Our Friends – Los Extranjeros
by Diane Pastor
First they become our acquaintances. Then they become our fellow partners for parties and travels, until they become good friends and, ultimately, a part of our families.
Some spend months, weeks or just a few days, which is not an obstacle for them to fall in love Xela and its people. Others arrive unaware that this will be their ultimate destination, but then end up staying for a lifetime, or the majority of one, for matters of work or love. Some see fertile ground in the field of business, and decide to establish one. Some just want to live far away from their own countries, in a different environment, enabling them to have a new life.
This happens every year in Xela. Over time, Xela has become a stopping point for foreigners from various countries for the diversity of things it has to offer: Spanish studies, work, adventures, or volunteering with a local NGO. “We love this place for its climate, its people and its perfect blend of city-town, rural-urban life,” they say.
Long before our current visiting friends arrived, European and American migrants were attracted to Quetzaltenango from the late eighteenth century by its fast growing development and its reputation as a cosmopolitan city. And they still continue to arrive. In the past 20 years thousands of visitors from all continents have left their mark on Xela whilst carrying bits of Xela and Guatemala home with them in their own memories of the time they spent here.
We know that there are many readers of XelaWho who will leave Xela over the upcoming weeks. Summer is almost over and most will return to their own countries or move on to others to continue their journeys. It’s almost impossible not to feel nostalgia, or “saudade” as the Brazilians say, referring to the strange mixture of sadness and joy when their time living here has passed. We want to give a warm farewell and thanks for visiting to all, for sharing with us their cultures, their ways of life, their ideologies and views, their joys and their energies. But above all, for enriching our lives with theirs by respecting and valuing our people and being willing to learn from our life-experiences, whilst at the same time allowing us to learn from theirs.