Green grass, black lava at Guatemala golf club

Green grass, black lava at Guatemala golf club

A month later, the visual contrast is striking: the emerald green of manicured fairways swallowed up by rugged black volcanic debris.

La Reunion Golf Resort & Residences was once a place for well-heeled residents and tourists to putt, drive, swim and imbibe in a dramatic setting perched on the flanks of Guatemala's Volcano of Fire.

One of the region's most active, the mountain known to locals as the "colossus" exploded June 3 and sent flows of superheated material racing down the slopes and burying most of the luxury club.

Remarkably, nobody died there.

 A table with plates and bottles sits blanketed in volcanic ash at the golf resort. San Miguel Los Lotes. June 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

A table with plates and bottles sits blanketed in volcanic ash at the golf resort. San Miguel Los Lotes. June 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

La Reunion's administrator decided at 11 a.m. that day to move the more than 100 guests and workers on the site to safety, even though no evacuation order had been issued by authorities. So when the deadly flows arrived a few hours later, the place had already been abandoned.

On a recent day a security guard patrolled the grounds with a shotgun, watching over what's left of the private club and golf course that hosted seven international tournaments on the PGA Latin America Tour, the most recent coming in March.
Here and there were unmistakable signs of a hasty evacuation — a coffee cup resting on the lip of a pool or hot tub, what was once somebody's meal turned into an ash-covered still-life on a patio table.

Charred terra cotta roof tiles lay among the debris, and azure pool waters were turned chocolate.

 Golf resort homes homes and pools are covered by volcanic debris in San Miguel Los Lotes. June 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd

Golf resort homes homes and pools are covered by volcanic debris in San Miguel Los Lotes. June 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd

Just downhill from the club in the village of San Miguel Los Lotes, residents weren't so lucky. Some said they were never warned to flee, others that the order didn't come until it was too late.

More than 100 people have been confirmed dead in the disaster and about 200 more are said to be disappeared. Most of the volcano's victims were in Los Lotes.
Guatemalan authorities have opened an investigation into whether emergency protocols were followed properly to give villagers a chance to escape.
Much of the landscape near the golf course was also rendered a barren moonscape of blackened terrain with dead trees and boulders deposited by the flows. For days, heavy rains fell on the still-hot ground, creating clouds of steam that hovered above the ground like a fog.

Destroyed residential areas were officially declared inhabitable, with locals left to seek new lives elsewhere.

But even amid the devastation there are signs of regeneration. In one burned field, green shoots of vegetable life rise from the soil.


Text and photos from AP news story, AP Photos: Guatemala Volcano Golf Club Photo Gallery, by Rodrigo Abd.