F.A.Q. and myBC
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the weather like in Peten Guatemala?
Weird. Completely unpredictable. Weather in Peten Guatemala.
Are the Buenas Cosas Partner Communities safe?
Yes. Anyone telling you any differently is either ignorant of the truth or has a serious conflict-of-interest. Our Partner Communities are full of happy kids and hard-working, church-going Guatemalans.
Can we Skype?
Sure. Anytime you like. Here’s our Skype or message and we’ll be right with you.
Yes. Call anytime you like. The phone will be answered in Spanish. Phone service in Guatemala is stupid expensive and QOS is horrid. Always best to message Buenas Cosas with the form right here.
How do I get to Buenas Cosas in Peten Guatemala?
Cheapest, safest, most eco-happy way from Guatemala City to Peten is ADN Premier Class: nice comfy seats and more. No need to buy tickets in-advance, purchase when you get to Guatemala and save a few bucks. Take the overnight bus and get off the bus at the Santa Elena bus terminal in the early AM. Do not get off the bus in Flores. Walk out of the Santa Elena terminal and direct to the street, wave at any Red three-wheeled tuktuk and they’ll stop. Ask the ‘Chauffeur’ to take you to ‘barrio Bellos Horizontes’ (~15Q per person with bags) once you get to Barrio Bellos Horizontes, tell your driver to take the first right, 6 blocks on the right, the walled house. In Spanish: primer derecha, seis cuadras, ala derecha, la casa murallada. Click here for more bus/driving/shuttle directions.
When will my Voluntourism Application be accepted?
So long as you’re 18 years or more, you’re accepted. The ‘application’ is used to collect your data and assist with volunteer administration.
Can Someone meet me at the airport / bus station?
Absolutely. Include an extra $10US with your reservation donation and we’ll meet you at the airport or bus station in Santa Elena. It’s easy, share your arrival date/time, carrier and we’ll take care of the rest.
Participate with Buenas Cosas or commercial consumption?
Buenas Cosas is for eco-travelers seeking an authentic Guatemalan experience. Buenas Cosas is for travelers who want to know the real culture and people of Guatemala. Buenas Cosas is for people who want more than private shuttle buses, gringo tours and restaurant food. Are you tired of hostels/hotels and the ongoing ticket/tour sales pitch? Try us for a day or three – you’ll probably want more – most do. Participate in a real Guatemalan travel experience and support real Guatemalans in real Guatemalan communities.
Can I participate in more than one volunteer project?
Yes. Many voluntourism participants opt for one volunteer project in the morning and another in the afternoon – or, change projects once every two weeks. That said, only Grande and Maximo voluntourism participants choose their volunteer projects, Poco voluntourism participants are assigned where they are most needed/useful.
Do I need to speak Spanish to participate with Buenas Cosas?
Nope – not at all. But you must possess the willingness to try and use a little Spanish. Peteneros (the people of Peten) are really nice to anyone who makes any sort of effort to speak Spanish.
Can I arrive without donating in-advance online?
Yes, but you’re taking a chance we won’t have capacity for your participation when you arrive – you could be turned away. We’re not a hostel/hotel with tremendous commercial capacity.
Must the application, photo of my smiling face and 1st 2 weeks Participation Donation be posted within 3 days of posting my $15US Base Donation?
In order to guarantee we will have capacity for your participation, Yes. Your 1st 2 weeks Participation Donation can only be made online and in-advance (in order to guarantee/save your spot) through a transfer to our bank account or posting a donation to our Payoneer account; Fiverr/Indiegogo/ect are not acceptable for this donation.
Should I drink the water?
Nope. Don’t drink or brush your teeth with the tap water in Guatemala. We have purified water available at all our Volunteer Centers and with all our homestay families. No worries.
Grapeseed Extract and/or CoQ10 will kill just about any bug you might get – bring some. Lots of people in Peten use efficient, low-cost ceramic/clay water filters (it looks like a clay pot set in the top of a paint bucket). The filters work great. Don’t hesitate to drink water filtered through these contraptions – they work!
How can I expect immersion when this entire site is in English?
This site is in English because the vast majority of our potential participants speak and read English, not Spanish. You will be entirely immersed in Spanish to any level you want. If you want a fully-immersed Spanish-only experience, that’s exactly what you’ll get.
What about the mosquitoes!
Mosquitoes (zancudos) are everywhere – this is Guatemala. We do a very good job of keeping the blood-sucking critters in balance. Sad fact, they like tourist blood lots more than Petenero blood. If you don’t want to get bit, use deet. Catnip tincture is allegedly 2X better and non-toxic – buy a bottle online and try it.
Can I donate online when I arrive?
Nope – but, we’ll accept Guatemalan Quetzales.
Is the online donation/reservation required?
Nope, but it’s advised. You’re welcome to show-up, donate 120Q, we’ll hand you an application and go from there. Only an online donation/reservation guarantees your participation availability. Reserved online or walk-in, all participants donate 120Q/$15US.
Without a reservation, you risk arriving without capacity for your participation – you could be turned away. Participation is limited. We’re not a hostel/hotel with tremendously overbuilt/wasteful commercial capacity.
I want to visit, be given a tour and ask questions – OK?
Questions/Answers prior to arrival, online/email — yes, of course! Send us a message. Once you’ve arrived, your 120Q/$15US donation completed, we’ll be happy to tour, talk and visit with you further.
Arrival/departure date changes, cancellations and transfers?
We strongly recommend everyone reserve availability for their participation. You’ll need to arrive on your reserved date or contact us no less than one week prior to your arrival and reschedule. So long as you contact no less than one week prior to scheduled arrival date, you’re welcome to reschedule for any time within one year of your original reservation date. Or, donate $15 extra and transfer your reservation to a friend. No refunds.
What sort of voluntourism experience can I expect?
Buenas Cosas started November 2011. We’re new and doing lots of creating. To that end, make certain you reviewed our site. Understand all that we have done, are doing and have yet to accomplish. Review the Buenas Cosas Blog. Make an informed decision.
Buenas Cosas is Guerrilla Social Development. If you’re seeking an absorbing-information, passive volunteer experience, we’re not a good fit. On the other hand, if you’re a self-driven, pro-active creator of good things, we don’t care if you’re experienced or not, we hope you’ll decide to participate with Buenas Cosas. With your commitment and our support, we’ll do all we can to help you create the Guatemalan voluntourist experience you want.
Why no pricing on any of your Ecotourism opportunities?
No need – it’s all inexpensive and far less than you’ll pay with any commercial, not-green, travel/tour agency. People participate with us because we are the first and only 100% Guatemalan, non-profit ecotourism provider in Peten. We do good things – not greed.
Compensation of Guatemalan workers
All long-term, local workers are paid at least the average Guatemalan wage +25%. If that doesn’t work for you don’t participate with us.
Smoke anytime you like. Don’t smoke inside our community centers or our community members’ homes. It is not taboo to smoke in front of children in Guatemala. In any case, don’t hide your smoking or people will think you’re smoking crack.
What’s the timing of donations and participation?
Donations are made in-advance online or at arrival in cash with Guatemalan Quetzales.
We do all we can to make your participation with Buenas Cosas flexible, convenient and affordable. However, we do have limited capacity. To that end, we encourage everyone make an online donation reservation and lock-in your participation availability.
Poco/Grande/Maximo participants – once your $15US Base Donation has been posted, submit your application within 3 business days and post your 1st 2 weeks participation to our bank account or Payoneer account; other donation options are not accepted. Use xe.com for currency conversions.
Do you offer discounted pricing for extended participation?
Yes. While pricing for your 1st 2weeks is clearly stated on the participation application, we do offer discounts at weeks 3-5 and further discounts at week 6+. See the participation application.
Is participation paid while on the El Mirador Trek?
Nope. But, consider dropping a few extra Quetzales in the Love Box and help us with the good things we’re doing here in Guatemala.
Upgrade, downgrade, refund?
Upgrade your participation anytime you like by paying the difference due, pending available capacity. Downgrades available at renewal, pending available capacity. No refunds.
Are you closed on Sunday?
Yes and No. There is no FREE Internet at our Community Centers on Sundays. No meals are provided at our Community Centers or homestays on Sunday. No worries though, you’ll find all you need at local eateries/shops/Internet cafes in our Partner Communities. This gives you a chance to get out and meet new Guatemalan friends in your Partner Community.
Can I volunteer more than 4 hours per day?
Absolutely – most do. The reality is, and we’ve seen this time and time again, the more you participate – the better your experience.
Is the daily schedule flexible for activities, volunteering… etc?
Absolutely. Nothing is written in stone. Some participants are better in the morning, others better in the afternoon. And, the Guatemalan weather necessitates flexibility with respect to everything we do, every day. Once you arrive, we’ll work with you to create a schedule that works best for you. However, in the end, the Directiva of Buenas Cosas is in-charge and participants are expected to happily abide by its decisions/guidance.
Can I store gear with Buenas Cosas?
Yes. As a Buenas Cosas participant you may store your gear with us. We’ve never had any security issues. But we assume no responsibility for the security of anything you may choose to store.
I’m a perfectionist and want to participate – OK?
Nope. Buenas Cosas is a grass-roots, non-profit, third-world, development organization – not a good place for perfectionists.
What’s availability for your offerings/opportunities?
Nothing is guaranteed. This is Guatemala, Buenas Cosas is a grass-roots, non-profit, third-world development project and we face ongoing challenges: funding, labor strikes, materials availability, politics, regulations, seasons/weather, teacher strikes, transport strikes, holidays/vacations and acts of God. We can’t guarantee availability of anything, in any way, at any time, to anyone.
Can I collect media during participation?
Yes and no. Buenas Cosas serves communities and nature and is not here as free-fodder for documentaries, portfolios, slideshows or whatever. If you intend to participate in order to collect media, you must participate at the Grande level and obtain permission from the Directiva in-advance.
What are Buenas Cosas’ sources/uses of funds?
Less than 15% of funds are used for administrative/overhead. As income grows, the percentage of administrative/overhead expenses will decrease even further. Buenas Cosas believes in full financial disclosure. To that end, we provide updated annual financial documents so you know what’s going on with your/our money. For more information visit sources and uses of funds.
I need 24/7 Internet access. What can you do for me?
Bring your own device and buy a USB modem at arrival. Modems generally run ~$15US. Connection fees are based on a combination of bandwidth and subscription, starting at ~$15US monthly.
What about accommodations?
This is the third-world. Buenas Cosas is REAL participation in REAL Guatemalan communities. If you want hot water, you’ll boil it. Most people in our Partner Communities live in homes with dirt floors and sleep on futons, a simple curtain separating their ‘rooms’. Electricity, Internet and/or running water are not available 24/7/365.
Grande/Maximo participants get an actual private room, fan and more. If you’re looking for an ‘all-inclusive vacation resort’, Buenas Cosas is not a good fit for you. On the other hand, if you want to participate with a REAL grassroots, non-profit and are not afraid to tackle real-world, in-the-trenches, social development programs/projects, we look forward to hearing from you.
What’s Reservation Availability? Waiting List?
Once we reach GREEN on Reservation Availability, we only accept Waiting List reservations. If your desired participation time-frame is GREEN, donate $15, submit your Reservation Form, we’ll put you on the Waiting List and the moment additional capacity is available for your desired time-frame, it’s yours.
This is our volunteer portal. You’ll be issued credentials to myBC within 1 business day of receiving your $15 Base Donation for your reserved participation in our Voluntourism track. myBC is where you’ll be posting your application and a photo of your smiling face. We use myBC for all sorts of good things: managing tasks, projects, communication and lots more… Login to myBC