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welcome to xela

We arrive in Xela early enough in the day to have ample time to find somewhere to stay and then address myself to the task of finding a good restaurant where I can celebrate my birthday in style.

Xela has a surprising good, if somewhat pricey, Indian restaurant where I decide to celebrate my birthday. The fish curry was truly excellent.

After an extremely satisfactory birthday dinner, Silke and I start to walk towards the guesthouse where we are staying, a mere two blocks from the Sabor de la India in the centre of Xela. It is between 8 and 8.30 pm.

A couple of kids, about 14 and 17 years old, suddenly appear on the street beside us and after trying to initiate a conversation they make a grab for Silke’s bag. She resists and the older boy brandishes a knife with a volitile mix of nervousness and menace. The younger boy is orbiting the scene erratically and it takes me a second or two to grasp the situation. As I enter the fray the other lad releases Silke’s bag and somehow, in the general scuffle, the knife, which is – thankfully – small and not very sharp, and my hand connect.

The four of us are still at an uncertain standoff when car crosses a nearby intersection and the boys retreat up the hill, to where a adult man is supervising their somewhat inexpert efforts. All three watch as Silke and I fumble with our bunch of five unmarked, and very similar, keys, trying clumsily to open the iron gate of the guesthouse.

Once safely inside, I examine the scratch on my hand. The guesthouse is associated with one of Xela’s innumerable language schools and the school is clearly the main focus of the business – the guesthouse only boasts of three rooms and there are no staff present after 4pm. However, a man from the affiliated travel agency is still at work in his office and we tell him what has happened. He assiduously cleans my insignificant wound but displays an evident reluctance to call the police. I can think of better ways to spend the rest of the evening than hanging around a police station myself and so since no real harm came of the incident we decide to forget it.

The next day, however, around mid-morning a man, who introduces himself as Angel, appears in the garden of the guesthouse and he wants to know all the details of the episode. Angel, it transpires, works for INGUAT – the Guatemalan government’s department of tourism – and his job, as he describes it, it to protect tourists from any of the various unfortunate things that might befall them. I am unsure of exactly how he heard of our minor mishap but it was clear that he takes the matter quite seriously. After he takes detailed notes on our account he asks us to accompany him to the police station to make an official report.

Angel's unenviable job is to protect tourists and he appears to take it quite seriously. He is keen for us to report the incident to the police so that he can look at video footage from a street camera that has recently been installed at the intersection near the entrance to our guesthouse and so we oblige him. He tells me last year that he had to leave Xela for a while due to threats against him and his family.

The paperwork takes some time to complete and we have to sign multiple copies...something like octuplicate, I think.

{ 2 } Comments

  1. Jonathan | March 7, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Hi Anna, good to see you in transit and am envious that you found some good Indian food to eat. Wish someone in Brazil was this interested in mishaps coming to foreigners!!!

  2. Melda | March 7, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Happy (belated) birthday!
    I’m glad that it wasn’t any worse, and that there’s someone there who takes an interest.

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