ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS
Volunteers are accommodated alongside other IVHQ volunteers in either a homestay with a local family or a dormitory-style volunteer house. Living is comfortable in both the volunteer house and homestays and all accommodation has electricity, running water and western bathrooms. Bedrooms are comprised of single beds and bunk beds with bedding provided. You can expect to share a room with two or three other volunteers, but in some homestays volunteers will have their own rooms.
Volunteers in Guatemala are served three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) in their homestays. Breakfasts typically consist of bread and fruit, along with coffee. Most volunteers have lunch at their homestay as this is considered the main meal of the day, consisting of filling dishes, including stews, rice, beans and tamales (seasoned meat and maize flour steamed or baked in maize husks). For dinner, a lighter meal, such as chicken and salad will often be served. If you wish to eat out, there are a large number of restaurants in Antigua to suit all tastes and budgets. If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you.
Orientation is taken by our Guatemalan team at our offices in Antigua. Orientation begins on Monday morning and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Guatemala – Introduction to Guatemala, Guatemalan Customs, Language Training Details, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities in Guatemala, Introduction to your Project and Placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing. Once your orientation is complete, you will be transported to your home-stay or volunteer house and introduced to the relevant hosts.
First Day: On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.
Weekdays: Volunteers will have a morning or afternoon shift, which will last around 2 to 4 hours. A typical afternoon schedule is as follows:
12.00 PM - Lunch with the host family
1.00 PM - Volunteer leaves home and travels to the project. The volunteer joins with the local staff. You will be given a duty roster and a plan for your work. Work and hours is dependent on the project and location that the volunteer is participating on.
4.00 PM - Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel home, go sight seeing or do some shopping.
7.00 PM - Dinner with the host family.
Please note, this schedule can vary as projects take place in either the morning or evening. If a volunteer is taking Spanish language lessons, he/she will usually volunteer for half the day and spend the other half (3 to 4) hours taking Spanish language lessons.
During the weekends, volunteers have spare time and usually just relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of Antigua and other areas in Guatemala. Long weekends can be taken to travel further afield to destinations, such as Tikal, Belize, Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras. Sunday is a religious day of rest and most places (stores, restaurants) are closed on Sundays, as most Guatemalans devote the day to spending time with their family. If you wish, you can accompany your host family to their local church, as a Latin American church service is unique and special experience for many volunteers.
Fluency in Spanish is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Guatemala program, however on certain projects, such as Teaching and Healthcare, volunteer work will be restricted with limited language ability. We recommend that volunteers take advantage of the very affordable language lessons offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers by our partner staff in Guatemala. Past volunteers feel that taking these lessons help immensely with day-to-day volunteer work and communicating with local people. Volunteers interested in taking Spanish lessons can arrange these directly with the local staff once in Guatemala at the program orientation. The language lessons are tailored to each volunteer's current level of Spanish and classes run from Monday through to Friday. The cost is very affordable and offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers.
2-Hour Small Group Classes: US$50 per week
1-Hour Private Classes: US$50 per week
EXTRA ACTIVITIES - SURF IN EL SALVADOR
If you would like to compliment your volunteer experience in Guatemala with a 5-day/4-night trip to the coast of El Salvador for an incredible surf school experience, you can arrange this directly with our local staff once you arrive in Antigua! After spending the weekend in Antigua, you will head to El Salvador on Monday morning and arrive in time for your first one-on-one surf lesson. While staying at a local boutique hotel complete with a pool, hammocks and ocean views, you will enjoy three meals and 2 hours of personal surf instruction per day. Spend your free time on the beach, body boarding, enjoying the hotel facilities or exploring nearby caves. The local beaches have great nightlife with music and dancing! The fee is US$590 with the following inclusions:
- Transport to and from the beach in El Salvador
- 9 hours of one-on-one surf instruction
- 4 nights at a hotel
- 13 meals at the hotel dining facility (vegetarian options available)
- 3 additional nights with your host family in Antigua
EXTRA ACTIVITIES - MINI ADVENTURE IN GUATEMALA
Be sure to see all the must-see sites in Guatemala while you are in-country - the Mini Adventure combines the major hot spots in Guatemala into a one-week excursion that can be added at the beginning or end of your volunteer program. You will be accompanied by a certified, bilingual tour guide for each trip, using Antigua as your home base between tours. The 6-day program compliments your volunteer experience, without the stress of trip planning! If you would like to add a Mini Adventure to your trip, you can arrange this directly with our local staff once you are in Antigua. The cost is US$900 and includes a day hike on the active Volcano Pacaya, 3 days/2 nights in Semuc Champey with its limestone bridge and crystal blue pools, and 2 days/1 night at the mystical Tikal Pyramid Archeological Ruins (airfare to Tikal included).