Escuintla, No Reservations
Today I had nothing to do, so I decided to go give some well needed maintenance to my vacation property in the Province of Escuintla.
Driving to this location should not take you more than 50 minutes from Guatemala City. Well, Elí moves by bus; which makes it a bit more difficult.
I’ve done this route a few times with no issue. I get to the bus stop and get on the first bus (chicken) to my layover. There are direct buses, but I’m not known for being a patient person. Well, there is a very nice highway to my layover location, but it happens that the bus I boarded takes the old road, which makes it double the time to Escuintla City.
Math does not add up
Bus fares are cheap here in Guatemala; Q10 ($1.30) from Escuintla City to Puerto San Jose –the town on the beachfront.
My vacation property is located on the highway, halfway from Escuintla to Puerto San Jose. I first go from Escuintla to my property. When the bus attendant asks for the bus fare, I asked him how much. He replies Q10. Not a big deal for us used to the Dollar currency. For lunch, we took a bus from my vacation property to Puerto San Jose –the ocean front-. Again, when I paid the bus fare, it was Q10 again.
Puerto San Jose
Covered in sweat, dying to gulp down some ice cold beers, we arrived at Puerto San Jose. Walked for a few blocks looking for sand, ocean and something to eat. Out of this narrow alley comes a guy who has the appearance of a street thug, he has the looks of a gang member, he rides an old and in bad shape BMX bike. He starts talking to me, gets close to offer a handshake. I’m a tourist guide he states.
Please forgive me for exercising prejudice, you don’t look or talk like one; Elí thinks.
I can offer you caldo de mariscos, hamburguesas, blah blah, blah blah, ceviches.
Wait: did he just say Ceviche!? Elí thinks! A while ago, I saw a photograph of a Levantamuertos -a type of ceviche- on Antiguadailyphoto, since; I’d been dying to try it.
Well, street thug looking tourist guide, please take me to the restaurant you suggest, Elí thinks.
We have walked out of the narrow alley and there it is, The Pacific Ocean with its entire splendor. Last time here was more than eight years ago, the area was what you would expect at a distant third world country: dirty, few improvised “restaurants”, no infrastructure. When I start paying attention to details, I see things have changed a lot. Now there is a bicycle path with separate lanes for each direction, the area seems cleaner, look: the ocean front has been squatted by these beer brand tarps, toldos they call them. You can see them on the beach, all the way to the horizon line.
Wait: We’ve been walking for a little while now. Where is this “tourist guide” taking me? I think for a moment whether he is bringing me to a trap and going to make some ceviche out of my corpse to sell to some tourists from Guatemala City like me.
Donde es: Where is it? I asked the guide. Right there! He replies.
Get me one of them toldos close to the water I command.
I asked for a Levantamuertos Ceviche and for my partner I ordered him a Ceviche Mixto. I ordered a liter of beer and start sipping it, actually; I finished that beer rather quick and of course I ordered 5 more of those liters.
While waiting for them Ceviches; one of the hundred of street (beach?) vendors approaches my table. I was playing with my camera and I turned him away. I raise my sight and see oysters. Wait: ?Que trae alli? What do you have there, I asked. Local Oysters he tells me. Q25 ($3.20) for half a dozen. Ok, now that you insist I’m going to try them. Can’t ever go wrong with oysters, the sound of waves crashing very near, and an ice cold beer next to you, the view is free.
Ceviches arrived on the table: An overflowing cup of deliciousness. I had been craving this Levantamuertos for years. I start eating it and trying to find what’s so amazing about it. I keep fishing trying to get something extraordinary out of my cup. Nothing! Did not impress me at all! I reached for my partner’s cup and trade it for mine. The Ceviche Mixto did really hit the spot. It had a little of everything; shrimp, little delicious Cephalopods, some mollusks. Ah Heaven!