Xela Nightlife

by Susana Raymundo

If you’re talking Big Concerts, you’ll find them in the Central Park, Municipal Theater, Stadium, out at the Templo Minerva or in the old Army Base in Zona 3. But let’s have a look at what goes on downtown on an ordinary Saturday night.

Around the Central Park is the highest concentration of restaurants, bars, cafés and billiard halls. I like hanging out in the kiosko (that round building without a roof) in the Central Park – it’s a good place to sit and watch the kids hanging around with their bottles of tequila or rum. Sometimes a drunk or druggie will pass by, begging for coins. While downtown has it share of transvestites, you rarely see them in the Park – they prefer to roam the edges – you see them around, with microskirts and enviable bodies.

Sometimes a jam session will strike up in the kiosko – someone has a guitar, someone else has a drum – sometimes these are neighborhood kids, sometimes big name artists who have come to play at the theater but want to connect with the kids on the street.

When I get bored of the kiosko, I make for the discotecas – some charge, others don’t. Either way you feel obliged to drink and eat a little something. Obviously, the places without a cover charge tend to be more crowded.

The bars are like bars anywhere – sometimes you can choose the music, sometimes they have live performances, mostly by Guatemalan musicians. To pass the time while we drink we play billiards or chess or table soccer. And if all that fails, we can always gossip with friends.

At closing time the street food vendors come out – barbecued meat, pupusas, hot dogs, garnachas, eggs & beans and tacos, washed down with traditional drinks like atol, arroz con leche, coffee and caliente (a hot fruit punch made with rum).

And as the vendors slowly start to pack up and the sun shows signs of rising all the night owls move towards their cars, hoping that the windows are unbroken, on their way home to worried parents or to their hotels, apartments or somewhere else to continue the party. Some go crawling, vomiting, trying to dodge the police. Some are crying, victims of bad situations and others are jumping for joy, anxiously waiting the next Saturday night in Xela

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