One of my favourite things about travelling is the surreal transitions that occur. One night I´m peacefully camping in the Redwoods of California, a few nights later, fitfully trying to fall asleep amidst the cacophony of streetdog wails, sporadic firecrackers and the other city squeals of Quetzalnango, the second largest city in Guatemala. The trip here was smooth and uneventful. An evening flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles, followed by a brief 4 hour flight led to my arrival in Guatemala City last Thursday at 8am. I grabbed my hideously overweight backpack (endearingly named Ethel for companionship) off the baggage cart and found a taxi to the bus terminal. I am certain that the bus ride from the nation´s capital to this city was beautiful, alas, I slept almost the entire time – face shmushed up against the tinted window.
Once I arrived in the city, I went directly to the Spanish school I had previously made arrangements with. They welcomed me with warm smiles, gave me a quick tour of the school and soon after introduced me to my host family who took me to my newest home. Here a few photos I snapped the first night. For the first time in months, I have a place to call my own!
I´ve spent the last 4 days exploring the city and orientating myself in Quetzalnango. More commonly known by it´s indigenous name Xela (pronounced Che-la), this place is reminiscent more of a large town then a city. It´s surprisingly cold at night, sunny but mild during the day, and surrounded by a family of protective mountains. The streets are cobblestoned, the nights are noisy and the days are short. My sleep schedule has taken a complete turn, and I now rise with the sun and return home at sunset. Today was my first day of Spanish classes and I´ll remain at this school for about 3-4 weeks. During my time in Xela I plan on finding a local volunteer organization to commit to, taking various dance-yoga-wellness classes to keep active and exploring the surrounding region on the weekends. I´m excited to be in a classroom setting again, and can´t wait to feel more comfortable with the local language. I found a great internet cafe close to mi casa, so I´ll definitely be in touch!