How does payment work for group trips, volunteer homestays, adventure treks, the language school, and transportation to/from Chico Mendes?
Please pay for your entire stay (including adventure treks, transportation, homestays, etc) in cash upon arrival at Chico Mendes (Guatemalan quetzales only, we cannot accept dollars or other currencies). We cannot offer refunds if you choose to shorten your visit.
Do I need to know Spanish or K'iche' to visit or volunteer at Chico Mendes?
Spanish language skills of international visitors have ranged from not much beyond hola and gracias to complete fluency. While a basic grasp of Spanish can help a lot (hardly anyone in Pachaj speaks English), Chico Mendes does not have any language requirement. Staff and homestay families have plenty of experience communicating with volunteers who do not speak Spanish! And just about everyone in Pachaj who speaks K'iche' also speaks Spanish (but if you're interested in learning K'iche', check out the Chico Mendes Language School).
Are vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, etc options available?
Yes. Homestay families and trek guides can accommodate your dietary restriction upon request. If you have a dietary restriction, please let us know in advance when you communicate with us about your stay.
Are there ATMs in Pachaj?
While there are no ATMs in Pachaj, there are ATMs in Salcajá and the city of Xela (Quetzaltenango), both short bus rides away. For those joining us for longer periods of time, we recommend bringing enough Guatemalan quetzales for at least one week. If you're coming directly from the airport in Guatemala City, we recommend exchanging US dollars or euros at the Banrural bank in Arrivals or using an ATM (Global Exchange offers very low exchange rates). If Armando will be picking you up, he can help you find an ATM on the way to Pachaj.
How do I get to Chico Mendes?
We can safely and reliably get you where you need to go. From airport pickups to your next travel destination in Guatemala, we've got you covered! Learn more about transportation to/from Chico Mendes.
What clothing should I bring with me?
To best respect local culture and avoid drawing unnecessary attention, we recommend dressing modestly. Women in Pachaj do not wear tank tops, skirts above the knee, or any form of shorts. Some women wear traditional cortes and huipiles (colorful, woven skirts and blouses), while others wear Western-style shirts and pants. Men typically wear T-shirts with pants or longer shorts. For swimming in the hot spring-fed municipal pool, women generally wear shorts with a tank top or swim shirt, and men wear swim trunks or shorts, with or without a swim shirt. If you're planning on volunteering, make sure to bring work clothes and sturdy boots. For long-term volunteers, pack a nice outfit or two for community celebrations. If you're planning on trekking with us, check out the Adventure Treks packing lists included with each trek description.
What do long-term volunteers and language school students do on the weekends?
There is always work to do in el vivero (the tree nursery) and in the mountains of Cantel. Whether you join us as a volunteer, language school student, or both, you are always welcome to help out on the weekends. Language students also have the option of continuing lessons on Saturdays and Sundays. In the past, visitors have also enjoyed participating in cultural events with their homestay families, playing a game of fútbol (soccer), hanging out at the Chico Mendes cabanas in the nearby forest, exploring the other highland towns of Cantel, hiking up Quiac (pronounced "keeyak," Pachaj's local mountain), visiting the city of Xela (Quetzaltenango), and touring the church of Salcajá (the first church in Central America!). You can also join us on a trek – from Lago Atitlán to Las Fuentes Georginas there's lots to discover!
Is there internet and cell reception at Chico Mendes?
Chico Mendes has wifi for project work only. For personal use, there are two internet cafés a block from Chico Mendes (and more in other parts of Pachaj), where you can connect to wifi, use a computer with internet, and print and scan documents, all for a minimal fee (i.e., approx Q 5 per hour to use a computer with internet). As for cell reception, you should be able to connect in Pachaj. Consider purchasing an international plan or local phone to avoid extra fees.