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About Quetzaltenango

Western mountainous state in Guatemala
Founded: 1845
Altitude: 2333 meters above sea level.
Inhabitants: Approx. 500,000
Climate: Warm Days, Cool Nights
Temperature: Max 22C - Minimum 6C

Parties: the 8th of September to the 17th party of the Independence.
In the month of October in honor to the Rosario's Virgin.

Telephones of Emergency:
Firemen: 122-002
Police: 7761-2416 and 7761-2569.

Guatemala is very rich in history, and this history is well beyond what we can provide on this website. We suggest you pick up a Guide book (The "Rough Guide" of Guatemala is particularly great) before your arrival as they greatly enhance your travels in Guatemala and provide an incredible wealth of information wherever you may find yourself in the country.

Recommended Hotels in Xela
Casa Argentina: Diagonal 12, 8-37, Zone 1; 7761-2470
Casa Isabel: Diagonal 12, callejon 10, D12-50, Zone 1; 7761-0425
Hostal Don Diego: 6a. Calle 15-12, Zona 1 - 5511-3211

Getting Around Quetzaltenango
Although disconcerting at first, it is pretty easy once you feel your way around. Local buses are good for long distances and only cost Q1.00. However, most places can be reached on foot in less than 45 minutes. The buses basically go in two directions: to the Minerva terminal or the Rotunda and all pass by Parque Central at some point. It is always best to ask. Buses going to Minerva terminal can be caught in 8a Calle at the intersection of 12 Avenida. They either go out 4a Calle (El Calvario) or up 14 Avenida and nearly all pass through or near La Democracia. Going to the Rotunda, buses stop at 10a Calle near 11 Av.

Coffee Houses in Quetzaltenango
La Luna: Corner of 8 Avenida 4 Calle. This quaint little cafe has the best cup of hot chocolate in town!! Also serve coffee and great deserts. It is great for studying since the music is soft.

Café Baviera: 5a Calle 13-14, Zona 1, just off of the park. Good music and many types of coffees and deserts.

Blue Angel Video Cafe: 7a Calle 15-22 Zona 1. Coffee and light meals available. This is an excellent place to find volunteer or social work, many organized social workers and volunteers have weekly meetings here.

Restaurants in Quetzaltenango Guatemala
Cardinalli's Pizza: 14 Avenida, below the Teatro Municipal. Good pizza, Italian style and safe salads.

Guiseppe's: 15 Avenida 4 Calle. Second floor of the commercial centre across from the post office. Great pizza, Italian food and safe salads.

Cafe Royal Paris: 3a Calle 14A-32. It is on the corner of 3a Calle and 14 Avenida "A" up on the second level. Amazing veggie sandwiches & salads & all sorts of food. Whole Wheat bread for sale. Variety of wine and beer.

Hotel Modelo: 14 Avenida A, 2 blocks above 4 Calle, Zona 1. North American style coffee and breakfast. Try the pancakes!! Hours: daily 7:15-9 AM, lunch 1-3 PM, dinner 7-9 PM.

Important Documents
Passport, photocopy of your passport, driver's license or other identification, traveler's checks, $50.00 in cash, and a local Ladatel phone card are recommended.

Check before you leave, but most travellers will find it very easy to enter Guatemala. You will almost always be issued a 90 day tourist visa which can be extended in a number of ways if needed.  Visa can be reissued at Adrenalina Tours inside Pasaje Enrique in Xela for Q350.00 a useful aid for the longer term student. This service takes approx. 1 week.

For Visa information: http://www.guatemala-embassy.org

Changing Money in Quetzaltenango
Local banks are generally able to cash dollars or travelers checks Monday - Friday from 9:00 am to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9:30 am to 1:00 p.m.; Bring your passport, Xeroxes are not accepted. Given the problem of changing large bills in local markets and tiendas, we suggest you request bills no larger than Q20 or Q50 when changing money.

There are several ATMs on the perimeter of the Central Park in Xela. Nearly all of these accept MasterCard and Visa Debit cards (Check cards). There is also a bank that accepts MasterCard credit cards, but is a short bus ride away to the other side of town, in the American style mall La Pradera which contains Hyper Piaz.  The bank is located below the food court and is called Banco America Central.   Other credit companies are spotty here, but banks are eager to exchange, best to start with the banks in the Central Park.

If you want to receive a Money Gram, you must use Banco del Cafe. The sender must go to an American Express office and provide them with your name (as it appears on your passport) , the name and address of the bank (Banco Del Cafe, 12 Avenida 5-50, Zona 1, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala). It is a good idea for the sender to call you with the money gram number. You can pick up your money within 40 minutes of when it is sent.

Many banks are now connected to Western Union and money can be sent from any other Western Union office in the world. You need the order number and the location it was sent from in order to pick the money up here.

VACCINATIONS for Quetzaltenango
It is recommended that those traveling in Guatemala update their tetanus, Hepititus, diphtheria and poliomyelitis shots before leaving. If you plan to visit rural areas, typhoid and gamma globulin are also highly recommended to prevent typhoid and hepatitis A. It is best to complete these at least two weeks before departure. Malaria is not a danger in Xela, but can be near the coasts and in the Petén region. For more information on vaccinations, visit this web site: http://www.cdc.gov/travel/camerica.htm

Note: Malaria pills (cloroquina) are not necessary in Xela. However, you may want to consider them if you plan to go to the coast or the Petén. You may buy them over the counter in a local pharmacy; the dosage is customarily 500 mg at a time once a week one week before your trip until three weeks after. Also taking vitamin B1 (Anything with Thiamin) five days before you arrive in an area that has mosquitoes discourages them from biting you.

Stomach illnesses
One of the most common illness people deal with is diarrhea and this usually occurs within the first week. Many times the body is simply adjusting to its new environment, food and fluids. If the problems persists more that two or three days, it could be evidence that the student has picked up bacteria, parasites or amoebas. To know what is causing the diarrhea, we recommend having a feces sample analyzed in the lab (Q24) at Hospital Privado Quetzaltenango (Rodolfo Robles, Zona 3). A print out of your results will be available later the same day. It is advisable to then visit a doctor, (approximately Q50) to give you an exam, analyze the lab results and offer a prescription. We recommend that you do not eat food sold in the streets or markets and that you do not drink tap water, eat salad or uncooked vegetables unless you believe they are safe. After a month or two you will learn which foods are generally safe. Alert Xela does suggest you try the open air foods on the perimeter of the Central Park market, especially those located on the south end.

Safety in Quetzaltenango
Theft in Guatemala is generally no more prevalent than most other places in the world. Like everywhere in the world, please take proper precautions, particularly in crowded places such as markets or buses. If students keep things in a money pouch, it should be under clothing. Note: We highly recommend carrying a copy and not your original passport so as to avoid paying $50.00 and waiting 3 days in Guatemala City to receive a new one in the case that you lose it!! When travelling, carry with you a photocopy of your passport. If you are going to be traveling on unknown bus routes, please ask in the office about the safety of the area.

Xela is a relatively safe city. People generally feel safe walking around until 9PM or later. However, after dark following the "stay away from deserted streets that aren't lit" rule is always a good idea. Please remember to look both ways before crossing the street, as pedestrians do not have any manner of claim to the road. In fact, we recommend paranoia as a companion while traversing the streets here. We encourage students to walk each other home after nighttime activities. Always remember that a taxi is a good value for the safety it can give.

Friendly Advice
Leave all the myths behind and bring along some extra patience and flexibility.
We look forward to seeing you!