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 Hanne De Wyngaert, who is originally from Antwerp, Belgium but is now owner of Que Onda Vos here in Xela.
How are you today Hanne?
Barely slept last night, if you want this to go well you should buy me coffee.
Fair enough (*Coffee pause*) Let’s try again.. so when and why did you originally come to Xela?
Well I had been working in the fashion industry in Belgium and I was feeling a bit empty, I wanted to be doing more socially conscious work instead of making fancy clothes for an already overloaded market. I had heard amazing things about the weaving and fabric tradition in Guatemala and so I came to Xela in 2012 to learn more.
What did you think of Xela when you first got here?
I didn’t really like it, I didn’t think it was a very beautiful city and I’m a person who cares about beauty…
…And so why did you stay?
I was always planning to stay, I had a business idea involving hand woven goods and I knew I wanted to start it here.
It’s a business that I’m still running today called Que Onda Vos. I create product designs, mostly blankets and rugs, and then they are hand made by rural communities here in Guatemala. I then sell the finished products in high end stores in Europe, the United States, and online.
What gave you the idea for the business?
I think the weaving tradition here is amazing, and I wanted to give it a place in the world of high end products where it could stand on its own as the incredible art that it is.
After four years have you changed your view of Xela?
I’ve definitely been able to find the hidden beauty, there are so many surprises INSIDE the buildings.
(You hear that everybody? Beauty is on the inside 😉 )
What do you like to do here?
Go to yoga and drink margaritas.
Beautiful. What’s your favorite place in the area that people might not know about?
Just outside of town in Cantel there’s a workshop called Copavic that takes used glass and makes amazing products out of it, I highly recommend going out there to check out there shop and watch them work. Oh, and of course the Xela Co-work space I run with a couple friends.
You only get to choose one place Hanne, but I’ll let the plug slide..Any advice for newcomers to Xela?
That’s terrible advice
I told you I didn’t sleep enough last night!
Ok ok.. any last words?
Peace, love, respect.
Not bad, I’ll take ’em. Thanks Hanne!