I spent less than a day in Quetzaltenango (aka Xela), Guatemala. I left San Cristobal on Friday and spent the night in Xela. The people at Maya Pedal were all out of town Friday night, so I decided to break up the journey and see another Guatemalan city in the meantime.
Though Xela is the second-biggest city in Guatemala, it is still quite small. It is 2333m/7700ft above sea level. I think that’s the highest above sea level I have ever been, airplanes excluded of course.
I arrived at the central square of the city known as Central Park. The important government buildings are there, banks, restaurants, and some monuments are all located in the vicinity.
While I was there they were preparing for the Festival of the Virgin of the Rosary. Someone told me that she is kind of revered in Guatemala the way Guadalupe is revered in Mexico. Food, carnival game, and general merchandise stalls were all being erected in preparation.
You can see some pictures of the central park below.
I hadn’t had lunch and I arrived around 4pm Mexican time/3pm Guatemalan time. So I ate something small and had some amazing atole de maiz (a drink made of corn). I called Wilson, the guy I was staying with, and he picked me up in central park.
As I was waiting for Wilson to arrive, some ceremony ended and lots of indigenous people were walking past me. I just love the clothes they wear and how they look, so I couldn’t help taking a few pictures.
Wilson’s apartment has an amazing view of the mountains. You can see the mountains that surround the city from pretty much anywhere in Xela. It’s the rainy season here now, so you can see the clouds rolling in over the mountains all the time. Amazing!
Wilson needed to get some things so we went to a mall nearby. I found something I was not expecting in the food court.. I didn’t realize Taco Bell existed outside the U.S. I also didn’t realize that people who eat real tacos and enchiladas could possibly like the “food” that Taco Bell makes. Shocking.
After the mall, we passed by the city’s theater and then we went to the center to eat dinner. Wow. I don’t remember what it was called, but we ate something truly wonderful. It was street food, of course, and you can see it to the left. It cost $2 and was filling. The brown thing is called chicharron and is basically fried pig skin. Mexico had chicharron too, but it must be a diluted version. This one seemed 100% real and it tasted amazing. I washed everything down with another cup of atole de maiz.
That night we went out and I met some of Wilson’s friends. It was a lot of fun. And I was pleased to find out that Central America has Micheladas too! Below is a picture of Wilson and I, and another of me with my Michelada.
The next morning I left to head to San Andres Itzapa. But while walking to the chicken bus stop I got a nice view of the city with the mountains behind. Again, no picture does these things justice, but you can see my best attempt below.
Unfortunately, that’s it. Less than 24 hours in Xela, but I didn’t expect to visit here at all. As with many of the cities here in Guatemala, there are truly amazing things to see just a bit outside the city. Outside Xela you can see some active volcanoes, lagoons, hike trails that offer amazing views, etc. I didn’t do any of those things, but I wish I could have. I didn’t get a chance to see a volcano in Iceland, so seeing one is still on my bucket list!
Thanks again to Wilson for hosting me in Xela. He was awesome and gave me a great glimpse into the city, Guatemalan life, and made me feel welcome and at home. Muchas gracias otra vez!