Studying Spanish In Xela

My teacher yanked my homework away from me and began furiously marking it up. “This is ugly. You write bad.” Normally, this sort of treatment would lead to a verklempt Skype call to mom. In this case, my “teacher” was 8 years old, and I was welcoming the abuse. During Semana Santa, I became one of the thousands of international […]

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Hiking Laguna Chicabal

View of the lagoon from the top of the ridge

In the Newberry Award-winning book (and Disney movie) Holes, the hero Stanley Yelnats and his friend Zero survive in a barren desert after discovering a hidden lake tucked on top of a mountain. Though Guatemala´s Western Highlands are far from barren, scaling the breathtaking Laguna Chicabal makes you wonder if the author of Holes drew any inspiration from this local […]

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Quetzaltenango’s Mount Olympus

View of Quetzaltenango from the summit of Volcán Santa María (photo by Kristen Moser)

From many viewpoints in Guatemala’s western Highlands, the Volcán Santa María stands like a sentinel overlooking its kingdom. Wrapped in a vortex of clouds, the volcano is a constant reminder to the population of Quetzaltenango and environs of its eruption a century ago that almost completely destroyed Guatemala’s second largest city. Yet today, Santa María stands as one of the […]

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Xela Fair has scope like none other in Guatemala

Xela feria 2011 (photo by Dave Fox)

Xela’s annual feria came to a close the weekend of Sept. 17-18, and it was everything Guatemala has come to expect from the nation’s premiere Independence Day celebration. Everything offered won’t be new to a traveler who’s at least trolled the occasional market: fruit and knick-knacks, dance troupes and shows, and carnival rides that may have been assembled with scrap […]

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Big Birds and Fast Slides

Plenty of entertainment at IRTRA, Xetulul and Xocomil The first thing you’ll notice at the resort are the peacocks. Male and female, big and small, it’s like Noah’s Ark hit ground in the Highlands and covered the place with more birds than Ireland has sheep, strutting around like Freddie Mercury at Wembley. A short bus ride out of Quetzaltenango takes […]

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Ex-Guerilla Entrepreneurship

The calm (and coffee) after the storm: Santa Anita La Unión Rebels are on the move in Libya, Egyptians are overhauling their constitution and Tunisians unseated a multi-decade dictator, but reading about it in Guatemala’s relative tranquility makes it easy to forget that the same turmoil engulfed Guatemala not long ago. A history of the 36-year civil war and what […]

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