Xela’s a swinging town. From the raging nightlife to the endless jumping over potholes, there’s never a dull moment. Yet the other day your faithful editor was walking in the Minerva market and saw a guy with a selfie-stick selling selfies. Right then it hit me that technology is ruining everything and I needed to escape the Xela metropolis and get out of dodge for the weekend. Fortunately, there are tons of cool weekend spots within striking distance and, as always, the good folks at XelaWho have got you covered.
The cheapest and most fun way to hit the road is to take a camioneta (chicken bus) from the Minerva terminal. Just hop on a city micro-bus from the corner of 5th Calle and 14th Avenida near the park (just listen out for guys yelling hiper, hospital, pradera or terminal) and you’ll land up next to the Minerva market. From there you’re just a short 5-minute walk through the market full of grimy puddles, yummy bus snacks and people trying to knock you and your grandmother down with a cart full of bananas.
If you make it through (well done!), you’ll get to the main bus terminal, which can be recognized by the hundreds of buses milling around. Helpful touts with impressive vocal chords constantly scream destinations out. So either follow your ears or tell one where you’re going and they’ll politely shove you towards the right bus. Before you start enjoying the thumping cumbia and nod-off, drooling on some señora’s huipil (traditional indigenous blouse), double check that the sign on the front of the bus has your destination on it! Overly eager touts will often barrel you onto a bus to Panajachel when you’re trying to go to San Pedro so there’s no harm in quadruple checking that este bus va directo a San Pedro, verdad?
When the crew here at XelaWho need to blow off some steam after a hard week of Pulitzer worthy journalism, San Pedro La Laguna (on Lake Atitlan) is our weekend spot. Affectionately known by regular weekend warriors as San Piedra La Locura (Saint Crack – The Madness), San Pedro is an eclectic mix of shoeless foreign hippies, young Guatemalans looking to make it with said hippies and the best range of food for the lowest prices you’ll find before you head back to south-east Portland.
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P o p p i n g
January saw the inauguration of Xela’s new mayor, Luis Grijalva, marking the city’s first change in mayor for 12 years. Grijalva was the surprise winner of the elections, winning 33% of the vote despite spending only Q50,000 on his campaign, compared to millions spent by his competitors.
Grijalva spent no time messing about as soon as he assumed his new position. He quickly denounced the old administration and ex-mayor Jorge “Mito” Barrientos of corruption, claiming that a whopping Q4 million was missing from the municipality’s coffers. Mito and the previous members of the Municipal Council have been put under arraigo, which means they can’t leave the jurisdiction until a formal investigation and, potentially, criminal proceedings have been undertaken.
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By Fathouse Productions
XelaWho broke the news last October that the president and vice president jailed last year for corruption were actually undercover anti-corruption agents, since Vice President Baldetti helped reveal corruption scandals when in Congress and President Pérez Molina said that with his leadership, “there will be ZERO tolerance for corruption.” The question was: why did the rest of the media not reveal their involvement in huge scandals had been part of a sting?
The answer is now clear: so President Jimmy Morales can use similar tactics. Morales was elected last year on a platform of transparency that was notoriously short on substance. As an outsider to the political system (he is a comedian by trade), he (also) promised zero tolerance for corruption. His inspiring campaign slogan was “Not corrupt, or a thief.”
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By Rotton Tacos
Every time I visit my grandma she sees me off by waving from the porch and saying “Now you make safe choices”. And every time I reply by saying “…you know I will”, while knowing I’m lying though my teeth as my brain says “… there are some things you never tell grandma.”
The first time I entered Guatemala was, technically, illegal. On my first trip out of the jungle in 2 months, I was dropped off at the Belize-Guatemala border at 5 am, alone and determined to go 2 days non-stop to Nicaragua for a New Year’s Eve party.
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With the highest number of Facebook users in Central America and a Twitter population growing by the thousands every month, social media can be a great place to find out what’s buzzing in Guatemala. Of course, there’s also a whole lot of nonsense posted online too, but at XelaWho we like nonsense so here are some of last month’s social media trends, with the interesting & the informative alongside the vacuous & the ludicrous.
Acclaimed actor #seanpenn doesn’t really make the news much anymore. He isn’t one of those actors that seems to be in every movie (*cough* Paul Rudd *cough*), nor is he known for his outlandish behavior. That is, until he got the chance to interview the infamous Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman — Mexico’s (previously) most wanted drug cartel kingpin. To say that the coordination and execution the interview was difficult would be the understatement of the year, and wouldn’t have been possible without the connection (and translation services) of Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, a confidant and friend/non-enemy of Guzman. I know what you’re thinking— “why is it that those who don’t even speak Spanish get all the cool job opportunities in Latin America, anyway?” Well, my friend, apparently you just need to be Sean Penn.
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By Kendal Bergman
Editor’s note: This is a classic XelaWho article from way-back in 2007 that still gets talked about to this day, so we’re reprinting it just for Valentine’s day!
When I came to Guatemala, I had just gotten out of a long-term relationship and wanted to have fun, learn some Spanish, and reinvent myself, so to speak. Needless to say, I wasn’t looking for anything serious.
But one Wednesday night, while out dancing salsa at this hip new club, I found myself repeatedly drifting back toward a cute Guatemalan guy who could really move. What’s more, when we sat down to have some Cuba Libres (rum and coke, but with lime – totally awesome), I saw he was really interested, and interesting. Well, at least I think he was interesting; my Spanish isn’t so good.
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By Diana Pastor
In Guatemala, prior to Ash Wednesday (which always falls on different dates and this year will be on the 10th of February) La Carnaval is celebrated. Although it is not as popular it was some years ago, school children and young adults still celebrate the day with costumes, confetti-filled egg shells (which I must advise that you buy!), and food. In Guatemala, the best place to celebrate Carnival is Mazatenango, in the department of Suchitepequez, a town located about 2 hours away from Xela on the southern coast of Guatemala.
The fair in “Mazate” (as it is commonly referred to) is packed full of fun things to do, with a grand parade, a carnival with lots of rides and food vendors, and of course… plenty of dancing. Because Mazatenango is stinking hot, people sometimes throw water on one another while dancing and partying in the street. You can reach Mazate by taking a chicken bus from the bus terminal in Quetzaltenango or stop interurban buses of the 19 Avenue in Zone 3. The buses run frequently and the fare is about 20 to 25 quetzales.
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By La Salsa Ingelsa
The United Nations’ General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (dried beans and seeds such as chick peas and lentils). Here at Xelawho, we believe Guatemala has one of the best: frijoles negros. Black beans are a staple food eaten throughout Guatemala. They are a great source of protein and very versatile to cook with. Black beans are most commonly served refried. Refried beans are typically served at breakfast and dinnertime; often as an accompaniment to huevos con tortilla. For a snack, spread them on toasted tortillas with cheese or as a dip for nachos. Also, look out for next month’s homemade nacho chip recipe. Indeed, learning the art of refried beans is an essential part of your Guatemalan culinary experience.
This recipe uses canned beans which makes it quick to make and should be hard to get wrong! Además, cooking your own frijoles revolteados means you can control the amount of oil and salt you add making it a healthier option. Persuaded? Let’s get cooking!
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With another year over and an a new one just begun, the annual changing of the Xelan guard is about to occur with the new wave of adopted Quetzaltecas (people from Xela) arriving from across the globe. January kicks of Xela’s high season with the 30+ local Spanish schools overflowing with the sounds of new students uttering everything from buenos nachos to grassy-arse. For the uninitiated, XelaWho churns out the hardest-hitting journalism this side of Los Encuentros and is your one-stop-shop for tips to go from gringo to a chapin (Guatemalan) in-the-know. So welcome newcomers and strap yourself in for XelaWho’s survival guide to surviving Xela’s high season…
Xela may be slightly off the usual Antigua-Lago Atitlan-Tikal three stop tourist route in Guatemala but it’s nightlife is unparalleled. Xela being a bit off the beaten track means that you can mix it up with the locals and try out those new hard-learnt Spanish phrases. Xela’s locals are notoriously friendly and put in the hard yards listening to “all present-tense Spanish” in the name of mateship and a big night out. Just watch out for the usual pitfalls like when an Aussie mate learning Spanish tried to say no tenga pena (don’t worry about it!) after a couple of beers but ended up saying no tenga pene (don’t have a penis!).
Costume parties are pretty common in Xela so if you’re going to hit the town, you’re going to need to some gear. For everything from a cheap suit to onezies or a pub golf outfit, the pacas have you covered. The pacas are second-hand clothing shops found all over town but the big ones are up near the Minerva bus terminal in Zone 3. The donated clothes come down from the U.S. by the tonne and contain all kinds of treasures that won’t break the bank. The widest range is at the pricier Megapaca store up next to Walmart just behind the Minerva market.
After all these late night cultural experiences, you’re going to need some local hangover cures. Your faithful editor’s go-to are sueros (rehydration salts). Sueros are what people with diarrhea normally take but also work great for hangovers. Just one before bed and one when you rise and you’ll be off to Spanish school like nothing ever happened! And remember a little Quetzalteca Tamarindo (local tamarind flavoured spirit) in the morning la quita te pone (hair of the dog).
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P o p p i n g
New Xela Pub Crawl
To be the leading culture and nightlife magazine in Xela, we here at Xelawho put in long days (and nights…) to bring you the you truth, la verdadera verdad, on what’s going on in Xelatown. This means we’re out and about constantly, trying new restaurants, bars, going to shows, and joining parades so we can report back to you, our trusty readers.
One thing you must know is Xela’s nightlife scene is growing by the month, much to our wallets’ dismay… and it’s about to get taken up a notch further. We would like to be the first ones to announce the Xela Pub Crawl, which is scheduled to debut in the final weeks of January. Keep your eyes and ears open for more info as the time draws near. Check out XelaWho.com or search XelaWhoMag on Facebook for updates.
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