Xela, Guatemala – Home Sweet Home

Xela, Guatemala

Look! We have a friend!

I didn’t realize how close we were to travel burn out until we arrived in our saving grace location, Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala. The stress of constantly moving from place to place was starting to show not only on my body, but was starting to tear away at my soul. I really just needed a place to hang my hat for a bit, or, in other words, a place to call home.

Coming from Tulum where the temperature was always in the 90s, it was soul quenching to put on my jacket. The colder temperatures made my cheeks tingle and I giggled when I was able to see my breath as we stepped outside. I felt like we were back in San Francisco. Looking up from the main plaza, lazy, misty clouds sprawled over the lush, green mountainside. Shaun and I just kept staring in awe.

Holy shit. We’re in a cloud forest.

A change of scenery was much appreciated.

Yes, it can be a shock to the system. Not only the cold nights in houses with no heating, but a shock to the system to see familiar faces and places.

We have spent the past two weeks completely immersed in Spanish classes here in Xela (and Shaun is taking another week to work on speaking!). Not only have I overcome the fear of talking to people but I’m pretty damn good at it.

Look! We have MORE friends! [Pictured: Jungle James and Safari Kate

If we are not in school, we are at home with our homestay family, Bilma and Jorge. Over homecooked meals (oh Lord I missed you!) we became close friends. Chatting in Spanish I learned how to bring out my sarcasm with a family that was a perfect match for us. If you weren’t careful it could lead to disaster. Readers Digest version: Never bring up chocolate and champagne with them unless you want to see your host parents getting a little too graphic with how they use it.

Needless to say there is warm laughter and love in our home. I feel incredibly blessed to be here.

As we were sitting in our favorite bar last night with a few friends, celebrating our last moments together, I realized – We are living in Xela. We have a favorite bar. We have friends in a city.

It is going to be so hard to leave.

Church in Xela, Guatemala

Monument and flag in Xela, Guatemala

Main arcade in Xela, Guatemala

Kids in Xela, Guatemala

Colorful house in Xela

Theatre statue in Xela

Colorful chicks in the Minervia Market, Xela, Guatemala

38 Responses to “Xela, Guatemala – Home Sweet Home”

  1. Jaime July 27, 2011 at 1:45 am #

    Im so glad you picked this city to rest your hat at. I seriously loved it alot and miss it. I love the tempature the scenery… and everything about it. So where is your next stop? When do yall pick up again? I bet after a month of rest (stationary rest) you are ready for the road again… no?

    Glad yall made friends and enjoyed the city. Should I be commenting in spanish now?

    • Erica July 27, 2011 at 10:14 am #

      @Jaime: The temperature is pretty awesome although I think rainy season started after you left! We are heading to the lake this weekend then on to Antigua and then into Honduras. 😀 We are pretty ready to hit the road again. I’m looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time. I love being places but hate getting there lol. As for commenting in Spanish – that is all you. Shaun is still trying to understand!

  2. Audrey July 27, 2011 at 2:45 am #

    Xela is such a great city for resting, regrouping and getting grounded again by living with a family, eating home-cooked meals and meeting people for more than just one or two days. We also spent several weeks there taking Spanish lessons and could have spent much longer there. Glad you’ve got your energy back! Where to next?

    • Erica July 27, 2011 at 10:19 am #

      @Audrey: I couldn’t have asked for a more awesome city to do just that. We’re off to Lake Atitlan this Sunday, and making our way into Honduras.

  3. Megan July 27, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    I loved Xela and could definitely have spent more than a week there. Great food, great Spanish schools, great volunteer opportunities – loved it!

    • Erica July 27, 2011 at 10:20 am #

      @Megan: My Spanish school is so awesome. I am totally going to miss everyone when we leave. I can’t imagine how hard it is for them to live in a city where people are constantly changing.

  4. Mom July 27, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    Beautiful pictures in your gallery. You are quite the accomplished photographer. I am very proud of you mija. Your uncle Bill asked to check out your site. He and your tia are interested in setting up a blog or website with their photography. I bragged on you.

    Cuidense y recuerden que los queremos mucho. Mama.

    • Erica July 27, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

      @Mom: Thank you mom! I’m so glad you poked your head around here! Tell them good luck with the blog. It is a LOT of work. <3 Love you too!

  5. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures July 27, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    What a lovely place to call home and wow your hair is so long, looks gorgeous!

    • Erica July 27, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

      @Andi: It is beautiful. The natural beauty around here is just STUNNING. And thanks for the compliment on my hair. I’m trying to grow it out. I need a haircut though and I’m not sure I trust Guatemalan ladies to accomplish what I want. Will have to wait for BsAs.

  6. Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista July 27, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    I could feel your love for Xela in your writing! I felt so bad reading that your were struggling. Sometimes we all need stop and recharge, don’t we?

    • Erica July 27, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

      @Debbie: I’m glad that it shined through that we love it here. It is now that I can appreciate how hard it is to undertake long term travel at the speed we are doing it. We’re slow travelers in general!

  7. Heather July 27, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    Love the hair Erica :-)

    Everyone has such great things to say about Xela so I can’t wait to go one day. I love that you had an opportunity to pause and had a home for a bit! Rest up and enjoy every moment :-)

    • Erica July 27, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

      @Heather: Thank you! I feel like it looks like crap so I will TAKE the compliments! Everyone DOES have something good to say about here which is why I was worried about coming. The last time we had that happen we were disappointed. Glad it lived up to its awesomeness.

  8. Terri July 27, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

    I’m glad that you guys have gotten a chance to catch you breath. I think it’s cute that you called them your host parents. :) I also sure that you speak much better Spanish than you realize. Good luck with your classes!

    • Erica July 27, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

      @Terri: It is nice to be able to relax a bit. As for the host parents thing – oh man I’m going to miss them so much!

  9. Sheryll July 27, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    YAY! Posts like this make me realize just how much I could never be a backpacker. I don’t like constantly moving, it gives me so much anxiety. Kudos to you for finding a place to stay for a while. Xela sounds like a beautiful town. And your HAIR Erica!!! It’s so long! You look beautiful!

    • Erica July 27, 2011 at 11:35 pm #

      @Sheryll: Oh lord you are comment #4 on my hair. I am starting to think that people like it or something! 😀 I don’t think we’re much of the backpacker type but in order to see everything we want to on our budget and time limit, we kinda have to! I’m currently applying for a job to work remotely. Wish me luck. 😛

  10. Emily in Chile July 30, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    I’ve been to Antigua and Guatemala City but would really love to explore more of Guatemala – Xela looks beautiful. Glad you got to relax and feel settled for a bit before heading out on the road again.

    • Erica July 30, 2011 at 11:47 pm #

      @Emily: We’re heading to Antigua this week! Not a clue what we are going to do there but we’ll be there nonetheless! 😀

  11. Camels & Chocolate August 1, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

    I’m pretty sure we stopped there as well when we took a two-week road trip around Guatemala, but if you asked me how to pronounce it, I’d still have NO clue! =)

    • Erica August 2, 2011 at 10:21 am #

      @C&C: lol! All X-es are pronounced as “sh”. So call it Shay-la? Or Quetzaltenango – your pick. 😛

  12. Lindsay aka @_thetraveller_ August 2, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    Ah yes, the backpacking burn out. I ended up spending 4 months in a small town in NZ after going strong through SA and Asia for 7 months.

    • Erica August 2, 2011 at 10:23 am #

      @Hogga: Wow – you reached 7 months before burn out? I feel like a total noob for lasting 3 months.

  13. Ayngelina August 2, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    I had to rush through Guatemala and only spent 2 weeks there, just make sure you don’t miss out on Lanquin, it’s really lovely to do for a couple of days.

    • Erica August 2, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

      @Ayngelina: Unfortunately we’re going to have to rush out of here due to budget/time restraints. I could have easily stayed here for another month. We’re applying for some jobs we can do on the road so maybe it won’t be out of the question later on.

  14. Stephanie - The Travel Chica August 2, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    I have heard so many wonderful things about Xela. I wish I had stopped there when I was in Guatemala. Just another reason to go back :-)

    • Erica August 3, 2011 at 12:50 am #

      @Stephanie: I am just really glad it did not disappoint!

  15. Michael Hodson August 3, 2011 at 1:29 am #

    I really need to do this in 2012. Only way I am ever going to learn a bit of Spanish.

    • Erica August 3, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

      @Michael: Totally worth every penny and every minute of our time. I think you would really dig Xela.

  16. dtravelsround August 3, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    I think you two should come to Vegas. I’ll be your host parent. And we can speak Spanglish. Drink champagne. Eat chocolate. And just be all out superfly. <3

    • Erica August 3, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

      @D: Sounds like it would be an amazing host “family” time!

  17. Margo August 6, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    I know it must be strange staying still in one place for a while, but sounds like you’ve chosen a wonderful place! I love language immersion classes…. once the migraines pass :)

    • Erica August 6, 2011 at 11:36 pm #

      @Margo: It was a fantastic thing and I highly suggest immersion classes to everyone who wants to learn Spanish.

  18. Federico August 7, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

    I hear you about the heat. It is dead summer in Vallarta and anything under 30 C is the closest thing to feeling cool!

    • Erica August 8, 2011 at 11:31 am #

      @Fede: I’m with you! It is like that back at home too. Feeling cold is nice only for a little while though. It gets old.

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