2.Is it adviseable to change money
at the airport?
3.How long does it take
to travel from Guatemala city to Xela?
4.Should I get a taxi or private
pickup service from the airport?
5.How do I get to the school
when I arrive in Xela?
6.Where can I change money in
7. What vacunations do I need_
8.Stomach ailments and can they
9.Can I get presciption medication
10.Can I buy over the counter
11.Whats the climate like in
13.What are the families like?
14.Internet,fax,phone and mail
15.Why has Xela two names?
If possible we recommend that you book a flight that arrives
in Guatemala city during the morning. This will give you
plenty of time to get your bags and the money changers will
2.Is it adviseable to change money at
Yes, it's a good idea to exchange $50-$100 into Quetzals.
Once you pass Customs you are in the arriving passengers'
lobby. In front of you will be an INGUAT (National Tourist
Service) booth. They gladly answer all questions. There
is a bank in this lobby area and
another one upstairs on the 2nd floor of the airport after
you exit to the outside. There is an ATM machine in this
lobby also, however, the amount you can withdraw is limited.
It is recommended that you change some money before leaving
Exchange Rate: $1.00 US = Q7.50 Quetzal
3.How long does it take to travel
from Guatemala city to Xela?
The bus trip takes approximately four hours on a "Pullman"
bus, which are the 1st class buses. These buses are comfortable
but they do not come equiped with bathrooms. It is wise
to go before you leave the station. If you have to go during
the trip the driver will stop but you have to tell him.
are four 1st class bus companies in Guatemala city that
have service to Xela. Please check the schedule link below as times change often.
Schedule Information - http://www.xelapages.com/trans.htm
Linea Dorada: 16 Calle 10-03, Zona 1 Tel: 2232-5843
Direct Buses - 8am & 3pm
Bus: 21 Calle 0-14, Zona 1 Tel: 2251-4838
Guatemala to Xela Approx: 4 hours
Américas: 2a Avenida 18-47, Zona 1 Tel: 2232-1432
Xela Apporx: 4 hours
recommend you take the Linea Dorada due to their direct bus service.
Catch a taxi at the airport to the bus station, which will
then take you to Xela. Total cost 60 to 80 Quetzals($8 to $10)
Tell the Taxi driver to take you to the Linea Dorada, Alamo or
Americas bus station they all know wher they are.
4.Do you recommend guest houses or hotels near the airport?
Here are a few hostals near the airport.
5.How do I get to the school when
I arrive in Xela?
Once you arrive in Xela you can take a taxi, which should cost
about 30 to 40 Quetzals and take about 5 to 10 mins. Arrange beforehand
with the coodinator of the school so someone is waiting
for you in the school.
Address to find us in Xela:
La Paz Spanish School
2a. Calle Callejon 16 2-47, Zona 1
Other numbers in Guatemala to contact us are:
4018-2180 ask for Angelica or 4364-7400 ask for Marlene (English)
The school is located on 2 Calle between 16 and 19 Ave. The school is located on a short side street called Callejon 16.
You can also find a larger more detailed map of Xela at
6.Where can I change money in Xela?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Travelers Checks. You easily exchange travelers checks in
Quetzaltenango and other tourist spots of Guatemala. American
Express is much more widely accepted than other brands,
so it is best to bring American Express travelers checks
7. What vacunations do I need?
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.
8.Stomach ailments and can they be
One of the most common ailments 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
Some tips on preventing stomach aliments are:
Only drink bottled water or water that has been purified
- Do not eat food from street stands.
- Always wash your hands before eating. Instant hand sanitizing
is nice to have.
- Do not eat raw and unpeeled or unwashed fruits or vegetables.
- Do not eat salad or lettuce unless you are sure it has
9.Can I get presciption medication in
Please bring an adequate supply of any prescription medicines
that you will need during your stay here. While there are
many pharmacies here that sell a wide variety of medication,
it is possible that you will not be able to find what you
need. Also, bring a copy of your prescription with you and
make sure you have the generic name of your medication if
possible. It is possible that your medication is known only
by the generic name here in Guatemala not the name the pharmaceutical
company gives it.
10.Can I buy over the counter medicines?
Quetzaltenango has dozens of pharmacies, 2 shopping malls
with large supermarkets as well as a large outdoor marketplace
where you can find just about any type of over the counter
medication or other items you might need. If you forget
an item or two, it is highly likely you can find it in Xela.
11.Whats the climate like in Xela?
Quetzaltenango is located in the highlands of western Guatemala,
at an altitude of approximately 7500 feet or 2300 mts. While
days can be warm and sunny, early mornings and evenings
- and even afternoons on a cloudy day -- can be quite cool
here; in the months of December through February, temperatures
can drop to freezing! Moreover, homes in Quetzaltenango
are made of cement block, and they are not heated. As a
result, nights can be extremely cold. It is therefore very
important to take into consideration the variability of
the weather, and the often cold temperatures, when packing
your bags. It is best to bring clothing that will allow
you to dress in layers, for example a combination of short
and long sleeve shirts.
Xela is a fairly conservative city. Although you will see
Guatemalan women dressed very modern at times, more conservative
looks are common. For women: as foreign women you will receive
attention that you may not want. It usually consists of
whistles or comments on the street. It is best to just ignore
and keep walking. Wearing tight or revealing clothing may
only bring more unwanted attention. Tank tops are fine and
skirts, but not too short. It is perfectly acceptable for
women to wear pants and jeans; however, a skirt or dress
is nice to have for an evening out.
class your materials are provided for you, except for writing
utensils and paper. It is easy to buy pens, pencils, and
notebooks at local bookstores. These supplies are quite
inexpensive. It is recommended that you bring your own Spanish/English
small version of a verb conjugation manual. If you have
any specific textbooks or materials you would like to use
in class, please bring them and your teacher will be happy
to incorporate it into your studies
13.What are the families like?
Many of you will choose to live with a wondaful Guatemalan
Your family will provide you with:
Potable drinking water
· Hot water for bathing
· 3 meals a day
· Linens and blankets for your bed
· Toilet Tissue
family will not provide you with a towel nor washcloth.
You will need to bring your own or buy one here.
families are very different in make-up and personalities.
Some are single moms and may or may not have another job
outside of the home. Extended families living under one
roof is common. It is likely there may be a cousin or grandparents
in the home as well. Most homes are simple, but clean. Sometimes,
however, you may have to readjust what your idea of ¨clean¨
may be. The ultra cleanliness in many homes in other countries
may not exist here.
The diet in Guatemala is basic and unless you are a vegetarian
you will be given the same as what the rest of the family
eats. Normally, families eat a lot of black beans,! eggs
and rice. They may not eat as many vegetables or the same
kinds as you may be accustomed to. Fruits are plentiful
here in Guatemala, but they are more commonly prepared as
beverages for the noon meal or as fruit smoothies and for
differences. Please remember when you stay with a host family
that there will be significant differences from your own
home and culture, especially in your living environment.
Please try to be flexible and understanding and take the
opportunity to turn what may be some uncomfortable moments
into occasions for learning and self-reflection.
14.Internet,fax,phone and mail services.
are about a dozen or more Internet Cafés in Xela.
Most of them offer Internet access for less than $1.00/hour.
Many of these same cafés offer inexpensive calls/faxes
to the USA and Europe.
of the host families will have telephones however, it is
not recommended that you use their phone for outgoing calls.
There have been problems in the past with unpaid phone bills
left by students. However, it is possible to receive incoming
calls, but it is best to ask your family first.
Guatemalan Mail System "El Correo" is somewhat
reliable for sending postcards and letters home to your
family members. However, it take about 2 weeks for cards
to reach the USA and longer for Europe.
important documents there are other companies like DHL,
King Express, UPS, GuateEx..etc which can guarantee delivery
with package tracking.
has Xela two names?
Quetzaltenango and Xela are the same place. Xela pronounced
"Shay-la" is the shortened version of the Mayan
name for Quetzaltenango which is Xelaju.