Friday, August 16, 2019

Guatemala -- Also A Place

A friend shared this on Facebook and it is hilarious! It is by comedian Arturo Castro of Comedy Central. I couldn't find the complete original to share so this one is a bit cut off. It should start with the words, "Imagine a place..."

I would like to also add that Guatemala is waaaaaaaay cheaper than Costa Rica. So plan your trip today! And say HI to me if you see me in Panajachel. πŸ˜„

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Paragliding at Lake Atitlan and Spanish Listening Practice

I came across this neat video on YouTube of a Guatemalan traveler who went paragliding at Lake Atitlan recently. This is an activity that I would never do. Never ever ever. Sorry! You're never gonna see a video of me jumping off a cliff! So I'm sharing this video so you can see what it's like and see some amazing vistas of Lake Atitlan, the volcanoes, and the scenery.

But there is another reason for this post -- I'd like you to try to understand his Spanish! And then maybe sympathize with poor me who is trying to learn this language in my 40s! I think he is a ciudadano, a person from the city, and they speak faster than the local people here in Panajachel. That is because Spanish is most likely his first language, whereas many of the locals here are indigenous and they learn their Mayan language first, then Spanish, and then sometimes English. So that makes it actually easier to communicate with indigenous people because they are learning Spanish too and so they speak slowly and simply.

If you're not interested in the real-life Spanish lesson, then just watch this video for the awesome visuals. He actually doesn't even fly until the last 3 minutes of the video. Before that, he visits the nature reserve, talks about the history of paragliding, and chats with the instructor. Skip ahead to 14:00 if you just wanna see him fly!

The funniest part is that I didn't know what his channel name was and had to translate it. He is Traveling Walrus! And near the end of the video, he says, "A walrus is not made to fly but without a doubt, he loves it." So cute!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Another Fun Xela Xopping Xuttle

If you know Spanish, you probably got a mild chuckle out of this blog's title. If you don't know Spanish, you probably went, "Huh?"
See, the letter X in Spanish sounds like SH. So xopping xuttle is my Spanglish joke for "shopping shuttle"!
And in case you're new to my blog (or Guatemala geography), Xela is the common name for the city of Quetzaltenango. Xela is pronounced "sheh-lah" and Quetzaltenango is pronounced "ket-sahl-ten-AN-go". Or close enough. 😊

So what does this all mean? It just means that a bunch of friends and I rented a private minivan & driver and went on a shopping spree in the nearest big city. We went to a MALL. Gasp! 😲

The new(ish) Utz Ulew mall in Xela.
Our first stop was the Utz Ulew Mall near 19th ave and 3a street in zone 3. I had chosen this stop for a very important reason -- Dollar City! And it was sooooo worth it. 😁 I bought so much good stuff and would definitely make a trip back there just to shop more. Dollar City is the Latin American partner of Dollarama, an awesome dollar store in Canada. Everything even had Dollarama price stickers on it. It was heaven!

Next stop was the usual mall we visit, Pradera Mall, that has a nice Walmart. But food lunch in the food court!

McDonald's for me and Panda Express for my friend. Delish!
Bert had a HUGE Taco Bell combo. He couldn't finish it. πŸ˜‹
It's actually exciting to have McD's and Taco Bell when we go to the city cuz we just don't have that option in Pana. Tastes "from home" are kinda comforting, even if it is junk.
For people who care about prices, Bert's giant combo was Q45 and my McNifica Doble combo was Q47.

We all picked up a few more things at Walmart before heading to our last stop, a store called Cemaco. I had never been to one before and I was impressed! It was a huge store with tons of items for the whole home, plus tools, paint, pet stuff, gardening, and lots more. It was pricier than Walmart but better quality.

Inside Cemaco in Xela
The signs are in Spanish with a local Mayan dialect beneath. I think it's K'iche.
After Cemaco, we were totally wiped out. We had arrived in Xela at 10am and it was about 3:30 when we left. Whew! The drive home flew by as we chatted in the van and soon we were all home unpacking our loot. πŸ˜„

The cost? Our shuttle was Q750 roundtrip, which is a good deal. I've heard quotes of Q800 or Q900 normally. We split the cost between everyone who comes, which works out to be more reasonable.

One note: you are expected to pay for any parking costs, of course, and you are also expected to pay for the driver's lunch. That second part was news to me. 

But just so you know, taking the chicken bus is way cheaper, if you can handle it. A trip from Pana to Xela is only about Q50 per person return trip. But chicken buses are not so much fun and you don't get a private driver to take you all over town and a nice van to pile all your attractive purchases into when you're done. 

So that was my Saturday. I hope you had a great weekend too. Catch ya next time! 😊
Goofing off in the mall
Xela is Guatemala's second-largest city with a population of about 160,000. You're like, "What? That's a BIG city?" I know, right? But get this: Guatemala City has a population of over 2 million. Everyone lives there. And Xela is waaaaaay behind with only 160,000 peeps.
And then there's Panajachel, where I live, with only 20,000 people. Pretty darn small.
So taking a trip to the "big city" is a fun way to spend time with friends and shop for things that are harder to find at Lake Atitlan. It only takes about 2 hours to get there too, so you can easily get there and back in daylight hours.

More fun facts:
Pana's elevation is 5,240 ft or 1,597 meters
Xela's elevation is 7,650 ft or 2,330 meters
So on our ride, we went up in altitude by about another 2,410 feet or 733 meters! Wow! This actually makes me experience a little bit of altitude sickness, which kinda just feels like a hangover -- headache, irritability, hot flashes, tiredness. But I know to expect it, so I fight it off with ibuprofen and caffeine! πŸ˜†