I had some help this weekend, thanks to our driver Salvador, and got my feet over to Quetzaltenango with Monica, Lindsay, Mary and Daniel to hang out for a couple of days. Quetzaltenango aka Xela (Shell-ah) is a bigger city in Guatemala with colonial influence and a young vibe. It’s also a lot colder because it’s even higher in the highlands...something I did not anticipate encountering whatsoever upon traveling around Guatemala. We stayed at a hostel/bed and breakfast called Casa Renaissance run by a man from Holland (Jenny…). The B&B had a big screen with 900 movies on a hard drive, free coffee and tea, warm showers, and the sweetest dog ever. It was definitely a great place for a weekend getaway.
Our days were mostly filled with walking around, getting to know the town, watching movies, listening to live music, and eating. Saturday, however, was insane. We left Xela in the afternoon to try to go check out a volcano crater that had turned into a lagoon and ended up getting to the entrance just as it started to rain. The entrance was a 2 1/2 hour hike to the crater up a steep hill. We would have done it, but we didn't know getting to the entrance entailed hiking, so none of us were prepared mentally or physically. Think sandals and jeans. The rain did not help. After about 20 minutes of everyone grumbling and the rain getting harder and harder, we found a pickup that was going up the hill and decided to take it to the entrance. This was fine for about 10 minutes, until the road turned into mud and the truck started to slip down the mountain, ending up fish tailing a bit and us getting off in fear of our lives. It was sideways on the mud mountain and was about to flip any moment off the cliff. Mom, stop reading. Let's just say we needed to chill out and appreciate our lives for a couple hours afterwards. That night after dinner we went to a cafe and got some drinks and watched a live concert, which was really nice. I hadn't heard live music in a while.
The rest of our time in Xela was, compared to our Laguna attempt, relaxed. We spent a day at the market and I got fresh avocados, tomatoes, and onion and made guacamole at the hostel while we watched the movie Chicago. More exciting was the fact that a man was selling puppies on the street corner while we were walking around. I considered my options before deciding Scooby, despite his age and sass, still should be the king of our backyard back home. We came back to Pana Monday morning with some new Australian friends and spent a relaxed Fourth of July walking around town and bartering before it began to pour and we found shelter at Palapa, the closest thing to an American bar/restaurant. My feet were dressed up in red flip flops from Old Navy for the celebration…reminding me once again that life can be enjoyed in whatever attire as long as you’re surrounded by good people. Needless to say, I still missed the craziness of the Fourth in the states.