When I was home for two weeks packing up, and working on my residency, people would ask where I was going. I would answer Quetzaltenango, Guatemala and it was almost like you could see the cloud of confusion settle on their head.
"I can't even pronounce that."
So, here's a little geography lesson:
Guatemala is located in Central America. Our close friends are Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador.
I live in the Western Highlands of Guatemala in a nice little valley surrounded by mountains and can see three volcanos from the vista where I work. Only one is active, but it still makes life exciting. Quetzaltenango is a really long name, but essentially means "place of the Quetzals," which are beautiful green birds that have all but left Guatemala entirely. Most people in Guatemala call Quetzaltenango by its indigenous name, Xela (Shay-la).
We are the second largest city in Guatemala with around 700,000 people living in the metro. Wikipedia also cites Xela as being "The City with the Soul of Culture," which doesn't exactly appear to be true. And in the same paragraphs they say we're a major tourist destination, which isn't quite right either, but who I am to argue with Wikipedia. Maybe they are referencing the thirty language schools and thus an influx of Spanish Learners in the summer. I don't know. Usually when I'm in Antigua or at Lake Atitlan and meet travelers, they often say, "Yeah, we just didn't make it to Xela," and I'm never surprised, because we're not terribly fancy, just authentic. A clash between the traditional and modern.
Speaking of summer, we really only have two seasons here: rainy and dry. Right now we're finally starting to get over the rainy season, and after this week of ferocious rain, it should be wrapping up within October. Once dry season hits, it will start to get colder, but not unbearable. Quetzaltenango is known as being "the land of the eternal spring," as it starts out chilly but can be guaranteed to hit at least 70 degrees every day of the year.
We've covered the basics, right?