I scored a major FAIL on taking photos this weekend -- or really doing even a one of the touristy things in the city of Xela -- but what can I say, the weekend didn't turn out to be at all what I expected. But, in a good way.
When Jess and I left Friday afternoon for Xela (officially known as Quetzaltenango but called Xela -- the Mayan name used before the Spanish came and took over -- by those who truly know and love it), we'd been expecting a quiet weekend relaxing and just sort of chilling by ourselves. While Xela is a cool town, there isn't necessarily much to do there. The Fuentes Georginas hot springs used to be the biggest attraction, but that was before Tropical Storm Agatha came along and closed them to the public indefinitely. Womp womp.
Xela now remains a university town (but a big one; it's the second-biggest city in Guatemala after the capital) tucked up in the moutains, with chilly weather and strangely non-Guatemalan architecture (the central park was styled after Greece and Rome, with columns flanking either end and a pretty rotunda in the middle). The biggest plan Jess and I had for the weekend was going to be sipping McFlurries while reading in the park.
Well, plans changed! When we got to our hostel and found our dorm room, we noticed that we'd be sharing the room with two other people who'd already dropped off their stuff. Five seconds later, in walk Jenny and Sarah!
Jenny and Sarah were two of the NPH volunteers who had just left on Tuesday. Last we heard, they'd been headed to Nicaragua for some post-NPH traveling. However, due to some visa issues and crossing the border issues (love to hate Guatemalan immigration services), their plans changed and they ended up in Xela! Guatemala continues to be such a small place.
Anyway, that changed all our weekend plans. We all went out together on Friday night, met up with Jenny's friends who lived in Xela, and didn't make it home to the hostel until around 4 a.m. Consequently, we slept most of the next day, scrapped the McFlurries and books in the park idea, and instead took the afternoon to visit Xela's big market and famous bakery, XelaPan. We met up with Jenny's friend from the night before, grabbed late-afternoon coffees in the park, and oohed and ahhed over the adorable puppy he had brought along (seriously, cutest dog EVER). We met up again for quick drinks later that night and then called it an early night.
And THEN, on Sunday, instead of taking a series of uncomfortable chicken buses back home, Jenny's friend had set us up with a friend of his who was leaving Xela and passing Parramos on his way back to the capital. Gracias to all these friend connections, Jess and I enjoyed a cushy ride in an air-conditioned car that took half the time to get us back as the chicken buses would have.
So, fail on photos to document the weekend, but score on transportation back home and a few new friends. Not at all what we'd been expecting in Xela, but an awesome weekend nontheless!