BootsnAll Travel Network

Walking Around Xela

Most of my fellow students took off to the beach for the weekend. Despite my being cold at night, I wasn’t really in the mood for hanging out in the hot 95 degree beach sun all day after taking what amounts to a 3 hour bus ride from Xela. 2 other students went to a retreat at a coffee plantation co-op (which I’ll sign up for on a future weekend), and another one signed up for a 2 day hike (which I will definitely do sometime before my studies are over). Me, I just wanted to take it easy, and so ended up walking around the town for 4 hours. Actually, I had 2 goals today. One, to find a public park where there are basketball hoops and players. And two, to locate some churros to buy where I can dip them into hot chocolate.

After a lot of walking, I found the place to play. 3 outdoor basketball courts, with no nets. People in Guatemala and not tall at all, I’d guess that the average height of a male is less than 5 foot 4, and that of a woman less than 5 foot 2. The game played here consists of a lot of driving to the basket and then dishing off. Not many players I saw went up for a jumper. Fouls are called, and balls are inbounded almost immediately from anywhere at the out of bounds. One guy had a #8 Kobe jersey, and another a #91 Rodman jersey. Maybe next week, when I have some basketball-related words in Spanish under my belt, will I join a game or two. But I’ll leave my trash talking back in the states.

I ended up at the local market for my churros, and actually didn’t find them until the tail end of my journey. Unfortunately the stand or any other nearby stands had no hot chocolate, so I had to eat my churros alone with some azucar (sugar).

Imagine the Saturday market, and then imagine it 10 times bigger with rows and rows of tarped and open stalls of everything imaginable. CDs, DVDs, shoes, socks, underwear, handicrafts, watches, vegetables, fruits, housewares, school supplies, kitchen tools, nuts, used electronics, etc. etc. etc. Stalls also sell meat, and outside the uncovered areas, little stands sell french fries, tortillas filled with meat and onions, fresh sliced fruit, empanadas, ice cream, and other fried items. It’s kinda like a flea market, but goes well beyond that. People walk around with a few items to sell to whoever crosses their path, while buses at the main terminal Minerva clog up the street with vendors selling their wares on the buses and people climbing aboard and off the buses. It is literally an intoxicating environment with all the sights, sounds and smells.

In addition to all the people, the goods, the buses and the activity, there’s garbage everywhere, and even more sad, is that the one main garbage area for the market where a lot of the debris is taken, has a bunch of people digging through it for food or to salvage things to sell. One of the students I hung out with last night, Lauren, just returned from a volunteer project in Guatemala City where her organization helps in construction projects for the poor. Her stories about witnessing and learning about the crime and poverty in the capital and the numbers of people at the garbage dump are gut-wrenching.

Got a little sidetracked there, but the subject of the current problems that plague Guatemalan society are worth a future post. Most of the foreigners I have met are here for one of 3 things: To learn Spanish, to volunteer, or to do a combination of both. I have not yet met one person who is here just to travel.

I leave you now with pics from visiting the 2 local markets here in Xela. Also, if you’d like to view a bigger image of the pictures, just click on one and a new window should open up with a larger version of the thumbnail. Tomorrow I’ll spend all day on a mountain bike, and my next post will be the Food post!










2 responses to “Walking Around Xela”

  1. Mike says:

    This is everywhere I have been in Mexico. In Cuernavaca where I have spent the most time, there was an area where all of the spoiled food went to sit. Not far away was the bus station where 8 or more sat around adding diesel smell. I was surprised by the amount of garbage everywhere and the littering habits of the populace including my suegra. But in Puebla in the main town square it was the cleanest I saw. Are you the least bit surprised to find DVD for movies that are in the theater? Do they cost about $2?
    Did you play basketball?

  2. Mon says:

    So the guys there are about 5’4″ and the women are 5’2″, you probably fit right in, and I would be a freaking Goddess to them! (ha ha not really but it sounded good) Go Churros!

  3. Curly (Carlos) says:

    Edwin- you are a crazy man! What are you doing in Guatemala? You can learn Spanish in southern California (actually… you need to know Spanish to be in southern California) and still able to drink water and take showers everyday!

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