The clearest difference is that Buena Onda represents a diverse network of community organizations across Guatemala. We do not have a static location. So, what does that mean? We work with the skills and talents of our volunteers, interns, and groups to match them with the projects where they can really shine. Our belief is that purposeful placement that empowers both volunteer and organization leads to positive and sustainable results. If you are unsure how you can have the most impact as a volunteer, contact us and we’ll make sure you get to the right place!
Buena Onda has a great diversity in our local partnerships. We work with community organizations across the country in many different areas. Included are education, nutrition, environment, organic agriculture, health and medicine, construction, women’s empowerment, disability rights, and indigenous rights. This is not a complete list, though. We work with organizations that are dedicated to an equitable future for all Guatemalans and they each do their part to help achieve that goal.
Our team is 100% based in Guatemala and our local knowledge and advice comes directly from our experience. We support all of our volunteers before arrival, during the time in Guatemala, and then we like to stay connected after you’re home again. We help with logistics, cultural tips, communication, on-the-ground guidance…whatever it is you need, we’re here for you! Check out our Programs to get a full description of what each entails.
Buena Onda’s coordination fee and the services included depend on the program you choose. This includes our experienced advice and support before, during, and after your time in Guatemala. Once your fee is paid, we will help you build a budget that makes sense for you and custom-design itineraries that let you immerse yourself in Guatemala’s beautiful culture while also living your travel adventure. We keep our fees low so that it is accessible for anyone that wants to come to Guatemala. We hope to hear from you!
You do not need to speak Spanish but it does improve your overall experience. Being able to communicate directly with the community allows you to immerse more fully in the culture around you and also increases the variety of volunteer opportunities available to you.
If you don’t speak Spanish or want to improve your skills, we can help! There are many volunteers who choose online classes, through Zoom or another platform, with a local Guatemalan teacher. These classes are flexible with your schedule, let you learn more about Guatemala before you arrive, and directly supports a local teacher. Also, we can help organize Spanish classes for you once you are in Guatemala. There are many options of schools or private tutors. We are ready to help you find the best options!
We have developed strong relationships with the most trusted providers around the country. We want you to enjoy and learn from every moment you are in Guatemala. That means that your health and safety is a top priority for the whole Buena Onda team! We recommend to you the transportation and accommodation that we trust for ourselves and our families.
Volunteers come to Guatemala at any time of year. There is always plenty of work to be done! Guatemala essentially has two seasons – dry and rainy. Dry season starts in November and lasts until May or June. Rainy season starts in May or June and lasts until November. Temperatures vary depending on where you are in the country.
This depends on the time you have and we will work with you to find the best volunteer project that fits your schedule. We recommend a month commitment, which gives you time to settle in to your new surroundings, get to know people and local customs, live through some culture shock, and contribute at a deeper level to your project. If you can cpend more than a month, then even better!
We do understand that a month is a long time for many, especially groups. The benefit of groups is that exponentially more work can be completed when there are more hands on deck.
It is our mission to place you with the best project for your circumstances. Let us know what those are and let us help you find the right place! Every open heart and willingness to help is genuinely appreciated!
We would be happy to put you in contact with a past volunteer! They can tell you about their experience, cultural tips, and their interaction with Buena Onda. Please ask if you would like to talk with a past volunteer.
We know that Guatemala has a rough reputation in the news. While it is true\ that there are certain areas in Guatemala City or the lowland jungles that can be a little dicey, Guatemala as a whole is a peaceful, kind, and welcoming country. Like anywhere in the world, you should stay aware of your surroundings and do your best to flow with the culture around you. Violent crime against foreigners is very rare and petty crime like theft happens mostly in crowded areas where smart phones, wallets, or cameras are easily accessed by pickpockets. Guatemala’s crime rates are lower than many first-world countries. We encourage you to listen to the locals who stay current with the situation rather than relying on blanket statements from embassies. For our part, we never place volunteers in areas that are unstable and we maintain contact with volunteers in case of emergencies.
It is common for visitors to experience some discomfort in their stomachs, which can be settled by home remedies or over-the-counter medicines, like Cipro. There are health clinics all over the country for sprains or more delicate sicknesses. If needed, you will find world-class, modern hospitals in Guatemala City. Local staff at your volunteer project will be your best resource if you get sick. It is your responsibility to speak up if you don’t feel well, and one of the worst things you can do for yourself is to suffer in silence – we all want you to enjoy your time and, between the Buena Onda team and our community partners, we have seen and heard it all!
You do not need any specialist health insurance. Standard travel insurance should cover your activities here. However you should read through your insurance policy before traveling.
Volunteers come to Guatemala on tourist visas. Guatemala does not have work visas, unless you decide to become a resident. Tourist visas are valid for 90 days. You can then get an extension from the immigration office for another 90 days. If you stay in Guatemala for the 180 days, you must leave at this point and go to a country not in the CA4 agreement (Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala). Most long-time tourists go to Mexico for a weekend to renew their visas, then reenter Guatemala to start the 90 days over again.
It is not easy to change money in Guatemala. Banks are very particular about the quantity and condition of the bills they accept. In more rural areas, banks sometimes do not accept foreign currency, Travelers checks are not accepted in Guatemala.
Our recommendation is to come to Guatemala with an ATM card that you can use to take money out of ATMs. There is a daily monetary limi to ATM withdrawals, which is about $350USD. In areas with more foreign visitors, like Antigua, you can soemtimes use credit cards (with ID). Make sure your bank is aware that you will be traveling and using your card(s) in Guatemala. We are happy to advise you more specifically once we know your travel plans and project location.