Quetzaltenango - you will not believe how this city was

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Me with the panorama of Quetzaltenango


Quetzaltenango: beautiful surroundings, unattractive city


Together with my Bulgarian friend I took the public bus from Lake Atitlán to Quetzaltenango, also called Xela by the locals. It is located in the east of the country, near the Mexican border at an altitude of 2200 meters and is the second largest city in Guatemala with 225,000 inhabitants. The name Quetzaltenango means "place of the Quetzal" (the holy national bird) or "place where walls were built"..

The city reminded me of my hometown in Germany. Like my hometown of almost the same size, the surroundings (the big volcanos) are more beautiful than the city itself

And also the weather proved not to be at its best. It was the coldest city of my journey in Latin America so far. The thermometer did not rise much more than 17 °C during the day, so I had to walk long-sleeved for the first time on my journey. I was already used to 30+°C and so I caught a cold straightaway.

Bus on the way to Quetzaltenango
Bus on the way to Quetzaltenango
Street in Quetzaltenango
Street in Quetzaltenango

Accommodation in the Hummingbird House


Also here we searched for a hostel. Our first try was a hostel for 3$ per night, which the Bulgarian had found on the Internet. The man who opened the door of the hostel was in another world with his eyes. At least he seemed to have spent the last few days smoking weed rather than working. The hostel looked correspondingly sloppy. We moved on.

We found our accommodation in the Casa El Colibri, the Kolibri house. It cost twice as much, $6 per night, but it was still damn cheap. The hostel had everything you needed: kitchen, cosy common room, hot water. Only the door lock didn't work properly. If you put the key in too far or in the wrong angle, the door wouldn't open.


hardly any sights


I honestly say that Xela was probably one of the ugliest cities I visited during my trip. One grey building followed the other. Maybe the city looked like this just because the grey sky made me feel bad. Sadly, people lack the money to plaster or paint the house. They seem to invest all their money in the churches, because these are the only impressive buildings and they shone as if they had just been built.

The city may be better suited for a longer stay because it is not as touristic as Antigua, but it also has some Spanish schools and offers the possibility to climb up a volcano. The almost 3800 meter high volcano Santa Maria towers above the city.

grey
grey buildings in Quetzaltenango
Church in Quetzaltenango
Church in Quetzaltenango
White Church in Quetzaltenango
White Church in Quetzaltenango
Yellow Church in Quetzaltenango
Yellow Church in Quetzaltenango

We hiked to a view point near a restaurant to see the city, which looked much better from above than up close.

Panorama of Quetzaltenango
Panorama of Quetzaltenango

Afterwards we visited a colorful market just outside the center. We bought nice fruit for a small price and it was pretty messy there. The many malnourished street dogs ravaged the large quantities of garbage that was simply disposed of by the sellers along the road.

market in Quetzaltenango
market in Quetzaltenango
Street dogs looking for food in the garbage of the market
Street dogs looking for food in the garbage of the market
Police car with flat tires in Quetzaltenango
Police car with flat tires in Quetzaltenango
broken car in Quetzaltenango
broken car in Quetzaltenango

a very christian country


I was just walking around a bit the next day. I saw a huge procession for a deceased person and a huge liturgy that attracted so many people that they even had to queue outside. The people in Guatemala still indulge very strongly in the Christian faith. Obviously the Spaniards did "whole work" here during their Conquista.

Procession in Quetzaltenango

overcrowded church in Quetzaltenango
overcrowded church in Quetzaltenango

After 2 nights in Xela I continued my journey in the opposite direction and headed east again. First I had to go to the bus station with a totally overcrowded minibus. Just in time I noticed how one of the passengers put his hand in the pocket of my loosely fitting pants. That's where my wallet was.

Almost he got it. Anyways, my journey to the capital of the country, Guatemala City or also called Guate, could continue.


Posted by Marc - Jul 26, 2018


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Hola, my friends! I'm Marc! Here you find some stories of my trip through 17 Latinamerican countries!

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