July 2009 Issue: Map Mania
Finding your way in Xela is not super difficult. Nevertheless, a few hurdles stand in your way of GPS-accurate navigation of the streets of Xela, such as those damn diagonales, a 1-in-56 chance of a street sign and locals that know their way but can’t tell you what street you’re on.
What to do? Lucky for you Xela is having a map renaissance. While packed with pesky advertisements, these maps are mini guides not only get you from A to B, but contain loads of useful information. Here’s a quick guide to these maps.
The granddaddy of Xela maps is the “Quetzaltenango City Map & Guide”. This map’s advantage is its size: it fits easily in your pocket and can be whipped out easily. On the down side, this map will never win a design award, and its scope is limited, leaving off much important stuff in Zona 3 and beyond.
A newer arrival is “Destinos Turisticos Occidente”, a map published by the local chamber of tourism. Pick it up for a good regional overview. The least commercial of all of the maps, it contains three elements: a guide to attractions in western Guatemala, as well as regional and city maps of Xela. It only contains a handful of advertisements; its design is functional; it is big and bulky.
A step up on the slickness scale is 502 Maps’ depiction of Xela, which has one of the most attractive designs. Besides giving a brief history of Xela and some attractive photos, the 502 map nicely markets the variety of businesses vying for your Quetzal. On the flip side, the map itself lacks detail and is geared towards locating advertisers rather than non-commercial destinations. It is also bulky.
Similarly slick but containing the best actual map is the tri-lingual “Mapa de Xela” from WeLoveXela.com. The map nicely mixes commercial and non-commercial attractions in a compact space and manages to be less bulky than its mates. You’ll also find helpful information like important phone numbers, bus schedules, etc.
Then we come to “XELAMAP” a ‘monthly map’ that combines one of the better works of cartography with useful tourist info, such as events, hikes, Guatemalan slang, travel information and more. Think foldable XelaWho, only with a map that’s actually useful. So how does that saying go…isn’t it “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?” No worries, folks, no bloody feuds will be ensuing among us publications that shamelessly parasite off of tourists. In fact, the brains behind XELAMAP wrote a great article in this issue on kayaking Lake Atitlan. Hope you enjoy it, along with the rest of the July issue of XelaWho!