P o p p i n g
Always one for a spectacle, Guatemala witnessed another huge volcanic eruption in March when Pacaya Volcano began spewing rivers of lava and clouds of ash after a series of powerful explosions on the 1st and 2nd of March. The ash clouds reached a towering height of at least 4km before raining down on the Pacific Coast, reaching as far as Ocós on the Mexican border – some 250 kilometers away. Parque Nacional Pacaya is now open again for hikes and we´re told the new lava formations make for an incredible sight. With Semana Santa coming up, why not go and check them out for yourself?
F lo p p i n g
Anyone that´s tried to bustle their way through the overly cramped and chaotic Mercado El Terminal in Xela, would have likely not been too surprised by the news that a major fire hit the even more crowed and chaotic El Terminal market in Guatemala city on the 25th of March: you don´t have to exactly be the most perceptive person in the world to realize that these places are just accidents waiting to happen. Still, the sheer scale of the uncontrollable blaze that laid waste to over 600 locales in the market and took firemen 10 hours to extinguish with 2 million liters of water was shocking to all that read it. The cause of the fire is still unknown, and is likely to stay that way: fire safety hazards are simply not something that is thought about by the locales in such markets, so there are literally thousands of ways it could have started. Fortunately, no one died in the blaze, although the economic damage has been huge. Our thoughts and condolences go out to all the families who have been affected.
HERE COMES THE SUN
It seems like a long distance past when we wrote our February edition of XelaWho this year complaining how bitterly cold it was. Now the sun is back in full force, just in time for the eagerly awaited Semana Santa. And don´t worry – we´re not going to go all British on you and now complain that it´s too hot. On the contrary – crank up the heat we say. Then we have an even bigger excuse to participate in the age-old Semana Santa tradition of drinking lots of beer under the blazing sunshine. But where to go? we hear you asking. Here´s two of our top suggestions for Semana Santa destinations:
The Pacific Coast is very easy to access from Xela, and is where you´ll find most of rest of Guatemala during the holidays. The closest beach towns are Champerico, Tulate, Sipicate and Tilapa which are just a few sweaty hours by bus away. For an adrenaline rush – try hiring bikes and cycling there as it´s all one downhill slope from Xela. We wouldn´t recommend trying to cycle back though.
San Cristobal de las Casas – this beautiful Colonial town in Chiapas can be reached in a few hours by chicken bus or shuttle (if you´re going by chicken bus head to La Mesilla, before going to Comitán and then onto San Cristobal). The surrounding region has lots to do and see including waterfalls, canyons and hiking opportunities.
Or alternatively you could just stay in lovely Xela & join in the many festivities here. Happy Holidays!