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Catching Up Over Christmas

By Fat House Productions

In a Texas airport I recently had 20 minutes to watch CNN and catch up a little on US news and culture. Big mistake.

In those 15 minutes, I saw two reports. The first covered Donald Trump making a speech about how polls say he will be the Republican candidate for President in 2016. One of his central campaign promises is to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, and make Mexico pay for it. He also recently called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

I Can’t Wake Up Unless a Rooster is in Puberty

By Rotten Tacos

If you’re new to Xela, your ears have probably noticed something a bit affronting: it is fecking noisy. You wake and wonder if there’s a shooting range nearby. You mutter mild threats at the 6-year-old neighbor whose favorite game is “throw the ball at walls when the gringas are sleeping” (“Jorge, voy a enviar la fantasma de mi abuela para seguirte para todo tu vida si no pares con la bola”). You’ve considered clipping wires on the buzzsaw running daily at 6:30 am next door.

Starting Your Own Xela Garden

By Juan Jardinero

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”

-Frances Hodgson Burnett

This month we sat down with Gaby from #TanLechugaYo, a weekly organic salad delivery service in Xela, to discuss how to start her own organic garden in her house. Finding a great business opportunity selling salads has also brought our friend Gaby to question our current food system and how to actively participate in retaking control of what we eat and how it is produced.

Controversial Issues in Guatemala

By Diana Pastor

Welcome 2016! We welcome another year to learn and grow together. That being said, Guatemala remains for better or worse, a very conservative country.

There are certainly some issues that can’t really be discussed in a conversation with an unmodern, close-minded Guatemalan, and caution should be exercised when these themes arise. Let’s discuss what I think are 5 of the most controversial conversation topics here in Guatemala…

Christmas — Xela-Style!

XW 125 Portada JPEG SmallIt’s that time of year again and we here at XelaWho HQ are busy dusting off the ol’ Bing Crosby vinyls, getting rid of last year’s tree and wondering which back-issues of XelaWho to give friends for Christmas. If you’ve been in Xela for a while you’re probably a well-seasoned chapin (Guatemalan) who knows their way around the cuadra (block). For newcomers and the uninitiated, your faithful editors here at XelaWho have got you covered with a run-down of all the best (and worst) of the Christmas season in Xela.

Anyone passing by the Plaza Ciany up near the bus terminal has probably noticed the 100 foot tall Christmas tree (see cover). Rolled out each year, this monument to all that is Christmas is crowned by the patron saint of Xela’s Christmas celebrations (and pretty much every other public event/celebration/commiseration in Guatemala) – the Gallo Rooster. Gallo (rooster) is the largest beer company in Guatemala, and since local public purse strings are tight, sponsors just about everything going on in town.  If a new bar opens, Gallo will be behind it. If a band is playing on a stage, the rooster won’t be too far away. Even the week of celebrations for Guatemala’s independence in September seems more like a week of homage to the top cock in Guatemala.

Apart from the rivers of Gallo, there are other delicious Guatemalan Christmas treats. Our favourite here at XelaWho is Christmas paches. Similar to the ubiquitous tamalitos (a corn dough steamed in corn leaves), paches are steamed tamales made from either rice or potato and stuffed with all kinds of veggies and meats. All year-round you’ll find scrumptious potato and rice paches around Xela – especially on Thursdays. Around Christmas local Xelan eateries crank out tons of Christmas paches which are stuffed with meat, olive, plums and raisins depending where you go. So look out for paches and taste a part of Guatemalan Christmas tradition (and no, your pilgrimages to Pollo Campero and Cono Pizza don’t count!).

Xela to Debut “Chivo Certification Course”

 by Rotten Tacos

In an attempt to develop a more involved immersion course for the frequent travelers and students that grace the streets of Xela, the municipal department of Quetzaltenango has joined forces with 18 local Spanish schools and Pollo Campero to form the “Chivo Certification Committee”. This committee is responsible for forming Guatemala’s first certification course offered for gringoes, “Chivo la Verga: Level 1 – An Introduction to Life Skills”.

The certification is the municipality’s premier attempt at developing an in-country assimilation program which evaluates travelers based on a series of physical tasks, local knowledge, and emotional stamina.  Potential certification candidates, to be referred to as “Cerotes”, will be evaluated by a panel with separate scores for each of these 3 elements – physical, mental, and emotional.

Race for the White House 2016 by Fathouse Productions

As the US presidential campaign grinds on, it reminds us why campaigns are now 18 months long: because they’re just so entertaining. If not, no one would pay attention. As of November 25th, 2015, Donald Trump remains the clear frontrunner among Republicans, with around 36% support. Much of his appeal ironically lies in voters’ mistrust of the sway millionaire and billionaire “donors” have over political candidates. Since 2010, it’s been legal for people and corporations to give unlimited amounts of money to groups supporting a political candidate, even though direct donations to candidates’ campaigns are capped at $2,600. Trump himself is a billionaire, so he can say what he thinks without worrying about big donors. People trust him. Further, he’s been a business man and recently a reality TV star for his entire career, and has never been a politician. With so many Republicans upset that Republicans in Congress occasionally let Obama do things, his outsider status helps him as much as it helped Jimmy Morales.



P o p p i n g

We at Xelawho believe that Xela is the only place to be, basically most of the time. However, we also understand that sometimes it´s necessary to jump off the deep end, go hang with some hippies, and swim in a pool when it´s not really that hot out. That´s right, we´re talking about Lake Atitlan, affectionately known as “the Lake”. If you want to have the kind of New Year´s that is basically like every traveler is a cast member of the “Real World: Gringos in Guatemala”, look no further. You´re sure to experience a wide range of Lake experiences, including being invited to do yoga on New Year´s Day (are you f#$%king joking?), your ears bleeding from listening to hours of reggaeton and techno, and having a rasta proposition you and not knowing if you should or shouldn´t take them up on it.

World in Briefs


A 24-year-old woman who has been missing for 10 years was found living in an internet café by pólice officers in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang. After a fight with her parents, the then 14-year-old girl ran away from home to pursue what we, at Xelawho, can only assume is every young adults dream: gaming and Facebooking all day, every day.  In other news, apparently police officers do routine checks on internet cafes?

Guatemalan Legends by Diana Pastor

Guatemala is a land rich in traditions and legends. Many of them have passed through history as stories told by grandparents to parents, and parents to children. I have heard more than once that the stories that people tell are from their own experience, assuring me that they are one hundred percent true stories.