Frequently Asked Questions
HOW TO GET HERE
Fly to Guatemala City (airport code GUA)
-The Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City (GUA) is the only airport in the country with flights to and from the United States, Canada and Europe. From there it is a four hour bus ride to Quetzaltenango.
Other possibilities: coming from Mexico you have the chance to arrive by shuttle from San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, into Quetzaltenango.
How do I get to Quetzaltenango from the airport in Guatemala City?
(Note: Try to purchase Guatemalan currency before arriving. You will get abetter rate than at the airport. Otherwise, when you arrive, you might want to change some money for taxis, buses, snacks, etc. at the airport exchange offices.)
First Option: A taxi can take you to a first class bus station (Alamo, Galgos, or Linea Dorada). This can cost you up to 10$USD. There you can buy your ticket to Xela, costs are about Q70 (about 10 $USD). From the Terminal in Xela you can hire a taxi in order to get to the family or hotel (costs are about 30 Quetzales).
Second Option: Another possibility is having us organize private transport to pick you up at the airport. If your flight arrives early enough in the day, our driver in Guatemala City, (Donaldo is his name) will meet you and will take you directly to the bus station to travel to Quetzaltenango the same day. The driver will arrange for your bus ticket.
We recommend you to avoid traveling from Guatemala City to Quetzaltenango any later than 3 o’clock in the afternoon. If you arrive later in the day we can recommend a hostel or hotel for overnight in Guatemala City. Our driver will meet you at the airport, take you to your accommodation, and pick you up the next day to take you to the bus depot.
Airport pickup service includes:
*airport pick up
*transfer to the bus station or hotel and bus station
We also offer pick up service in Quetzaltenango at the bus station.
For more information about these services, and for current costs, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
WHY SHOULD I COME TO XELA?
Xela provides an excellent opportunity for students to adapt to and truly immerse themselves in the Spanish language and Guatemalan culture. The Spanish accent of Guatemalans tends to be slower and clearer than other Spanish accents, making it easier to converse with local people you see everyday. Its also great to learn to speak with this accent as it encourages students to speak clearly and slowly.
Surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, students will find many hiking opportunities in the nearby area. The sights in the historic center of the city and the vibrant nightlife are also attractive reasons to study in Xela. Many travelers come to Xela only expecting to stay a few days, and end up enjoying it so much that they stay for many months.
WHAT IS SAFETY LIKE IN XELA?
Xela is a large town with a small town feel and you will find most people here are kind, patient with Spanish learners and interested in what you're doing here. The vast majority of students and volunteers have little to no trouble with crime in Xela. It's recommended to be vigilant of your surroundings and to walk with at least one other person after dark. Individuals should only carry small amounts of cash around town when possible and a copy of your passport (not the real thing). The most common crime experienced by students and volunteers tends to be petty theft when they are not paying attention.
WHERE IS KAMALBE SCHOOL?
The full address of the School is 14 Avenida A, 4-25, Zone 1, Quetzaltenango. It's easy to find walking west on 4ta Calle from Central Park. We're two buildings south of the first set of stoplights after the park (at 14ta Avenida A and 4ta Calle).
See a map of where we are here.
If you prefer, give us a call and we can meet you at your hostel, hotel or homestay.
WHAT ARE HOMESTAYS LIKE?
All the homestays provide a private room in a house less than ten minutes walk from the school. You will be served a wide range of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it will give you the chance to practice your Spanish at home and immerse yourself. There are frequently a few other students with the same homestay family which makes this an excellent opportunity to make friends outside of the usual travelling environment. All families that you stay with are genuinely happy to have you as a guest in their house, and you may find they are very interested in hearing about your life outside of Guatemala. The houses are generally large, and all have hot running water and can cater to vegetarians and people with food allergies.
If you prefer more independent accommodation, just let us know and we can provide some options.
CAN I CHANGE MY HOMESTAY OR TEACHER IF I WANT?
Of course! For whatever reason, no questions asked, you can change homestay families or teachers. Very few of our students have problems with their teacher or homestay as we make every effort to guarantee the highest quality of learning and service. If you experience any troubles or just want to a see what another teacher or family is like, let us know and we will arrange for the switch to happen as soon as possible.
AM I ABLE TO VOLUNTEER WITHOUT TAKING LESSONS?
Volunteers are welcome, whether they wish to learn Spanish at the same time or not. Contact us or drop by our school once you get to Xela and we can give you all the information you need to start.
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO BEFORE I LEAVE HOME?
Before you leave home make sure that you have your passport (and that it will not expire during the time you will be out of the country). It's recommended that travelers also visit a doctor who specializes in travel medicine before you leave home to ensure all your vaccinations are up to date and to be briefed on health information about traveling in this region of the world. Students, volunteers and interns should also consider financial arrangements before leaving home- how will you access money while out of the country and how will any bills you may have be paid while you are away? It is also a good idea to look into travelers' insurance depending on the length of time you are planning on traveling and the policies of your current health insurance.
WHAT SHOULD I PACK?
What to pack will vary from person to person. It depends on what kind of activities you plan on participating in while you're here. Here are 11 packing tips from us:
- Travel is much easier if you pack light. You can wash and dry a load of laundry in Xela for about 15 Quetzales (about $2.00USD). You’ll also want to save space for items you may acquire here and want to take home when you leave.
- The power outlets here are the same as US outlets, however its not easy to find three prong outlets. You can buy a cheap converter in Xela or in your home country.
- Most hostels and host families will provide blankets and towels/washcloths. They are inexpensive and easy to find when you get here if you find out you need something.
- You can buy most items you might want or need at the local market or Wal-Mart in Xela.
- Bring a warm sweatshirt and a rain jacket. It gets chilly in Xela at night and when it rains.
- You may want to bring one nicer outfit just in case you're invited to a wedding, funeral, church service, etc.
- Shower shoes/sandals may or may not be important to you.
- Many people choose to bring laptops, netbooks, tablets, etc. They can be nice to have but please be aware that they may be damaged or stolen.
- Pack good walking/hiking shoes for any hiking you might do (they're nice for walking around town too!)
SHOULD I GET A CELL PHONE THERE OR BRING ONE WITH ME?
Some people find having a cell phone a nice comfort while they travel and stay in Xela. You can bring an unlocked phone from your home country and buy a SIM card when you arrive We are pretty good at getting in touch with people who don't have a cell phone if you opt to skip the phone.
HOW DO I MAKE A RESERVATION?
It couldn't be simpler. Go to the Contact Us page, and simply state when you think you will be arriving, how many hours a week you want to study, and if you'd like to participate in a homestay experience. We fully understand that you might not know the exact details of your trip at this time, but we still encourage you to get in touch. As soon as you arrive in Xela, come to our school and we can go through the paperwork with you to officially sign you up. We will email you around 5 days before your specified arrival date to confirm all details. Remember, unlike most Spanish Schools in Xela, we do not charge you any sort of 'Administration Charge' for booking in advance.