After a very traumatizing (insert terrible motion-sickness here) car ride into Quezaltenango (also referred to as Xela [sheh-lah]), we realized that this was maybe the perfect Guatemalan city. It’s populated enough that there are things to do but not so touristy where you’re constantly approached to buy things. The sun was setting when we arrived so we quickly checked into one of the nicer hostels we had the entire trip. Xela had a definite Charlottesville vibe – not quite city but too big for town.
The morning after we arrived we had several places we wanted to visit, most of which was a little coffeeshop (can you tell we like coffee? We really like coffee) called Café La Luna. It was known for its chocolate/coffee inspired drinks, which were definitely not disappointing. Mayan chocolate has a distinct flavor that blends well with coffee and boy, did they take advantage of that combination.
After spending the morning in Xela, we arranged to be picked up by my maternal grandfather in the Parque Central. To say I was nervous to see him would be an understatement – but I really had nothing to worry about. My maternal grandparents have visited the States several times so it hadn’t been as long as with my other relatives. I had vague memories of their house but I didn’t quite realize that it was so isolated. They live in a very untouched part of Guatemala’s country-side, a town called San Carlos Sija. They literally live off their land (crops, animals, etc) and pretty much keep to themselves. Having been living in the US for as long as I can remember, the peacefulness of the country surprised me. There wasn’t much to do, not many people to talk to. Determined to not become bored, Chris and I found several things to keep us busy (read, play with the animals, walk around, nap, eat) but it was a complete shock to our system. My grandparents went to bed at 8PM that night and we didn’t have a choice but to follow suit shortly after. It was the quietest place I’ve ever been.
My grandparents also have a gazillion photo collages occupying their walls – photos of their nine (yes, NINE) children and their endless number of grandchildren (note: my mother was the only one to have only one child). Speaking of which, wasn’t my mom a total fox? She’d kill me if she knew I put this up on the internet but I can’t help but be in awe of how beautiful she was and still is.