Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

Monday, April 28, 2014

Life in Guatemala A to Z: X-pats and Xela

Central America is becoming populated with X-pats, or expatriates-- people who maintain their citizenship in their home countries while living permanently elsewhere. Many do it for lifestyle, health or financial reasons, since the lifestyle is simpler and more laid back than the US. And financially, if you have an income, like Social Security or disability or an Internet business, your money goes much further in Central America than it does in the States.

One of my favorite expats in Pana is Paul, originally from the U.S., who came here about a year ago for health reasons. He is very friendly and outgoing, and made my husband and I feel immediately welcome when we met him. We stayed at his place for our first month here, house sitting while he returned to the US for a visit.

Another interesting expat is Tom, a young man from the UK who makes and sells jewelry on Calle Santander every weekend. He stays occasionally at the hotel and helps out there. Tom has dreadlocks down to his waist, a soft cultured accent, a wealth of experience and intelligence, and a mom back in Wales who worries about him getting enough to eat. Tom enjoys the laid-back style of Pana and the other villages around Lake Atitlan, and it's a place where he can earn a living doing the creative work he enjoys.

My other X word is Xela, pronounced "shay-la", official name Quetzaltenango-- a city about 2 hours away from Panajachel. My family is unloading on arrival from our transportation, called a "chicken bus."
If you want to know why it's called a chicken bus, just check out a few of the items below that were also on the bus. Pay special attention to what's in the lady's pink bag.

Xela is a big city with a really nice shopping mall and a beautiful LDS temple. We walked and walked and walked, enjoying our time seeing the sights in this lovely city.



  1. Choosing another country other than one's own to live is a brave move. It is also an adventure that I often wished I had experienced.

    1. I never thought I'd do it at my age, although I always wanted to. Years ago I read A Year in Provence and was so jealous of that couple who moved to the south of France. And when I read Eat, Pray, Love, I couldn't understand how she could leave Thailand. LOL. I guess this was building for a while!

  2. She really has a basket of chickens there.
    I imagine you've met people from all over the world there.

  3. Amazing who you meet on your journey.

  4. I knew as soon as I read Chicken Bus what you's funny in the movies but not sure how I would do on a bus full of chickens.

  5. I'm a sort of ex-pat myself, to the U.S.A. and I can appreciate both the challenge and the adventure it is.

  6. Sounds like Paul and Tom are very happy in their expat lifestyle :) And the chicken bus sounds like a classic ;P
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - A to Z Ghosts
    Fantasy Boys XXX - A to Z Drabblerotic

  7. Love the chicken bus. Being an X-Pat living on social security doesn't sound like a bad idea.
    Gail visiting for AtoZ

  8. Your theme really makes me consider moving. You make everything sound so wonderful. Except for the bugs.

  9. Love the chicken in the bag:) I think more and more love to travel and live in other places as they lead a much calmer and healthier life. My friend lives, during the winter, in Thailand and it is so cheap and the food is great and he walks a lot-much better than in our neck of the woods

  10. I love the stories and photos of your experience in Guatemala. The chicken with its little beak poking out of the bag is priceless. I hope, against all odds, that she has a long and happy life.

  11. You certainly seem to be enjoying your adventure. At this point in my life, I'm not sure I could pull up stakes like that. Maybe if we could kidnap a couple of our grand kids to take with us.

  12. Hi Karen .. sounds like you really are settling in and meeting some interesting people - lovely photos .. cheers Hilary


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