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Design on Tour

El Paredon, Guatemala

Reviewed by remote designer Rob Lewis who is currently documenting his travels through Central America on our behalf.

“A fantastic hostel away from the stresses of civilisation. Most people, including myself, never want to leave as the facilities, staff and surroundings are all magnificent. The WiFi situation isn’t ideal but it isn’t too much trouble to overcome.” 

Where to stay - 

For the last month I have been staying at The Driftwood Surfer hostel in El Paredon, Guatemala. It is regarded as the best hostel on the beach in Guatemala owned by three of the most welcoming gentlemen you will ever meet. 

It has fantastic surfing opportunities on a mostly untouched black sandy beach which stretches for over 16km. They have a volleyball court on the beach with games played daily just before sunset and a swimming pool with a swim-up bar. Plenty of animals run around including two lovable dogs, a friendly cat and an adorable micropig which roams the restaurant/bar area.

Where to work -

The town the hostel is in is very small town and in the middle of nowhere so limited of places to work. I worked in the hostel in the upstairs restaurant/bar area which has plenty of seating and power points and of course easy access to smoothies/pepsi/beer depending on what time of day it was.  The pool table offers a fantastic chance to take a break from work every hour. 

Best place for WIFI - 

The bad news for nomads is the lack of WiFi with the hostel offering just one communal laptop which is connected to the internet. They say this is because they want to keep the hostel 'social' so not everyone is staring at their phones - which works very well - but the reality is the hostel only gets a limited amount of gigabyte's a month so they mainly keep this for business use. 

There are two ways around this. There is a splendid pizza restaurant 100 yards up the road which is part of a hotel which has WiFi. Or what I did was get a cheap Guatemalan sim card and tether through that. It's not ideal but does the trick. Unfortunately, backing up work/photos to a cloud is not recommended as this will eat all your data. You will have to wait to get back to a town or city with reliable wifi for this.

What was worked on - 

I finished off a project is was already working on while I was here which was a casino redesign. 
I also helped the hostel tidy up their website including uploading new images and also re-designed their restaurant menus. This offered an alternative to purely bar work.

On the photography side I was a wedding photographer for a spontaneous wedding held on the beach outside of Driftwood. I also done a photoshoot for Choza Chula, a local charity charity selling a range of clothing and materials raising money for local education.

Where to eat / drink - 

Driftwood offers great food throughout the day and everyday ending with a family meal at seven which would be a themed all-you-can-eat buffet. All the food is cooked on site as one of the owners, Rusty, is a keen chef so offered a selection of food you would normally not be able to find available in this part of the world.

I mentioned before there is a pizza restaurant next door which is a fantastic alternative albeit  more expensive then the buffet at Driftwood. And for those on a more stricter budget their is a local restaurant further up the road called Yolo's which you can drop by and eat a meal for 20Q (£2.20). 

Chilling out - 

Driftwood offers a decent swimming pool area with plenty of hammocks and sun loungers as well as a swim-up bar to enjoy a cold beer during the day.

They have a pagoda built on the beach with hammocks and an upstairs area with large beanbags for a daytime snooze. Don't forget the vast beach area to lay a towel down but beware the black sand gets scorching hot in the day. Because of this, it's entertaining to watch the surfers sprinting down to the sea and back up again. 

Playlist -

Will Chapman