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New Year’s on the Guatemalan Coast

New Year’s on the Guatemalan Coast

The week following Christmas, many families in Guatemala head for the country’s coast for a week of relaxation, time together, and New Year’s celebrations. This was my third year spending a week on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala with Rolan and his family, and, as always, it was the perfect combination of fun, leisure, and delicious food.

We packed up the cars with our clothes, sunblock, and a crate full of produce to prepare later—avocados and limes being the key players. We descended from Rolan’s home in Guatemala City, which is about a mile above sea level, and felt the temperature climb. After a few hours on the road, we arrived at our home for the week, a rental in a gated community near the ocean. Some of Rolan’s extended family shared the house with us, and some rented out other houses close by, ensuring there was always a crowd for any activity.



The house itself was beautiful, sunny, and perfectly designed for low-tech family fun. We spent many hours swimming in the pool, singing songs, and playing badminton, volleyball, and billiards.

We enjoyed large, delicious lunches on the covered patio outside. A favorite meal was grilled steak with salsas, grilled corn, grilled whole scallions, and tortillas. On the side, some of us would drink Micheladas. Micheladas are very similar to Bloody Marys, except they are prepared with light beer instead of vodka. Do yourself a favor and try one out this summer!

We aimed to go out to the beach early in the morning and after 4 PM, to avoid the sun at its strongest. Sometimes we would run in the morning and then end at the beach, wading into the ocean in our workout clothes.


In the afternoons, we loaded up our sand-mobile, or “mulita,” meaning “little mule,” with all our beach gear, drinks, and books.

The black, volcanic sand is coarse, and the waves are strong, so I never lasted in the ocean too long, though not a day went by without my trying. By the end of the week I finally grasped the concept of diving under waves.


Most of the time, I enjoyed strolling on the beach or breezing through my novels while Rolan and the other young men battled with the waves.


Sunsets on the Pacific Coast always stun me. Being from the East Coast, I don’t usually get to see the sun melt into the sea.


At night, we’d break out the sparklers, and on New Year’s, the beach exploded in fireworks as far as the eye could see to celebrate the beginning of 2017. I’m so grateful to be able to spend my holidays in Guatemala with Rolan and his family and to share in traditions that I never would have imagined being part of my life.