Welcome to Xela’s High Season!
With another year over and an a new one just begun, the annual changing of the Xelan guard is about to occur with the new wave of adopted Quetzaltecas (people from Xela) arriving from across the globe. January kicks of Xela’s high season with the 30+ local Spanish schools overflowing with the sounds of new students uttering everything from buenos nachos to grassy-arse. For the uninitiated, XelaWho churns out the hardest-hitting journalism this side of Los Encuentros and is your one-stop-shop for tips to go from gringo to a chapin (Guatemalan) in-the-know. So welcome newcomers and strap yourself in for XelaWho’s survival guide to surviving Xela’s high season…
Xela may be slightly off the usual Antigua-Lago Atitlan-Tikal three stop tourist route in Guatemala but it’s nightlife is unparalleled. Xela being a bit off the beaten track means that you can mix it up with the locals and try out those new hard-learnt Spanish phrases. Xela’s locals are notoriously friendly and put in the hard yards listening to “all present-tense Spanish” in the name of mateship and a big night out. Just watch out for the usual pitfalls like when an Aussie mate learning Spanish tried to say no tenga pena (don’t worry about it!) after a couple of beers but ended up saying no tenga pene (don’t have a penis!).
Costume parties are pretty common in Xela so if you’re going to hit the town, you’re going to need to some gear. For everything from a cheap suit to onezies or a pub golf outfit, the pacas have you covered. The pacas are second-hand clothing shops found all over town but the big ones are up near the Minerva bus terminal in Zone 3. The donated clothes come down from the U.S. by the tonne and contain all kinds of treasures that won’t break the bank. The widest range is at the pricier Megapaca store up next to Walmart just behind the Minerva market.
After all these late night cultural experiences, you’re going to need some local hangover cures. Your faithful editor’s go-to are sueros (rehydration salts). Sueros are what people with diarrhea normally take but also work great for hangovers. Just one before bed and one when you rise and you’ll be off to Spanish school like nothing ever happened! And remember a little Quetzalteca Tamarindo (local tamarind flavoured spirit) in the morning la quita te pone (hair of the dog).
Mushrooms and cheese are a must for hangover brunches but can be hard to find around ol’ Xela town. Pais supermarket up in Zone 3 has crimini and portobello but can be a bit pricey. The local option for cheese is Xelac up by Mercado Las Flores. For the keen shopper, there’s one lady in the La Democracia market that sells fresh local oyster mushrooms on Calle 1 between 15th and 16th Avenida.
So welcome to Xela! While you might not realise it yet, you countless new arrivals are just a volunteer position away from becoming Xela lifers. So enjoy the best that Xela has to offer and we’ll see you on the dancefloors this January!