Settling down in Guatemala (july 14, 2010)

After Jed's drive and Meg's flight, we were finally both in Guatemala. First a little background on where we're living in Guatemala.

We're living in the western highlands of Guatemala in a city called Quetzaltenango. Quetzaltenango (or Xela as it commonly known based its ancient name in the indigenous language) is the second largest city in Guatemala with a population of about 400,000 people. It is located about 125 miles from Guatemala City though the drive takes about 3 1/2 hours because the road, while a very good 4 lane highway, is mountainous (it passes over the highest point on the Pan-American highway, which is just over 10,000 feet). Xela itself is at just over 7,500 feet.
This altitude makes for spring like weather conditions where it is warm in the sun but cool in the shade with daytime highs in the mid-70s and lows in 50's at night. Of course, there is some seasonal alteration, during the rainy season and other times, so it can be cooler as well. While Xela is the second largest city in Guatemala, it is only 1/10 the size of Guatemala City. This makes Xela is big enough that there are big supermarkets, movie theaters, and every other type of service you can imagine but small enough that it still has a historical core that feels like a small city.
We quickly settled into our apartment in Xela, a furnished place that we've rented for the first few months we're in the country. The apartment is one of 5 apartments surrounding a small garden and fountain and is 2-bedroom duplex with a nice kitchen.

There is also a view of the surrounding mountains and volcanoes from the terrace.
So far we've found Xela to be a great place to live. The colonial center is a very walkable and picturesque area. Just 4 blocks from our house there is a lovely central park, where there are always people doing something. More updates will follow as we continue to get settled into our life here, but so far so good.

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