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F.A.Q.'s


1.Flights
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 Xela?
7. What vacunations do I need_
8.Stomach ailments and can they be prevented?
9.Can I get presciption medication in Xela?
10.Can I buy over the counter medicines?
11.Whats the climate like in Xela?
12.Appropriate clothing.
13.What are the families like?
14.Internet,fax,phone and mail services.
15.Why has Xela two names?


1.Flights.

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 be open.

2.Is it adviseable to change money at the airport?

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 the airport.

Current 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.

There 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
Cost Q70.00

Alamo Bus: 21 Calle 0-14, Zona 1 Tel: 2251-4838
Guatemala to Xela Approx: 4 hours
Cost: Q50.00

Líneas Américas: 2a Avenida 18-47, Zona 1 Tel: 2232-1432 Guatemela to
Xela Apporx: 4 hours
Cost: Q40.00

We 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.

http://www.hoteldoslunas.com

http://www.hostalaurorados.com

http://www.theairportinn.com

http://www.aeropuertoguesthouse.com

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
Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

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 www.xelapages.com/mapa.htm

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.

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.


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 if possible.


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 prevented?

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 end.


Some tips on preventing stomach aliments are:

- Only drink bottled water or water that has been purified (boiled).
- Do not eat food from street stands.
- Always wash your hands before eating. Instant hand sanitizing lotion
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 been
disinfected

9.Can I get presciption medication in Xela?

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.


12.Appropriate clothing.
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.

For 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 dictionary and
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 host family.
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

Your family will not provide you with a towel nor washcloth. You will need to bring your own or buy one here.

The 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.

Food. 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 snacks.

Cultural 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.

There 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.

Many 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.

The 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.

For important documents there are other companies like DHL, King Express, UPS, GuateEx..etc which can guarantee delivery with package tracking.

15.Why 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.