Poco a Poco: Biking to San Andres Xecul, Guatemala

Xela, Guatemala (a.k.a., Quetzaltenango) lies at 8,000 feet in the heart of the country’s

Biking through the farmland near Xela.

highlands and at the center of its Mayan population. Xela (pronounced shay-lah) is a great base from which to explore a huge array of nearby sites and activities. However, at

that altitude, I’m wary of doing anything that requires more exertion than sampling some of the country’s great coffee in a café or watching others exert themselves in a game of fútbol. Still, the possibility of a trip to a rural village that boasts the most colorful church in all of Central America prompted me to get trade my café chair for a bike to ride to San Andrés Xecul.

Traditional Mayan worship meets Catholicism at San Andres Xecul in Guatemala

Fortunately, there were only a few steep patches, and the friendly people in the village (one little boy kept pointing at us and saying “Gringos, Mama!”), a nice sugary Roja from a local tienda, and the Technicolor church made it worth the occasional gasp for oxygen.  Our guide from Altiplano Tours  was merciful: “Poco a poco. It’s not a race.”  Poco a poco, little by little, became the mantra of our trip and as I think about it, that’s a pretty useful phrase for most of life.

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