31 May La Cuiadad de Campeonetas
Xela, Xela, Xela!* The resounding repetition was our cue to hop on the chicken bus that would take us to quite possibly the cutest city in the whole world. Nine eager, ambitious and passionate participants had joined us just a day prior with a gleam of adventure in their eyes and the faintest hint of nerves in their steps. After a whirlwind of t-20 hours in the capital, Guatemala City, we planned to hit the highlands for a week filled in the most OG-way possible. Quetzaltenango, or the more colloquial Xela, was our destination and chicken bus was our transportation. Four hours and one flat tire later, we arrived in the lovely city we were to call home for the next week or so (though we should mention the flat tire was not the cause of the lengthy journey. In fact, we´ve never seen a tire changed so quickly, let alone on a bus full of people and baggage).
As we settled into our cozy little casita, we caught word that that night, Xela´s soccer team was in the final for the Guatemalan National Championship against Municipal, a team from the capital. Quite the big deal to say the least. Soccer isn´t a sport here, it´s a way of life. Needless to say, watching the game was a must. After preparing a tipico dinner in the casita, we all crowded around the TV and cheered on the Xelaju SuperChivos (the Super Goats). The game was a nail biter and after regular time and double overtime, the fate was left to penalty kicks. Some closed their eyes, some shouted at the TV, some asked what penalty kicks even were. At the end of all of it though, the Super Chivos took the cake and eleven gringos transformed into full-fledged supporters. Immediately after the intense win, fireworks blasted and shouts blared through the streets. What a night to be from Xela! The crew headed into town to take it all in and celebrate the local way. Streets overflowed with people and food, bars were filled with TVs and cerveza, and here we were in the midst of it all on our very first night out together. There couldn´t be any more excitement in this Ciudad de Campeonetas, this City of Champions.
*(Pronounced Shay-la for those of you without the privilege of joining us on this trip).