Living in a rural town in Guatemala means you have to capitalize on trips to the big city. In our last post I recapped a 21K race I ran in Xela but that was not the main reason we needed to go there.
Prior to leaving the States we got vaccinated for Typhoid, Rabies and Hepatitis A. All of these shots are optional but encouraged by the CDC for long term residents. Hepatitis A is unique in that you need two shots 6-12 months apart. We all got shot #1 in the US about 6 months ago and were in need of our very last 'booster' shot.
Since you don't need a prescription to get meds in this country we figured it would be relatively easy to find a place where we could get this last shot. We were WRONG. We asked local clinics, pharmacies, doctors and charities where we could get this vaccine. They all told us that we'd need to go to either Xela or Guatemala City. The best part was nobody could even tell us where to go in those cities. On the other hand, we do know where we can get a generic form of morphine as one pharmacist tried to sell me that instead.
After many google searches and phone calls to clinics in Xela we finally found a place that would give us the vaccine, and it would cost about the same as a typical co-pay in the US.
First stop in Xela was the Clinca Medica Familiar.
While it might look sketch by American standards it was a good, clean, clinic. Clean...except for several algae filled fish tanks in the exam room that doubled as the doctor's office. The doctor was very professional. He showed me the unopened vaccine and syringes. He even had me watch as he broke the seals. The vaccine was the same brand and dosage we would have received in the US (the day before I called the pharmacist in the States that gave us our first shot so I would know what to expect). The doctor, not the nurse, gave us the shots and we paid him directly. When we left, there were several patients sitting in chairs waiting to see him. Overall, nothing surprised us. I guess we've adjusted.
Elle was miffed that we had planned this stop without telling her (she hates needles), but the overall experience was good enough.
On our way to our first shopping stop we passed a fried chicken joint with a 4 story tall concrete slide.
The first mall we went into had very few stores but they did have a few things to keep us entertained.
Next up was the MegaPaca.
Guatemalan's buy the majority of their clothes at pacas. A paca is a second hand store of clothes and generally some other random stuff. Think Goodwill or Salvation Army. The clothes are in decent to new shape and have often been donated from the States. Most pacas contain a broad assortment of clothes that are not sorted. Shirts, sweaters, jackets for men and women can be found intermingled on the same rack. Finding something you like in your size is often a treasure hunt. BUT, the MegaPaca in Xela has a bigger selection and everything is sorted by sex, style and size. Score!
We left with some amazing deals on clothes for the entire family as well as some Legos for Tag and a down comforter for Elle. Below are a few of the more random things we found, but DID NOT buy!
Before leaving town we visited the Centro (the historic center of town). It was very nice and scenic.
We had a sucessful trip to the "big" city and will be back.