Monday, April 15, 2013

Quetzaltenango (a/k/a Xela; a/k/a Pretzel-tenango ... sez' me)

1:18 PM 4/15/2013 - So ... it's ... what -- day three in Quetzaltenango (Xela - pronounced Shay-la) ?

It's poking around in the 40's, in terms of humidity.  Fairly tolerable when I'm dormant, but when you throw in activity, walking, bright sunshine, diesel fumes, and the dirt whipped up by vehicles on the cobblestone streets ... I pay.  I tried to wear my safety goggles.  WAY too humid.  They were just a rain forest on the inside.  "Working --" even in that environment (ridiculously high humidity) still presents as-yet-unsurmounted challenges.

So we're playing it very low key.  We're walking around town a lot.  Today, we happened toward the central cemetery, which -- as it turns out -- is just leviathan.  I mean ... terrain aside ... we just couldn't walk from end to end.  There was such a diverse representation of the low-cost (for Jim: torsion box construction) resting places and the unimaginably costly mausoleum/shrine/crypt configurations.

It's always beautiful and interesting to visit cemeteries when traveling.  You learn a lot about life expectancies over time, when epidemics hit, infant mortality rates, and a bit of ethnography of the area.

We've eaten well.  This morning, we tried out Xelapan (Xela Bread) Cafe.  An absolute coup, at about USD$3.00/ea for eggs, beans, tortillas, a croissant, fresh orange juice, and that now-famous Guatemalan coffee.

With a "right on the central square" location and a front-of-store bakery that stocked a seemingly infinite number of SKU's (sorry: jargon alert).

We're a bit schizophrenic about the next steps in the trip, largely because Don's back just keeps flaring up.  It still looks like Panajachel, then Antigua, but ... it could well be that we skip the Caribbean coast in lieu of a bus down to Guatemala City and a First-Class overland route to El Salvador.

Or something.  Don't set your clock by this stuff.  It really IS subject to change.

After dinner across the street last night, I joined a (Cambridge) British gap-year student in viewing "Y Tu Mama Tambien" at the restaurant's video cafe.  Thought I'd seen it, but ... nope.  Very funny and interesting movie.  I also felt profoundly old, sitting there along side a 19 year old student.

I mean ... General Sherman Redwood Old.  No bueno ;-)

Movie ended at 11p.  Offered to walk her home, to the homestay in which she was staying during her stint teaching English to Guatemalan primary school kids.

Chivalry is not dead.

I tried to pay careful attention to the route she took, farther and farther away from the hotel.  At some point, I simply gave up.  "Pretty sure I'm still in Guatemala," thought I.

She asked if I knew how to get back to my hotel.  I'm too tired to endeavor bravado, so I said, "I have no EARTHLY idea, but I always get home."

And I did.  Couldn't have mapped a better route, online.  Score one for me.  Still not sleeping on the mean Guatemalan streets.


We looked into a day trip to the hot springs, but ... apparently, the guide books are correct about the business's address, while the business has its OWN address WRONG on its website.

This ... is Guatemala ;-)

So ... we spend time on the Square, watching the people ... who, in turn, are likely watching us.  It's a decades and decades old game, and I like to play.

I haven't really been called a Gringo, yet -- at least ... not that I've heard.

Which is nice.

McDonald's has decent coffee here.  Crap.  I said it.  Worse: I've stopped there twice for coffee.  Bless Me, Father, for I have sinned......

The bronchitis is coming along nicely.  Don't even have to do anything.  It's just ... there.  Like my constant companion.  I guess I was envious of Donald's estimable morning cough.

I keep up, now ;-)

I'm going to pop this one up on the Gulag.  My peepers are tired.  Unless something noteworthy happens in Xela, I'll likely update, next, from ... wherever we are next.  At some point, I'll try to add pictures, but ... can't do it just yet/now.

Ciao for now ... from ... the Central American office of .... The Gulag.


  1. Bronchitis! Que paso? How's your Spanish coming along?

  2. Hi, Mom :-)

    Yeah. Bronchitis. Whaddya'gonna'do ?? Staying on the fluids.....

    My Spanish is coming along -- about all I could have asked for.

    Got to Panajachel, today. Staying in a very cool place -- Hotel Utz Jay. I think (Chico's) Marvin and Helene had/have a place, here. I'll poke around, and see if I can find them.

    Happy ... er ... anniversary (?)

  3. Exciting times my friend! More than a bit jealous. Hope that gag order was good to you - let me know if you need anything!