Feb 27, 2012

Carnaval in Xela: Just Add Flour and Eggs...

Throughout Latin America, Carnival remains one of the most highly anticipated holidays of the year. Rooted in Catholic traditions, Carnaval precedes Ash Wednesday, the day beginning the Lent period of fasting and prayer. Though every Latin American country possesses its own unique Carnaval traditions, the holiday universally marks a day for festivities and partying.

So last week, all of us QT guides were amped for the opportunity to accompany the 15 Hogar Abierto children to the Carnaval celebrations in Xela. With a huge (though somewhat outdated) fair erected in the Parque Calvario, toddlers and teens parading throughout the city in costume, and street vendors peddling glitter and confetti, Carnaval promised to be an enjoyable cultural experience. Fun for the whole family, right?

Little did we realize the chaos that would ensue. Immediately upon entering the fair, we unsuspecting gringos were bombarded with a barrage of flour and raw eggs. Guatemalan teenagers from far and wide caught wind of our arrival and came sprinting for the opportunity to join in the assault. You see, in Guatemala, the eggs and flour are customary aspects of Carnaval. For days before the holiday, local youth amass small arsenals of the baking ingredients so that they might pelt their friends and siblings on Carnaval day. Kids attacked, we retaliated (or at least tried), more children arrived, and local spectators videotaped as our clothes transformed into mottled collages of white and yellow.

Overall, the evening was great fun. The Hogar kids were able to enjoy the rides and fair food, we guides got to experience Guatemalan traditions firsthand, and my hair was coated in raw eggs, which I've heard possess numerous benefits for hair health. Carnaval was at times chaotic, and perpetually messy, but we would not have missed it for the world.  

Feb 15, 2012

New Trek Alert: Rock Climbing at La Muela!

Well ok, it may not be a trek per say, but nonetheless the Quetzaltrekker guides and I are thrilled to reestablish the old favorite: rock climbing at La Muela. Located on the outskirts of Xela near Cerro Quemado, La Muela is a sacred lava field that attracts hundreds of Mayan pilgrims each year. One of the most well established climbing areas in Central America, the site not only offers stunning views of Xela, but also numerous routes for both novice and advanced climbers.

Trips are scheduled on demand and include food, transport, gear, and super sexy, experienced guides. QT clients pay 250Q, depart Casa Argentina around 9am, and can expect to return mid-afternoon. As always, 100% of the profits benefit the Escuela de la Calle (EDELAC) and the Hogar Abierto.

Right now, Quetzaltrekkers has 15 wonderful volunteer guides, a number significantly higher than the standard 8-10. Though this influx of guide can pose its challenges at times (15 people for 1 bathroom eek!), the large number also has its advantages. For one, cooking for 15 people forces each of us to evoke our inner Julia Child. Second, with more guides, we can offer more treks, and thus earn more profits for EDELAC and the Hogar. Finally, and most importantly, each guide brings something unique to the table. All passionate about Quetzaltrekkers’ mission, the guides all possess their own interests, expertise, and experiences. With this variety of skills, QT can now offer a more diverse selection of treks and activities, such as rock climbing.

So, if rock climbing tickles your fancy, or you want to come meet all the new guides, shoot us an email or call us! Better yet, come visit our office in the back of Casa Argentina! We’d love to see you! In the meantime, stay tuned for more information about QT guides, treks, and other deep thoughts.