Stuck in Xela

By Jalapeno Jacobo

Each month we send our field correspondent, Jalapeno Jacobo, to interview and harass one of Xela’s most infamous extranjeros to find out why the hell they’ve lived in Xela for so long (just kidding Xela, we love you.) This month we spoke to Sophie Anastassiades, who was raised near the city of Marseilles in France but now works for the organization Alterna here in Xela.


So what brings you to Xela?

Five years ago a good friend of mine told me that Xela would be the perfect place for me, but I didn’t finally make it here until September 2013 when I arrived for a fellowship position at an organization called Alterna.


How long were you originally planning to stay?

Well, my fellowship position was only supposed to last for four to six months but from the very beginning I knew I wanted to stay longer. I was looking for a place to settle and I immediately loved Xela and the work Alterna was doing.


And what is it about Xela that made you stay?

Xela is the perfect balance of so many things. It’s a big city but it feels like a small community, there’s a balance between local authenticity and businesses that cater to foreigners, and there’s a balance between urban life and nature. I also love the cute little gangs of street dogs, and how beautiful the moon is here.


What does Alterna do?

Alterna is the first social innovation and entrepreneurship center in Central America. Our mission is to help people create and grow social businesses. We also serve as a platform to help local social business owners network and learn from each other.

And what exactly is a social business?

A social business is a business that is focused on trying to solve a specific problem to benefit the community around it. For example we have businesses working to provide access to drinkable water, to reduce the amount of litter, and to provide access to healthy local food.


Sounds like important work, and what does your family back home think about you being stuck here?

My family is definitely sad that I live so far away and they don’t really understand why. But they also think I’m a hippy because I live in a house with a shared bathroom.


What do you miss most about living in France? The cheese. For sure. And wine.


Ok, speaking of delicious things, what would you put on your ideal tostada?

Ooo I like this one. The best queso de cabra there is in Xela (I know a guy), avocado, tomato, pepper, and basil.


Alright, before we go do you have any advice for newcomers to Xela?

Yes. Walk around as much as you can and always go with the flow. Don’t be afraid to get lost here, in every sense of the word.


Great advice.


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