Proyecto Lingüístico Quetzalteco de Español (PLQ) is located in the highland city of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Quetzaltenango (more commonly called Xela, pronounced “Shay-la”) is Guatemala’s second largest city and is located in the heart of the Sierra Madre mountains, 2,330 meters (7,652 feet) above sea level. It has an estimated population of 225,000. The population is about 61% indigenous and 34% mestizo or ladino. The Santa Maria volcano (3,772 meters tall) watches over the town. Days are warm and breezy, and evenings are cool, becoming chilly during the winter months between December and February.
Queltzaltenango is characterized by colonial-era buildings, quiet parks, plazas, open-air markets, and narrow stone-paved streets. It is the home of four universities, several technical schools, a sports complex, and a municipal arts theater, as well as several Latin American poets, painters, and writers. PLQ is located in Zona 1, on 5a Calle, a short walk from the Parque Central. In Zona 1, there are numerous restaurants, bars, cafes and internet centers; in short, everything you need to relax, meet people, and stay in touch with your friends and family back home. There are two alternative cinemas in town which feature a range of English and Spanish language movies. Further out of the center are two larger markets, and even a few shopping malls and mainstream movie theatres.
There are plenty of things to do within easy reach of Quetzaltenango. Perhaps the most famous destination is Fuentes Georginas, a series of volcanic hot spring pools set in the mountainous rainforest. Those who want to soak longer than an afternoon may stay the night in one of the bungalows near the hot springs. Zunil, a town at the foothills of the volcano that feeds the Georginas, is famous for its devotion to the Mayan/Catholic deity Maximon. The town is also home to a woman-run weaving cooperative. On the other side of Quetzaltenango is the pueblo of Salcaja, renowned for its textile production and for its Cathedral, the oldest in Guatemala. A bit further away is the Laguna de Chicabal, a beautiful nature reserve and lake nestled in temperate forests. PLQ also arranges weekly trips to places of cultural and social interest, such as the community radio station in Santiago de Atitlan, or centers of traditional medicine located in outlying villages.