Life in Xela, Things to do, leisure activities:
Located in the spectacularly beautiful western highlands of Guatemala, Quetzaltenango, also known as Xela (pronounced “SHAY-la”), is the second largest city in Guatemala. In addition to being one of the oldest cities in Guatemala, founded in 1524, Xela is proud to be one of the principle historic centers in Central America, with architecture that dates back to the 18th Century.
Quetzaltenango is nestled in the mountains and surrounded by four volcanoes: Santa Maria, Siete Orejas (Seven Ears), Cerro Quemado (Burned Hill), and Santiaguito, which is considered to be one of the four most active volcanoes in the world. Quetzaltenango is about four hours or 200 kilometers (124,300 miles), from Guatemala City and rests at an altitude of 7,544 feet/2,330 meters. The city has approximately 200,000 inhabitants, with the majority of them being of Mayan descent.
The climate is pleasantly cool, with cold nights, warm sunny days and an average temperature of 16° Celsius/68º Fahrenheit. In the winter, from November to February, night time temperatures dip as low as -2° C / 28° F. Since Guatemalan houses and buildings are unheated, you will need warm clothes for the evenings and mornings. However, the temperatures during the day in winter can get up to 20-25º C/68-77º F. During the rainy season, from May to October, afternoon or evening downpours are frequent, but there is usually sun for a good part of the day.
Quetzaltenango is a charming city bustling with life, but small enough for you to easily get to know. The city is not overrun by foreigners, so you will have a chance to experience Guatemalan daily life, as it really is. Xela offers many cultural and fun amenities: a beautiful colonial theater hosting live music and drama, movie theaters, restaurants and cafes, internet cafes, book stores, gyms, bars, disco techs, and several beautiful parks where you can sit and study Spanish.