Nuevo San José, Guatemala
The Spanish school
This school is part of the school in Quetzaltenango and situated in a rural area about 50 kilometres outside of Quetzaltenango. The school has a strong social relationship with the small hamlet, Nuevo San José. Here you will have four hours of Spanish lessons per day. The lessons are given under palm leave roofs in the garden in the morning or afternoon. The accommodation is in a shared room at the school. The atmosphere is quiet and cosy; there are many activities organized for the kids from the village in which you can participate. It is a real experience to witness life in a small mountain town and become part of it. The electricity is prone to failure in this village so make sure to bring your flash light.
It is a requisite to start with classes in Quetzaltenango, at least 1 week, before following Spanish classes in Nuevo San José. There is a limit on the amount of students per school so make sure you book in advance!
The host family
You are provided with three meals a day in the house of a local family in the village. These families are trained in hygiene and the preparation of simple but healthy meals. Cooking is done in a primitive way and you get freshly baked tortillas with every meal. With the income the families receive for these meals, a family can enjoy proper meals themselves so the students are an important source of income. The women do not have to work in the coffee plantations and have more time to spend with their children. Nuevo San José has a small elementary school.
How to get to Nuevo San José
You take the bus from Quetzaltenango to Nuevo San José; the ride takes less then an hour and a half. You will receive extensive travel information from the school in Quetzaltenango before travelling.
|Guatamala||Classes||hpd||1 wk||2 wks||3 wks||4 wks||extra week||extra night||transfer|
|Nuevo San José||private||4||$ 255||$ 445||$ 660||$ 850||$ 205||$ 10||$ 55|
COUNTRY INFO: GUATEMALA
Guatemala is one of the most authentic countries of Latin America. There is a very high percentage of Indians in its population. Catholicism has been mixed with pagan rituals, like the use of sacrifices. The Guatemalan culture is in many ways very colourful and the Mayas still cling to their ancient traditions. It seems as if time has stood still here in certain places.
Guatemala is a country of contrasts; the Latinos have a modern western lifestyle, whilst most of the Mayas still live pretty much like their ancestors lived hundreds of years ago. They still wear their traditional clothing, brightly coloured hand-woven costumes, both in everyday life and on religious occasions like the many processions that are held here.
The landscape of Guatemala is beautiful and very diverse: there is jungle, rough mountains, hill forests, rain forests and high altitude lakes that are surrounded by volcanoes. Antigua, Panajachel at Lake Atitlán, the market of Chichicastenango and the old Mayan city of Tikal in the middle of the jungle are the main tourist attractions of Guatemala. These places are easy to travel to yourself or you can book organised tours from Antigua or Quetzaltenango. Guatemala City is worth a short visit but not really a must and most certainly a city where you will need to watch your belongings at busy bus stations or on public transport.
Guatemala is known as the country of eternal spring because of its mild climate.
- Climbing volcanoes.
- Mountain biking.
- Horseback riding.
- Sailing on the Rio Dulce or Lago de Atitlán.
- Visit Livingston: a Caribbean coastal town with African influence.
- Diving in Lago de Atitlán at ATI-divers in Santa Cruz la Laguna.
- River rafting.
- Bird watching.
- Weaving classes.
- Salsa dance courses.
- Visit the highlights of Guatemala: Antigua, Lago de Atitlán, Chichicastenango, Todos los Santos de Chuchumantanes and Tikal.
- Visit less known but there for more traditional Indian villages.
- An abundance of voluntary work in any field!
- Transport: collective bus ('chicken bus') or minibus/shuttle for tourists on routes between highlights.
Quetzaltenango is the second largest city in Guatemala and is called Xela by the locals. This is also what it says on the busses, so don't bother looking for Quetzaltenango at the bus station. Xela has over 125.000 inhabitants and is 200 kilometres away from the capital. It is located in a big, green valley at an altitude of 2.334 meters. Because of this height, it can get really chilly at night, but it usually has gorgeous blue skies and a nice temperature during the day. You will not find many tourists here, which is why it is a perfect place to seriously study Spanish and partake in the everyday life of Guatemalans.
Although Quetzaltenango is a big city, there is almost no industry; agriculture and commerce are the main sources of income. It is not an especially pretty city, there are only a few buildings worth visiting, but this means few tourists and thus enables you to get a feel for the 'real' Guatemala. Walking around you feel like you're in a large village, as there are almost no high rises and little traffic. In the vicinity of Quetzaltenango, there are many quaint little villages that are worth visiting. It is really easy to take a bus and walk around one of these places, especially on days when there are festivities or markets.
- Voluntary work (there are lots of projects where you work with the local Quiché Mayan Indians).
- Weaving classes.
- Visit (walking) the natural warm water hot springs at Los Vahos of Almolonga (3,5 km outside Quetzaltenango).
- Visit the town of Todos Los Santos Chuchumantanes especially on All Saints day (1st of November).
- Visit on foot or by bus Indian villages around Xela: Zunil: a picturesque agricultural village (10 km of Quetzaltenango), the market of Friday of San Francisco El Alto (17 km of Quetzaltenango).
- Weekend tour: climbing the highest volcano of Central America: the Tajumulco 4220m.
NUEVO SAN JOSÉ
At a travelling distance of an hour and a half lies the little school in Nuevo San José. This village is situated in a beautiful mountainous surrounding at a height a little bit lower then Xela which also means the temperature is a bit higher. The locals are very involved in the school and here you have the opportunity to get to know the simple country life of Guatemala. There is a coffee plantation and a chicken farm for eggs. The school can lodge ten students at the same time.
Activities Nuevo San José
- Helping in the ecological garden with the cultivation of vegetables and fruits and the picking of coffee beans.
- Organize creative activities for the children of the village.
- Help with the care for the chicken and picking eggs.
- Walks in the surroundings.
Read and relax a lot!
Many students over the last years have used the possibility to combine Spanish lessons in Guatemala with lessons in Mexico. You can book an open-jaw flight; you fly into Guatemala City and out of Mexico City or vice versa. We recommend you make the journey from Guatemala to Mexico by bus but if you want to combine Guatemala with Costa Rica or Panama you are better of flying .
Make sure to check the dates of local fiestas when making your travel plans. We highly recommend you to experience being present at any of the local fiestas. Every town has its own year fiesta. The fiestas, often with a religious background, consist of hours or even days of dancing by the male population. They dress in traditional costumes and wear masks which depict a certain historic event.
In the week before Easter there are numerous processions in Antigua for example. The streets are dressed up with flower petals, laid out in beautiful motives like paintings. An absolute must do!
|Antiqua||Annual feast||25 July|
|--||Eastern||(2007) 5-6 April|
|--||Independence Day||15 September|
|Panajachel||Annual feast||4 October|
|Chichicastenango||Annual feast||21 December|
|Sololá||Annual feast||15 August|
|San Lucas Tolimán||Annual feast||18 October|
|San Marcos la Laguna||Annual feast||25 April|
|San Pablo la Laguna||Annual feast||25 January|
|San Pablo la Laguna||Annual feast||29 June|
|Santiago Atitlán||Annual feast||25 July|
|Quetzaltenango||Annual feast||15 September|
|Todos Los Santos||All Saints' Day||1 November|
|Annual feast||1 November|
|Flores||Annual feast||15 January|
Guatemala only has a rainy and a dry season. In Antigua and Quetzaltenango the rainy season lasts from June until October, the dry season from October till June. In rainy season the rains are heavy but usually short and mainly in the afternoons. Right after the sky turns blue again. The average day temperature is around 21ºC in the high lands, at night it cools down considerably. At the coast it's 30ºC during the day.
Come with Adiós Travel to learn Spanish in Nuevo San José, Guatemala.