A Travellerspoint blog

Xela es bueno

semi-overcast 18 °C

I´ve been here in Xela, Guatemala for about a week and a half. It´s an amazing town and I´m starting to feel like a part of the city (I would NOT say local!) The most surprising thing to me has been all the stares I´ve attracted. I knew I wouldn´t blend in, but I thought I´d just be another traveller, no big deal. I guess Guatemala is not exactly used to tall, black women with blueish green tinted hair. (Go figure) It´s usually the kids that stare, but I caught some women gliving me sideway glances today. Maybe it´s because I was doing my homework from Spanish class...

Getting here was a bit tricky. I was in Chichicastenago on Sunday checking out the amazing market full of gorgeous handmade crafts. I wasn´t sure about getting to Xela (Quetzaltenango)but I read about the chicken busses being the best and cheapest way to get around. So with my huge backpack on, my friend Caroline helped me find the "bus stop" really just the side of the crazy busy street with people driving like maniacs. Found a guy that was also heading to Xela and stuck to his side like glue. Caper was from Spain and his Spanish was TONS more proficient than mine. After standing on the side of the road for almost 2 hours, we figured that all the busses were full due to market day and needed to find another way to the next bus stop.

Long story short after a mini van stuffed with at least 20 people, a bus ride for a couple hours that we thought would take us to Xela, we got kicked off in Cuentos Caminos and had to get on my first real chicken bus in Guatemala. Not too bad really, just long day and confusing. Casper was my gaurdian angel that day.

Found a hostel that night. A dorm room with 20 beds. The good thing was I was able to find out about good spanish language schools and get started bright and early Monday morning. I´ve been living with a host family -- which is interesting. Very strange to be in someone´s home and not be able to communicate becasue they speak a different language. I finally comfortable enough after four days in class to mske some conversation. Felt like a major accomplishment!

I´m loving the school I.C.A. (no idea what that stands for). It´s been great making freiends and checking ou the surrounding areas. I have tons of photos and videos, but I´m having a hard time getting them posted (doesn´t help that everything on the computer is in Spanish. I plan on being here in Xela for anotehr week and a half and will get it all straightened out befor I move on. Up north to Tikal and then figure out how to meet my friends in Costa Rica in December.

Posted by stargaze 16:30 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Guatemala es bueno

I'm having some difficulties with updating my blog. Hopefully it will get easier the more I do it...

Quick update. I flew into Guatemala City, took a minibus to Antigua found a room to stay in all pretty easy. The town is super quaint with pastel painted bulings. A wonderful Parque Central with a large fountain in the middle. The problem I found was that if I hung out there, men or boys would start hanging around giving me an uneasy feeling. There's a lovely church right near the parque that I sought refuge in. Walked around town most of the day. Got lost numerous times RIDICULOUS! I stayed in the dorm room most of the night, didn't feel too safe wandering around at night.

November 1 was All Saint's Day. Took a tour to see the giant kites fly. Was AMAZING. Huge colorful kites were erected in the cemetery. The graves were decorated with flowers and candles. Reminded me of my grandfather's grave decorations in Dominica. People were happy and festive. Thousands of people took to the narrow streets. Other than almost getting crushed trying to get up the hill to the cementary, very beautiful day. I made a friend from Australia named Caroline. When we first made it to the top someone pointed to Caroline and then the ground at her feet. Someone had slashed her bag and her wallet was layig on the ground. She was very lucky that nothing was taken. We were much more mindful of all the people in such close proximity, bumping and pushing into us. We hit it off right away and spent the day together. We even went out for a few drinks that night.

Also met another traveller from France. Seline. He stayed in the same dorm room. We talked about our plans and our trip. Many similiarities. I took a leave of absence to travel for the next year or so through Central & South America. He got fired from his job, his boss "Threw money at him so he would leave." He came out with Caroline and me for a few drinks. They even have happy hour in Guatemala -- 3 vodka orange juice for 30Q($4). Even had a football (soccer) match on tv. We were happy campers indeed!

Caroline and I made our way to Panajachel yesterday. Nice 3 hour minivan ride from Antiqua through the mountainous countryside. Took a boat to a small town on the shores of Lago de Atalin called San Marcos. Beautiful area. Stone footpaths connect hotels, restaurants and the town has a holistic center that offers yoga, massages, tarot card readings, meditations (trying that in an hour or so) and tons of cool stuff. I'm planning on stay here another day or two and then will go to Chichicastenago for the Sunday market. I'm going to make my way to Xela on Monday and I'm so excited about starting language school! Guatemala es buneo, pero mi español is MALO! I feel like an idiot and I hate not being able to have even simple conversations with locals.

Posted by stargaze 12:32 Comments (0)

Leaving US of A

Guatemala or bust

It's my last night in Dallas. This time tomorrow I'll be in Antigua, Guatemala. I'm excited and a little bit nervous. My plans are beginning to shape up, it's go time and I hope I'm ready.

To set minds at ease at home, I have MUCH more figured out about my trip. After lots of consideration for my safety and the amount of time it would take to get through Mexico to Guatemala by bus, I stopped being Ms. Thrifty and bought an open jaw ticket flying into Guatemala and out of Lima, Peru. The estimated date of return is tentatively set for August 27, 2007. That should give me enough time to travel through both Central and South America. If my money lasts that long that is. I'm going to set a $20 per day budget...which thanks to friends and family on my way through Seattle, Portland, Denver and Dallas I've already set in motion and is working well.

On my arrival into Guatemala City I will be going to Antigua (about and hour away) and plan on staying there a night or two. Antigua is very popular with travelers and I should be able to unwind, find some cheap drinks and adjust to my new surroundings. From Antigua I'll be heading to Lago de Atitlan for a few days. It's supposed to be a gorgeous lake with amazing views and a few volcanoes close by.

I plan to make my way to Quetzaltenango(Xela) by Sunday, November 5. I'll start looking around and gathering information about language school. Which I'm looking forward to, especially because I didn't actually brush up on my malo espanol before my trip. I've heard wonderful things about language schools and the setting in Xela. It will be my home base for 3-4 weeks. After that I plan to make my way north to Tikal and visit the amazing ruins.

That's about all I've got so far...anyone who's asked me about my trip this summer should notice more details than I had even a month ago when I left Anchorage. My plans are still shaping up and changing a bit everyday. I'm really excited for the flexiblity that I'm sure will lead to many unplanned adventures.

Posted by stargaze 17:15 Archived in Guatemala Tagged packing Comments (2)

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