F.A.Q. + Portal

How can I help Buenas Cosas right now?
Use the Buenas Cosas Social bit at the bottom of this page, any page. Tweet, Friend, post a buenas cosas flyer at your local coffee hangout/university or make a donation… and thanks for the love :)


Do you have English-speaking guides?


What’s the weather like in Peten Guatemala?
Weird. Completely unpredictable the 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 Chat/Email/Skype?
Sure. Anytime you like – contact us.


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 works good for most people. Take the overnight bus and get off the bus at the Santa Elena bus terminal in the early AM. Don’t get off the bus in Flores – you’re not going to 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’ Guatemala 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, 8 blocks on the left, the ‘Tortilleria’. In Spanish: primer derecha, ocho cuadras, ala izquierdo, la tortilleria. Click here for airport, bus, driving, flight, shuttle information.


Are there any Traveler or Volunteer SignUp restrictions?
If you’re 18 years or more, or with a guardian/parent, and you’ve read this entire FAQ… SignUp


What do I wear?
You can wear anything you like in Guatemala. Thongs are probably not a good idea – waaay too much attention from the locals, and not in a good way. Dress for humid / warm weather and you’ll be good.

Lighter colors are best as they do not encourage mosquitoes.

It can get cold in the winter, it even snows here – usually once a year. It’s not extreme cold – a light jacket or sweater should be enough.

It does rain. It can rain lots and lots. Be sure and bring something so you can be outside in the rain. A light, stuffs down to nothing, rain-jacket is all you need. You can buy all sorts of handwoven grass hats here in Guatemala, they work really well and only cost a few dollars. You can also grab a cheap umbrella in the market for a few dollars – good for the sun too :)

Shoes – most people live in sandals and flipflops (janklettas). We like Teva’s – any sort of hiking sandal. Also bring some good shoes that cover your feet – to get through the thick brush in the jungle. Light cross-training or trail-running shoes are a good idea. Bear in mind, there can be lots of rain here, thus lots of mud. If you’re susceptible to skin infections on your feet, best to keep you socks and shoes on all the time. Everything is fertile in Guatemala and jamming mud in your feet is a perfect growth method foot fungus and it’s very hard to get kill. Wash your feet with a diluted bleach+water solution each night before bed and you should be good. Yes, there’s bleach available in Guatemala and it’s cheap. You can also purchase very cheap jungle boots (high-top rubber boots) for a few dollars – any shoes size 44 or larger are nearly impossible to find in this part of Gautemala.

Some participants are concerned about dressing contrary to local customs and traditions – not much need for that. Guatemalans are very accepting and tolerant of just about everything – as a rule, they don’t judge. If you have evil-looking tatts you might want to keep those covered. Once we had a guy here with a scarecrow on a cross, huge, on his bicep – really freaked the locals – they felt is was disrespectful of Jesus. All that was requested was that he cover the tattoo and the issue was resolved. As an aside, never offend Christianity or say anything in it’s disregard – but we’ll cover that and lots more in your Orientation when you arrive.


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. It’s easy. Share your arrival date/time, carrier and we’ll take care of the rest.


Can I contribute to more than one Volunteer Project?
Yes – many opt for one volunteer project in the morning and another in the afternoon.


Do I need to speak Spanish to participate with Buenas Cosas?
Nope – not at all. But you must be willing to try and speak Spanish. Peteneros (the people of Peten) are really nice to anyone who makes an effort to speak Spanish. All our Traveler and Volunteer participants receive our Spanish Survival Workshop and 6 page Spanish Survival Workbook. Apply yourself to studying your Spanish and you should have all the Spanish you need in a day or 3.


Can I arrive without donating an online Reservation Donation?
Yes. However, you’re taking a chance we won’t have capacity for your participation. You could be turned away. We’re not a hotel/hostel with over-built commercial capacity. As well, anyone arriving without a Reservation Donation will donate an additional 200Q on arrival. Best to make your Reservation Donation, save some cash and save your spot :)


As a traveler or volunteer, should I drink the water in Guatemala?
Don’t brush your teeth with the tap water in Guatemala -don’t drink it either. Purified water available for all our Travelers and Volunteers – 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+silver water filters (looks like a clay pot set in the top of a paint bucket). These 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?
Buenas Cosas site is in English because the vast majority of our prospective Travelers and Volunteers know English, not Spanish or any other language. That said, if you would like to use our site in another language Google Translate does a reasonably good job…

Translate Now

In any case, as a Buenas Cosas Traveler or Volunteer know that you’ll 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. That said, don’t participate with us if you have no desire to study/learn/use Spanish. This is Guatemala and the language here is Spanish. When in Rome – yada yada yada.



What about mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes (zancudos) are everywhere – this is Guatemala. We do a very good job of keeping the blood-sucking critters in balance. Truth is the mosquitoes in Peten tend to like foreigners’ blood lots more than Peteneros’ blood. If you absolutely don’t want to get bit, use Deet or catnip tincture which is allegedly 2X better than deet and non-toxic – buy a bottle online and bring it with you – bring us a spare bottle too, please please please :)


Is short-term Buenas Cosas’ participation available?
Absolutely, in both the Traveler and Volunteer tracks. There’s a minimum of 3 nights for Travelers and 1 week for Volunteers.


Can I donate online when I arrive?
Nope – but, we’ll accept Guatemalan Quetzales.


Is the online Traveler / Volunteer Reservation Donation required?
Nope, but it’s advised. You’re welcome to show-up, donate 200Q, we’ll hand you a SignUp and go from there; answering your questions. We’ll be happy to give you a quick tour, too :)

Only a Traveler or Volunteer Reservation Donation guarantees your spot. Participation is limited. We’re not a hostel/hotel with overbuilt commercial capacity. Save some cash and save your spot – make your Reservation Donation.


Is there a limit to participants?
Yes, 18 participants at any given time – this is the norm. We’re happy to accommodate larger groups so long as you contact us at least 6 weeks in-advance. Contact us and we’ll be happy to co-create a Traveler and/or Volunteer experience that works for you and your group.


Does Buenas Cosas have capacity for my Traveler / Volunteer participation?
Make your Reservation Donation and we’ll confirm the next day. If we don’t have capacity for your desired participation dates, we’ll refund your Reservation Donation that same day. Or, contact us before you make your Reservation Donation and we’ll soft-confirm availability for your desired participation dates. Whatever works best for you :)


May I visit Buenas Cosas?
Absolutely. Questions and answers are best handled prior to arrival contact us. Or stop by anytime, donate 200Q per person and we’ll answer questions, discuss anything you like, show you around and give you a tour of a Partner Community – if you like.


Arrival/departure date changes, cancellations and transfers?
We strongly recommend everyone reserve availability for their traveler or volunteer participation well in-advance. 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 an additional $15 and extend your participation dates for a second year. Or, donate $15 extra and transfer your reservation to a friend. No refunds.

Checkout for both Travelers and Volunteers is 12Noon. Late checkout is fine so long as you donate an additional $5/40Q per person.


What sort of Traveler / Volunteer experience can I expect?
This question is easily answered with our traveler and volunteer video testimonials. Review the Buenas Cosas Blog. Please make an informed decision. Use this site and educate yourself about Buenas Cosas before making your Reservation Donation. We’re always happy to answer your questions contact us :)


Volunteers – 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 decide to volunteer with Buenas Cosas. With your commitment and our volunteer support, we’ll do all we can to help you create the Guatemalan volunteer experience you want.


I want to volunteer and receive a FREE place to sleep and FREE meals in exchange for my hard work, OK?
Nope. We don’t offer FREE volunteer participation and this is why.


Smoke anytime you like. Don’t smoke inside our community members’ homes. Relax – it’s 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 – not a good thing :)


What’s the timing of Traveler and Volunteer donations?
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 strongly encourage you make a Reservation Donation and save your spot right now.

If you intend on participating more than 2 nights as a Traveler or more than 1 week as a Volunteer, we’ll need balance of your Traveler/Volunteer donation within 3 weeks of your initial Reservation Donation or 3 weeks prior to your scheduled arrival date –  whichever comes first. If your pending Traveler or Volunteer donation is not received, your previously reserved capacity will go back to inventory so we can make it available to other Travelers and Volunteers. We must maintain Traveler and Volunteer capacity levels so we can best serve our Partner Communities.

If you found us at the last minute, message and we’ll do all we can for you :)


What’s the timing of Ecotour and Volunteer Project donations?

All multi-day ecotour donations are due not less than 2 weeks prior to your arrival. All half-day and full-day ecotour donations are due not less than one-week prior to your arrival.

Good Homes volunteer project donation is due not less than 2 weeks prior to your arrival and a minimum $1,500 deposit donation is due no less than 6 weeks prior to your arrival. All other volunteer project donations are due at arrival or in-advance online, whatever works best for you.

If you found us at the last minute, message and we’ll do all we can for you :)


Are there discounts for extended participation or groups?
Yes. Once you’ve complete 9 days of traveler and/or 9 weeks of volunteer participation, we’re happy to offer a generous discount. We won’t discuss available extended participation discounts until your initial 9 days or 9 weeks has been earned. We don’t offer group discounts.


Are daily Traveler / Volunteer donations due while on multi-day ecotours?
Nope and we’re happy to store your extra gear while you’re enjoying your adventure – no worries.


Upgrade, downgrade, refund?
Upgrade your Traveler or Volunteer participation anytime you like by paying the difference due, pending available capacity. Downgrades available at renewal. No pro-rating. No Refunds.


Are you closed on Sunday?
Yes and No. There are no formal meals at our compound or homestays on Sundays. No worries, 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. Sunday is always a good day to walk around, gossip with the locals and sample the different Guatemala foods offered within our Partner Communities. Not uncommon at all that on Sundays families in need of a little extra money will offer meals on tables setup in front of their homes – that’s community :)


Can I volunteer more than 4 hours per day?
Yes – most volunteers contribute more than 4 hours per day – or you can just sit in a hammock if that’s your choice – it’s all good. Travelers, same thing applies. We’ve seen it time and time again, the more you interact and volunteer in our Partner Community, the better your experience – much better :)


Is scheduling flexible for activities, adventures, ecotours, 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 Travelers and Volunteers are expected to happily abide by the Directiva’s decisions and guidance.


Can I store gear with Buenas Cosas?
Yes. As a Traveler or Volunteer with Buenas Cosas, store your gear with us. So there are no misunderstandings, we assume no responsibility for the security of anything you may choose to store with us.


Want to know a certain something about Buenas Cosas. How?
Use the Search at the bottom-left of every page at this site. We have an archive of nearly 2,000 pages at this site and odds are quite good you’ll find what you’re looking for – search is a good thing :)


I’m a perfectionist and want to participate – OK?
Nope. Buenas Cosas is a grass-roots, nonprofit, third-world, development organization. This is not a good place for anything even vaguely related to perfection. Buenas Cosas is still very much a work-in-progress.


What’s availability of your Traveler / Volunteer offerings?
Nothing is guaranteed. This is Guatemala, Buenas Cosas is a grass-roots, nonprofit, third-world social development organization 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 simply can’t guarantee availability of anything, in any way, at any time, to anyone.


Is there a minimum commitment for Travelers / Volunteers?
Yes. 3 nights for Travelers and 1 week for Volunteers. We strongly encourage longer traveler / volunteer participation. The longer you stay, the more likely you’ll have a life-changing experience. We see it all the time, the happy tears, warm hugs and happy+sad goodbyes. Travelers and Volunteers who can’t fulfill the related minimums are welcome to leave early, whatever works best for you.


What’s up with the Volunteer Project Donation?
That is what we’ll need from you for your volunteer participation in your chosen volunteer project/s. As a Volunteer, donate to a volunteer project and it’s yours for up to one month, except Good Homes which can extend up to two or three months depending on the number of participants and the weather. Of course, Traveler and Volunteers are welcome to participate in any of free volunteer projects. Whatever works best for you – it’s all good.


Can I collect media during my traveler / volunteer participation?
Yes – so long as you supply us with copies of all media collected during your stay, for us to use as, when and where we please.


Can I take photos during my participation?
Absolutely and at any level of traveler or volunteer participation. Take your personal photos, share them with us before you leave and we’re good. All we request is your discretion – don’t turn your participation into a Media Circus. Don’t let your photos/media get in the way of your experience, the experience of our other participants or interfere in the daily lives of our community members.


What are Buenas Cosas’ sources / uses of funds?
15% of funds are used for administrative overhead. Buenas Cosas believes in full financial disclosure. To that end, we provide financial information that is updated annually so you know what’s going on. For more information visit sources and uses of funds. If you want more details, participate as a Maximo Volunteer.


I need 24/7 Internet access. What can you do for me?
You’re welcome to use a shared-laptop with Internet which is available from 4-6PM every day except Sunday. Or, bring your own Internet device and buy a USB modem at arrival. Modems generally run ~$20US and usually include a day or 3 of service of bandwidth. Connection fees are based on a combination of bandwidth and subscription, starting at ~$25US monthly.


What about accommodations?
This is the third-world. Buenas Cosas is REAL participation in REAL Guatemalan communities. We place traveler participants at Community Member B&Bs Bed and Breakfast and private ‘Casas’ – by first-world standards, these accommodations are more than adequate. We also do homestays. Homestays are basic accommodations. However, homestays offer a cultural exchange and Guatemalan / Spanish immersion experience that’s tremendously positive and well worth the small inconveniences – that’s what our travelers and volunteers say too. Homestays: if you want hot water, you’ll boil it. Most HomeStay Community Partners live in simple homes and sleep on futons or in hammocks, a simple curtain separating their ‘rooms’. If you can’t live without 24/7/365 Internet, electricity and/or running water – homestays aren’t for you. That said, without some time with a Guatemalan family you’ll miss one of the best things about immersing yourself in the Petenero culture, the wonderful people of Peten Guatemala.


Can I stay in a somewhere else other than with Buenas Cosas?
You’ll need to be a Traveler or Volunteer and staying with us to access all the good things at Buenas Cosas.


What about malaria and malaria medications?
Most of those who takes malaria meds get sick. We had one volunteer who became so toxic from her malaria meds she had to fly home two weeks early. We have known many Peace Corp volunteers, who are required to take them, and instead opt to flush them down the toilet – because they don’t like getting sick. We know of not one case of Malaria in our Partner Communities, nor anywhere else in Peten. Malaria in Guatemala is mostly in Rio Dulce and that’s way, way, far away from where we are here in Peten. All that said, we will follow with the typical disclaimer… none of the proceeding should be considered medical advice – consult your physician.


Can’t afford the Volunteer Project donation – want to volunteer – what can I do?
We only guarantee a specific volunteer project if you support it with your donation. Or, choose one of our 3 free Volunteer Programs. Or, we can simply place where you’re needed most. It’s all good :)

Our participants are increasingly using crowdfunding sites to finance their Buenas Cosas traveler and/or volunteer participation. There are many crowdfunding sites – more than a dozen at our last count. Pick one you like and go for it! If there’s anything we can do to assist with your crowdfunding campaign, contact us.


What is the Maya dorm and Maya kitchen?
We have two Maya dorms; one with hand-woven Maya hammocks and another with separate beds. The Maya kitchen is for cooking whatever you like and whenever you like. Quite often our Travelers and Volunteers will all contribute and cook and big meal for themselves on Sundays. Includes pots, pans, plates, utensils. You’ll buy whatever you need in the way of food or fuel. All Buenas Cosas Travelers and Volunteers have access to our Maya kitchen. We had a French pastry chef come through here a few weeks ago and he created some awesome meals – all made in our Maya kitchen. If our Maya kitchen is good enough for a French pastry chef, it’s good enough for anyone! :)


Will Buenas Cosas be paying for my firewood, cooking gas, toilet paper, purified water, shampoo or my dry-cleaning during my stay?
Nope – none of the above – we’re a small organization.


I’m Vegan/Veggie/RawFood, OK?
We’re happy to meet your needs – see our offerings.


What’s the Buenas Cosas Portal?
You’ll receive credentials to the Buenas Cosas Portal the day after we receive your Reservation Donation. The Buenas Cosas Portal is where we’ll post your SignUp and photo of your smiling face. We use the Buenas Cosas Portal for all sorts of good things: managing tasks, projects, communication and more.


Login to the Buenas Cosas Portal

The good people at teamwork.com support us with our efforts here in Guatemala. Thank you Teamwork – by far one of the best project management solutions we’ve ever used. If you would like to take a look at how we work. Contact us and request a Portal Demo Account.

Traveler or Volunteer - which works best for you?

Testimonials from Travelers and Volunteers