Tools / See also Transportation
/ Stomach Ailments
/ Safety in Xela (Quetzaltenango)
Your first day in Guatemala
Bring a change of clothes and valuables in your carry on bag. Put money
and passport in money belt or neck wallet. Guatemala City, like most capital
cities in the world, has pocket pickers - Do not turn your back on luggage,
and try not to sit near doors where people may grab and run.
Do not put toilet paper in the toilet as the plumbing cannot accept it.
To avoid amoebas or stomach infections, do not drink the tap water, do
not eat salads in restaurants and do not eat food sold in the street.
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. For more information on vaccinations, visit this web
BASIC tool - information changes and businesses move, please do not rely
on this information whole heartedly.
Costs of living
We like to say it would cost you about $125-250 to live in Xela for one
month. This cost includes something for travelling, food, touring, a room
at an inexpensive hotel, gas for stove, electricity, and other costs.
It helps if you know Spanish, and it helps if you know where to find the
things you need. Your first two months will be higher cost than the rest
as you get used to how business is done, and establish contacts and build
Find housing in Xela (Quetzaltenango) / Top
For living here on your own we suggest you by-pass all the hub-bub about
living with a family. They live very strict schedules and cannot make
many exceptions or changes for your schedule if you would wish to travel,
stay out late, work during the day, work during some days and not others,
or otherwise lead an unpredictable lifestyle. It is best to buy a guidebook
like the one made by "Lonely Planet" or other company, and book
reservations at one of the local cheap hotels here. (We suggest Casa Argentina
as a start) Book your rooms one week at a time so that you may move quickly
if you find it not to your liking. You can use your time in the hotels
to find open rooms elsewhere in the city, sometimes for as low as $60
per month. This requires walking around and reading signs posted in front
of businesses, and being able to inquire in Spanish all the details. Pack
light on clothes as there are a thousand opportunities to by thrift store
clothing from the States, or other locally made clothing.
Changing Money in Xela / Top
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. Also, you can change money
in the office at the school for slightly lower rate and the difference
goes toward the school's social projects.
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). If
you only have a Mastercard or Visa CREDIT card, you can go to the Credomatic
office in the mall in Zone 3 named Mont Blanc, or try your luck with the
Central Park ATMs. Other credit companies are spotty here, but banks are
capable to exchange, best to start with the banks in the Central Park.
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.