Two Days in Xela

Do I want to stay in Guatemala? Should I study Spanish here? Perhaps I can study in Nicaragua, or even just really study and immerse myself without paying a ton for lessons? Is it cheaper here or there? What if I get there and the accent is harder to understand and I’ll wish I had done it here?

These are the kinds of questions that are currently going through my head. It might sound like they cause me stress or anxiety, but don’t worry, they definitely don’t. There’s just lots of them. And their answers lead to decisions. To help make these decisions, I took a short trip on my days off from the hostel.

I’ve now been in Quetzaltenango (locally known as Xela) for 2 days. A few friends are now running a hostel here, so it wasn’t difficult to find a cheap place to stay. I met these friends in Mexico, and we spent a day rope swinging into a cenote and then rang in the new year together. Seeing them for the first time since New Year’s Day has been wonderful. We cooked meals together, had some great conversations, played some cards and even a great game of sardines in their then-empty hostel (the power went out that night).

I’ve found a cafe that I absolutely love and, as I sit here writing, drinking a most delicious organic cappuccino, I’m reminded  of why I love cities (though nature definitely wins). Xela is no Antigua, but it’s a lovely city. There are fewer travellers than in Antigua or other big cities. Locals speak less English and the foreigners who are here are mostly studying Spanish. I like the vibe created by these longer-term travellers who are focused on learning Spanish.

In my two days here, I’ve gotten my fill of both city and nature. I spent some time wandering around downtown, buying veggies from the local market, exploring the cobblestone streets, and people watching in the main square. The city is alive enough to be active and enjoyable, but quiet enough to not be overwhelming. One of my three friends, Alexandre, and I went for a short hike yesterday. It felt as though we were a million miles away from the city, but in reality, the walk was maybe an hour – straight from the hostel downtown. This kind of easy access to nature is so important for any city I plan to spent time in. And I’m considering spending time here.

I’ve visited a few language schools to inquire about their programs and activities. I’ll be in touch with some English schools as well about teaching English – in exchange for Spanish lessons or for money. I’ve found one school that is definitely the popular favorite – which is the basis of my hesitation, but at the same time, I can see why it’s the favorite. I’ll give consideration to a few schools, but this one might be the school for me.

While I am toying with the idea of doing lessons in Nicaragua instead, I could easily see myself spending a month or more here in Xela. It would give me time to learn about Guatemala’s history, really improve my Spanish, experience all the natural surrounding beauty, and of course, enjoy more tasty cappuccinos in this lovely little cafe. Yeah, I could be a regular here. Next stop – Xela?

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