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San Marcos, Department of San Marcos

The city of San Marcos is the capital of the department of San Marcos. It is located about one hour west of Quetzaltenango (Xela) between that city and the Mexican border. It could be said that the city of San Marcos is something of a small Xela. Both cities are located in Guatemala's western highlands and have a simmilar atmosphere. San Marcos, like Xela, is a city of narrow streets and colonial buildings against a backdrop of high mountains. Social interactions in San Marcos are marked by the reserved, polite culture of the Guatemalan highlands. And because of its highland location, indigenous culture abounds in San Marcos as in Xela.

Education is one of the biggest industries in San Marcos. The city has numerous primary and secondary schools. Many marquenses, as the cities residents are known, are employed as teachers. And there are paper stores selling school supplies on virtually every corner. Every afternoon students, in their neat uniforms, flood the city's narrow streets and parks. You see groups of students swarming around push-cart ice cream vendors and young couples walking slowly arm in arm.

Many foreigners pass through San Marcos every day. To get from the Mexican border to Xela, one must past through the city and indeed change buses at the San Marcos bus terminal. Also, many foreigners staying in Xela pass through the city of San Marcos on their way to the popular Tajumulco and Tacana volcanoes. 

Until now there has been no tourist infrastructure in San Marcos. This is surprising since the city's small size and relaxed atmosphere make an ideal introduction to Guatemala. People in San Marcos are approachable and friendly.

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