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