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XelaWho by Issue

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Twitter lit up this month with the news that ex-army captain (and killer of Bishop Gerardi — a fierce opponent of the Guatemalan military) Byron Lima was killed in a prison riot by a rival prison gang. Lima is said have been one of the most powerful inmates in Guatemala and was only 3 years away from serving his 20 year sentence for the murder. The #ByronLima hashtag was bustling with crocodile tears for the infamous tool of the Guatemalan military regime and plenty of conspiracy theories on who wanted to keep him quiet about his powerful friends and their secrets. @XimeEnriquez didn’t believe the extremely graphic photos of dead Lima and reckons he has 11 other inmates killed in the riot to fake his own death and is in hiding. Sounds about right to me!

Well surprise surprise… after the Jimmy Morales came to power (supposedly) free from political back- scratching debts (except the frequent rumours about him being in the army’s pocket) the military budget has increased faster than any other sector’s. Guatemalan’s flocked to #AJimmyLeDigo (I’d Say to Jimmy) to point out how corruption in Guatemala seems to never end after the story was broken in a Prensa Libre article last month. @ChapineroTuv reminds us that unlike Otto Perez, at least Jimmy pays back his debts… #ElChapoGusman.

Poke?mon Go has taken the world by storm this month and has every unemployed 28-year-old feeling like they have a sense of purpose again. Guatemalans expressed their outrage on social media while watching overgrown nerds from other countries play the game until it’s official launch in Guatemala in late July when they could simply complain about their phone not being compatible with the game. Unfortunately, Guatemala has set a world first for the game with 18- year-old Jerson Lopez de Leon from Chiquimula becoming the first person in the world to be killed while playing the game. Jerson and his cousin Daniel broke into a house presumably to catch a Poke?mon after which Jerson was shot and killed and Daniel was badly injured. The tweets under the #Pokemon_Go_Guatemala, hashtag however, largely brushed over this with every manchild and his Pikachu instead racing to post their funniest memes.

Guatemalan twitter has been buzzing with the super popular hashtag #GIRLSTALKBOYS this month. Your editor checked it out, thinking it was something about turning the tables on machismo with a Girl Stalking Boys. Apparently Girls Talk Boys is a worldwide hit song from the new Ghostbusters movie which has also taken off in Guatemala and which doesn’t have anything to do with girls stalking boys. It’s the kids that are out of touch… it must be…

Cream Cheese and Carrot Quesadillas

By La Salsa Inglesa

These outstanding quesadillas were inspired by the first vegetarian Chapi?n I met in Guatemala (and the most chilera), often found frequenting Tan Lechuga Yo at lunchtimes. First sampled at one of the longest standing vegetarian restaurants in Guatemala City, Rey Sol, these quesadillas have been my go-to fast food recipe for many years. Even the Taco King at Tacorazon admitted they were delicious!13815040_10154342437045996_850528262_n

Using the simple ingredients: carrot, cream cheese and tortillas, nothing can prepare you for how good the combination of melted cream cheese, spiced carrot and toasted flour tortillas will be. With no culinary skill or equipment required and ready in around 20-30 minutes this dish makes for a perfect light mid-week dinner or lunchtime snack.

Chivo Drama Love

By Auntie Dolores

Dear Auntie Dolores,
Some of my friends always say that I overreact and that I am always looking for drama in my life. On this occasion, however, I think I have good reason to worry.
Firstly, I’m gay and I recently broke up with my boyfriend. Of course, I miss him and it has been hard to get over him but now I am beginning to find other distractions, if you know what I mean, and I am starting to feel much better. However, there is just one problem; I’ve been dreaming a lot lately and these dreams are the cause of my concern. Why? Well, I’m dreaming constantly about a friend… about a female friend!!! And I’m not dreaming about her in friendly situations!
This is the first time this has happened to me and I’m rather confused, to say the least. I have always had a reputation as a man’s man and have only ever been attracted to, and been a magnet for, other men. However, I see this girl or, rather woman, so often in Xela and I have these feelings which have started to feel somewhat awkward… oh god, this city feels so small sometimes!
I thought it would be a good idea to kiss her to show myself that this is nothing more than a stage but I don’t think her boyfriend will be happy about it, nor let me in his bar.
Auntie Dolores, you know that Xela is the kingdom of gossip and I would never want the rumor to spread and to ruin my flamboyant notoriety/reputation.
Please Auntie Dolores help me, what can I do to stop this madness?

– Chivo Drama King


Hi Chivo Drama King,

First of all you need to relax. Madness? At this point I have to agree with your friends when they say that you overreact. Sometimes we dream things that our subconscious wants us to act out. In which case go with your gut feelings and take this girl out for a drink and, as for her boyfriend… well, maybe he‘ll be interested in joining in the fun. Or maybe, it‘s really him you are dreaming of! As for your reputation, don‘t worry, if it‘s the girl or her boyfriend, Xela is quite an open city and this is the 21st century. Remember, there is nothing wrong with a gay man having a physical relationship with a female.

If you would prefer not to confront your feelings, then perhaps you should distract yourself. Go out for a Cabro, or three, and activate your Grindr profile; I have no doubt the ?distractions‘ will come fast. If this is not your style put on your high heels and have a cross-dressing party at your place.

Either way just remember to enjoy yourself and never close yourself up in the closet again, it doesn‘t matter if you‘re dreaming of a boy or a girl… just set your mind free!

Have your own burning question that you would like to send to Aunty Dolores? Shoot us an email at


Top Tips for Chicken Bus Travelers

By Diana Pastor

Not all travellers are able to enjoy the luxury of cruising in a shuttle or first class bus. Sometimes, when you‘re strapped for cash, not running on a tight schedule, or need to travel to remote places, traveling by chicken bus may be your only option. Sometimes the novelty stepping onto one of these colorful, noisy, exhaust-spewing buses touring throughout Guatemala is what ends up defining our Guatemalan experience. Your journey may be (slightly) more pleasant if you take a few precautions however — precautions that can help you avoid problems or bad experiences on a journey through the beautiful country of Guatemala.

One of the most important things you have to know as a chicken bus traveler is that you should never carry much luggage. There is usually not enough space in the overhead storage bins of the bus, and they‘re quite small anyway. Even if you get on a empty bus, sometimes the ayudantes (the men who collect the bus fares) will want to charge extra for luggage in addition to the passage already paid. If you‘re in a bind and need to carry luggage with you to your destination, keep all valuables in one bag, and keep that bag on your lap. Throw your backpack or suitcase on top of the bus with the help of an ayudante. Be careful, though, during rainy season! Your bag may get completely soaked if it‘s on the top of the bus. It‘s best to check the forecast and plan accordingly.

Life’s Better in Colour! The LGBTI Movement in Xela

XW 132 Portada JPEG ColourLast month the world was once again shocked and saddened by a brutal mass shooting in the U.S. Attendees at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida were massacred by a lone-wolf gunman who had pledged allegiance to the self-declared “Islamic State” leaving 49 dead and injuring more than 50 others. A key difference in the Orlando shooting, however, was that it targeted a gay nightclub on Latin Night with most of the victims belonging to Orlando’s vibrant LGBTI community and over 90 percent being Latino. As the shooting happened to coincide with Xela’s yearly LGBTI pride march, we here at XelaWho HQ thought we’d take a break from our usual hilarious rants about chicken buses and garnachas to reflect on the state of the Xela’s LGBTI movement.

When it comes to progress on LGBTI civil rights and acceptance, Guatemala isn’t usually the first country that comes to mind — actually, it’s way down the list. When one of the most popular songs to mosh around on the dancefloor and chant along to in Xela has the chorus “amo al matón, matarile al maricón” (I love the bully, kill the faggot) it’s not a great sign.

Given that context, the powerful display of solidarity at last month’s Xela LGBTI Pride March was something rather extraordinary. Now only in its 6th year (the capital’s march is in its 16th year for comparison), this year’s marcha was the biggest yet, attracting around 150 attendees, up from the usual 30-50. Xela’s marcha is the only LGBTI pride parade in western Guatemala with people coming in solidarity from San Marcos to La Capital. Stunned onlookers in Parque Central were treated to impassioned speeches about LGBTI civil rights and some of the best lip syncing from a Guatemalan in drag this editor has ever seen.\

Part of the reason for the low attendance over the years is that many members of Guatemala’s LGBTI community are afraid of violence and discrimination if they come out publicly. To show their support but remain anonymous, many members of the LGBTI community travel to other cities to attend pride parades while not attending marchas in their home towns. After Orlando, prominent members of the gay community in Guatemala, including the organizer of the popular GayGuatemala Facebook page, who have spoken out about the need for more acceptance, have received violent threats to themselves and their businesses.

Chiles Rellenos Vegetarianos

By La Salsa Inglesa

Chiles rellenos (stuffed peppers) are a popular Guatemalan dish. This recipe is a quicker version than the original because it fills the peppers with cheese rather than meat and vegetables, and uses a simple batter mix without the need of an electric whisk. However, it is by no means comida rápida so give yourself an hour or two on a rainy weekend in Xela to experiment with this recipe.

Another thing: true Chiles rellenos belong to highest class of Guatemalan culinary art. Don’t be disheartened if they don’t come out perfectly first time. Looks aren’t everything and they will still taste delicious. Trust me.

The batter should be enough to cover about 6 red peppers and 4-6 jalapeños (optional if you like hot chilies. Otherwise, you can always use more red peppers). Make as many as possible to aprovechar de the batter and fat. I tend to serve one large pepper and one jalapeño per person with a salsa de tomate casera.


  • 6 largish red bell peppers (chile pimiento)
  • 4 jalapeño chilies (optional for those that like their food hot!)
  • A lot of oil for frying (at least a medium-sized bottle)
  • Half pound of queso fresco

For the batter

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour plus at least half an extra cup for coating all the chilies
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (polvo para hornear)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonato)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon oil

Fiesta Patronal de Joyabaj

By Diana Pastor

It’s 4.30 in the morning on August 9th, and in Joyabaj you can hear the fireworks announcing that the show has begun. There aren’t many people in the central square, but the traditional dances begin to flow through the streets of the town. One of these dances, called the flying bat, is one of the oldest traditions in the municipality. A depiction of it is on the municipality’s coat of arms, which depicts two men descending from the air, tied with ropes from a giant wooden stick.

Patron saint festivals, or fiestas patronales, are yearly celebrations dedicated to a patron or saint and are held by most towns in Guatemala, and Joyabaj is one of the most famous. Joyabaj is a municipality in the department of Quiché, located 4 hours from Quetzaltenango. Although it is a bit far from Xela, it is certainly worth traveling to during its fiesta patronal which runs from the 8th of August to the 15th. We recommend visiting Joyabaj during the first day of the fair, which is when an interpretation of the pole-stick dance is performed, along with many other colorful dances. The traditional dance of this area has ancient origins, and requires quite a bit of preparation which must be done days in advance.

Stuck in Xela

By Jalapeño Jacobo

Each month we send our field correspondent, Jalapeño Jacobo, to interview and harass one of Xela’s most infamous extranjeros to find out why the hell they’ve lived in Xela for so long (just kidding Xela, we love you.) This month we spoke to Sophie Anastassiades, who was raised near the city of Marseilles in France but now works for the organization Alterna here in Xela.


So what brings you to Xela?

Five years ago a good friend of mine told me that Xela would be the perfect place for me, but I didn’t finally make it here until September 2013 when I arrived for a fellowship position at an organization called Alterna.


How long were you originally planning to stay?

Well, my fellowship position was only supposed to last for four to six months but from the very beginning I knew I wanted to stay longer. I was looking for a place to settle and I immediately loved Xela and the work Alterna was doing.


And what is it about Xela that made you stay?

Xela is the perfect balance of so many things. It’s a big city but it feels like a small community, there’s a balance between local authenticity and businesses that cater to foreigners, and there’s a balance between urban life and nature. I also love the cute little gangs of street dogs, and how beautiful the moon is here.


What does Alterna do?

Alterna is the first social innovation and entrepreneurship center in Central America. Our mission is to help people create and grow social businesses. We also serve as a platform to help local social business owners network and learn from each other.

Xelebrity of the Month

By Alex Mac

XelaWho’s ear-to-the-suelo correspondent, Alex Mac, brings you the stories behind the famous faces you see around town in Xela. This month he spoke to Mayra  Perez Oxla, proprietor of the famous Tienda Mayra y Rosy Venta de Pupusas (aka the “Parque Central pupusa ladies”). Right on the corner of the park, locals and foreigners alike line up for ages every night of the week to taste Mayra’s pupusas .


So where are you from Mayra?

I’m from here in the center of Xela, pura Chiva toda la vida!


How long have you been selling pupusas here in Parque Central?

The store has been here about 15 years. My mum Maria Louise Oxla used to run it while I was growing up but since she  passed away I’ve been looking after the stand.


If you’re pura Chiva, how come you sell a typical Salvadoreñan dish?

We don’t sell Salvadoreñan pupusas, we make them with a different recipe and style that’s popular in Xela. So they are pupusas but Guatemalan pupusas not Salvadoreñan pupusas.


Every night I see huge lines of people waiting to buy pupusas at your stand but other stands are empty. Why are yours so popular?

We’ve been here for so many years so people really know us and trust the quality of our delicious pupusas.

Trapped By Trump

By Auntie Dolores

Dear Auntie Dolores,

A week ago I met a girl. I want to ask her to go out but before I do that I want to organise have the perfect first date. We both live in Xela. She’s a gringa and I’m from France. Neither of us know the city very well so I need some stellar advice on what to do. However, there is a small detail that I have omitted thus far which may turn out to be a problem during our first date and our future together: she loves Donald Trump! I’m not even sure how I’m supposed to deal with this. I like her a lot so I want to be able get over this obstacle and get to truly know the girl underneath. Help me Auntie!!!

Trapped by Trump