From Lanquin I took a shuttle to Antigua and stopped there for a night before heading to Xela, which I took a chicken bus.
Xela is the second biggest city in Guatemala and is famed by tourists for its hiking and Spanish Schools. People usually come here longer term To do Spanish lessons and stay with host families. Xela had really good vibes and felt really safe. It is set in the middle of the western highlands and has the culture of Antigua but the more modern feeling of a Guatemalan city. In other ways, it's just seemed like a more mature, less touristy Antigua and doesn't have some of the colonial feel surrounding it.
I stayed in the Black Cat hostel near to the Parque Central for 2 nights. This was a nice hostel which gave amazing free breakfasts and was placed in the middle of the city. The first afternoon I arrived was really chilled and I wanted to do some shopping around for some hikes areound the region. I found one which started at midnight and takes you to a lookout of one of the most active volcanoes in Central America. I would have liked to have climbed the Volcano Santa Maria but a hike wasn't happening when I was there so this had to suffice.
on my first full day there I did a walking tour of the city, based on a local magazine called "Xelawho" which was really handy information in english about the city and what is going on. The cit has amazing markets selling fruit, veg, meat, bits and bobs, food vendors, clothes and much, much more. The biggest one is called Mercardo Minerva and is near the chicken Bus station. Every turn is an adventure into a new world and so many different things. The city also has nice churches, coffee shops and bars which I had a lovely day wondering around.
So then to the hike, starting off at midnight was really weird but the hostel were really good and allowed me to stay in the common room, turning the lights off and giving me a blanket, despite not having a bed for the night. We then travelled to the base of the volcano and traveled using head torches to the view point where we made a fire and sat waiting for eruptions. We waited 2 hrs for eruptions and of course nothing happened until we decided to leave after which we ended up running back after seeing the puff of smoke in the air! After sunrise we came back down the mountain. The surrounding area is so, beautiful and well kept. There, is first and farming and it would be really nice to have been able to explore the area more.
Arriving back in the morning, I decided the best thing to do would be to travel to Antigua then and then have a well deserved nap.
So, I had an amazing time, but unfortunatley my purse got pick pocketed on the bus on the way to Xela. Thankfully I had separated all jy stuff and only had atound 30 quids worth of cash in there, it was so annoying as I was hugging all my stuff for 98% of the journey and took my eye of of my small bag for one second to put my big bag on whilst changing buses (they don't give you long). Lesson learnt: money belt and make sure I separate stuff!
Next stop Antigua and reuniting with my travel elective partner!
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