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Quetzaltenango    ( Friday 02/25 )

The bus to Xela (short for Quetzaltenango) was already packed and I couldn't spot any free space to sit down, till an older man moved a bit to the side and offered me kind of half a seat, where I did sit down - it was still a lot better than standing the whole way. The scenery near the Panamerica up to Xela was beautiful, there were always somewhere the tops of volcanos in sight. After a 2 1/2 hour drive we arrived at the main bus stop from Xela ( 2335 m ), the terminal Minerva - from there I had to get to the other side from a market ( probably the market is not every day ), since there - near the Templo de Minerva - the "city busses" left for the downtown. Xela is Guatemala' second largest city and I did stay there for 3 nights at the Hotel Casa Florencia ( from Parque Centroamerica go just a few meters up the 12a Av and you're there ) basically as a base for day trips to nearby towns. What I also found interesting is that the traditional costumes here where a lot different to the one's in f.e. Solola - but I just realized that I didn't take any pictures here of the colorful clothing in Xela - to bad, but to late! Here a few impressions of this town:
Street of Xela Just a door in Xela Street of Xela
Parque Centroamerica On the side of Parque Centroamerica

Totonicapán    ( Saturday 02/26 )

Wow, on saturday I slept till 9am - first time on this vacation that I get up "late". I did get my breakfast at the Hotel and left at 10am to walk up to the corner ( 4a Calle / 12a Av ) where almost all busses came through ( from Terminal Minerva ). After a 10 minute wait I was on my way - in an overcrowded bus - to Totonicapán ( 2500 m) and it's Saturday market. This market is definitely one - made for locals and not for tourists. There where just 3 other tourists in "my" sight.
Bus stop at Toto Main Plaza of Toto The market in Toto
On this market I did go shopping for fabrics, and I really had a very hard time to decide what to buy. In the end I bought one big piece of fabric - the kind local women use for their skirts - for about $22 ( 180 GTQ - in the beginning the guy was asking for 370 GTQ ) and one of these typical very colorful pieces for $2 ( 18 GTQ ) where locals will wrap up their stuff ( or also babys ). Than I just did hang out around the plaza & the market for about 2 hours, to take some pictures and eat fresh fruits, before I got back to Toto's ( short form from Totonicapán ) bus stop to catch a ride back to Xela.

Zunil   &   San Andrés Xecul    ( Sunday 02/27 )

Valley of Zunil On Sunday I did again walk up to the "bus corner" of Xela, this time to catch a bus to Zunil ( 2079 m ). Zunil is a pretty agricultural and market town in a lush valley, framed by steep hills and a volcano in the back. Stone fences divide the different agricultural plots and canals are everywhere, to water the plants the locals scoop the water out of the canals and throw it over the greens. One main attraction of Zunil is the very pretty church. One other attraction is the cult around the mayan deity "San Simón", the effigy is moved every year to a different house and locals bring him offerings like rum, cigarettes, flowers and candles. So I asked a kid if he could show me the way to San Simón, and he brought me up to a pretty "dark" house, in front of it there was a small stall where you could buy offerings, so I did get a candle. Than I asked if I could take a picture and they asked for 5 GTQ ( about 60 cents ) to allow the picture - since some people where kind of praying inside I didn't want to use my flashlight, but the photo turned out to be not to bad ( even if it's a little dark ).


Church of Zunil
Zunil's church

The house of San Simón
The house of San Simón
Off Zunil's main plaza
Off Zunil's main plaza

San Simón
San Simón
Back of Zunil's church
Back of Zunil's church

A Bus leaving Zunil's valley
A bus leaving Zunil's valley


I walked up a hill ( on the street to the Fuentes Georginas ) and looked down on Zunil for a while. I enjoyed to sit there quietly and just observe my surroundings. After a while many people came up one street and first I was wondering what was going on till I realized that this was a funeral march. Since the procession was on the street I had to cross to get back to the bus stop I did wait till they passed and walked then back into the valley to catch a bus back to Xela.

Since I was back in Xela at 2 pm I decided to look for a bus to San Andrés Xecul, that's a small village with a very "yellow" church - I had seen pictures from it and wanted to see it with my own eyes. After a while I realized that obviously a bus to this little village comes by Church of San Andrés Xecul once in a while and it seemed to be impossible to predict when the next bus would leave ( maybe there wouldn't be any bus on this day anyhow ! ). So I stopped a Taxi and asked the driver how much the drive to San Andrés Xecul ( about 7 km from Xela ) would cost, he told me the price would be 180 GTQ ( about $20 ). So I just said "no gracias" and turned around and walked on, the cab driver did slowly drive near me and shouted through the window 100 GTQ, so I walked again up to the window and offered him 50 GTQ, at the end we agreed on 70 GTQ ( I have no clue if it was way to much, it was definitely fine for me ). After about 3 km we arrived in Salcajá, from there we had to turn left uphill on a dirt road, which was in very bad shape for about 4 km to till we arrived in San Andrés Xecul - first I thought about asking the driver to wait for me, but than I decided that I'll walk the way back to Salcajá - and from there I'll catch a bus back to Xela. So I got out of the Taxi and walked the last few meters through the village till I got to the plaza with this yellow church. Since there was a service at the time of my arrival I was not able to get into the church ( or at least I didn't want to disturb the service). So I did sit down on the plaza and looked at the church. After about 30 min I decided to head back to the main Street, so I did walk for about an hour down this dirt road - actually it was more comfortable to walk the street compared to driving on it. At around 5.30pm I was again back in Xela.



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