I first visited Xela in 2014 to study Spanish and dance salsa. I had been traveling for six years, and while I loved the nomad lifestyle I decided I wanted to really get to know a place and find a community.
Did you have any idea you were going to start Xela Collective when you arrived?
No, I knew I was ready to start something substantial but I wasn’t sure what. I really wanted to not only give back to the community but really help enrich people’s lives. From this basic idea Xela Collective was born.
So what exactly is Xela Collective?
It’s an organization whose purpose is to empower local artists by exhibiting and selling their artwork and then giving the profits back to the local art community. Our ultimate goal is to start a community run art center for young people here in Xela.
That’s quite a vision. And what’s happening at Xela Collective right now?
The main item we’re selling right now is our coloring book which features designs by over thirty artists, all Guatemalan, and is being sold here in Xela, in Guatemala City, and even in San Francisco. We’ve also recently started hosting events including concerts, which we’re very excited about
Well that all sounds amazing and I’m really happy for you, but we need to move on to less important things.
So what’s your biggest regret about getting stuck in Xela?
I would definitely say having to run into Juan Pablo Jardinero on a regular basis.
Wow, really? He’s not so bad.
His lettuce is pretty good, I’ll give him that.
Yea, speaking of fruits and vegetables, the mangoes are great right now huh? Got any stories?
They really are. The other day I tried to eat a mango in this special local way where you smoosh it up first and then bite a hole in the skin to suck the juice out. It would have been less messy if I just bit into it like a T-Rex. Way harder than it looks.
Sounds rough.. This is getting off track though and we’re running out of time, let’s end on a high note. What’s your favorite thing about living in Xela??
Definitely the people and the community. I love that when I walk around town everyone gives me a big smile and an even bigger buenos dias. And when people go out in Xela it’s not just for the booze and music, it’s to really spend time with each other. It’s unlike any other place I’ve been and I love it.
Don’t we all.