Trip to Guatemala – Part 3

On Monday, August 17, we went by rented van from Lake Atitilan to Quetzaltenango (also known as Xela), over very high mountains on roads that were constant loops and switchbacks. Since this was a main road, it was of excellent quality, four lanes except where road improvement were in process.

The littlest passenger did quite well.

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This is Genesis, age 7 months.

Melanie and Julio live in Xela, the second largest city in Guatemala. They live 5 blocks from the official center of the city. Their apartment would be considered middle class, but the street they live on is somewhat simple…

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…not looking like what we would call middle class in USA.

About the name Quetzaltenango. You may know that the quetzal, a rare and colorful bird with a long sweeping tail, is the national symbol of Guatemala. Quetzaltenango was the name given centuries ago by an indigenous group to this city, which was at that time inhabited by the Quiche people. The name means “on the quetzal wall,” although why the quetzal bird was associated with a wall is not clear to me.

I mentioned the official center of the city, which consists of a park two blocks long and one block wide, surrounded by the municipal building, offices, restaurants and a cathedral. The park is the largest one in the city.

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In the park men and boys set up portable shoeshine stands. I will say more about the “shoeshine boys” later.

Opposite the park is a McDonald’s restaurant. An armed guard stands watch at the door. I bought a grande size hot chocolate today for $1.50. Try to match that in the US!

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