How to get to the clinic
May 21, 2018

¡Bi­en­venidos a Guatemala! The plane has just landed at the Guatemala City In­ter­na­tional La Au­rora Air­port. Your ad­ven­ture has be­gun!

At the air­port

You will need to move through pass­port con­trol - an en­try stamp will be put into your travel doc­u­ment. The cus­toms of­fi­cer will in­form you that you are al­lowed to stay in Guatemala for 90 days. The cus­toms of­fi­cer is un­likely to be in­ter­ested in your re­turn ticket, but, just in case, you should have it printed out ahead of time.

In the air­craft or at the air­port, you will be given a cus­toms de­c­la­ra­tion where in­for­ma­tion on do­na­tions and/​​or med­ical sup­plies must be dis­closed and given to the cus­toms of­fi­cer be­fore leav­ing the air­port. You need to check the ‘dona­ciones’ and/​​or ‘medica­men­tos’ boxes if you are car­ry­ing any. Your lug­gage is likely to be checked, but don’t worry - it’s not il­le­gal to carry hu­man­i­tar­ian aid.

In case your lug­gage is held by the cus­toms - first of all, don’t panic. In­form the of­fi­cers that you are a Health&Help vol­un­teer and show the hu­man­i­tar­ian aid cover let­ter ex­plain­ing you are re­ceiv­ing no money for your work. As­sure the of­fi­cers you are giv­ing the do­na­tions away, help­ing the Guatemalan cit­i­zens pro bono. To seal the deal, show them pic­tures of the clinic on you phone.

Un­der no cir­cum­stances should you leave do­na­tions at the air­port. If the of­fi­cer is re­lent­less, try brib­ing him/​​her - we will re­im­burse these ex­penses. They usu­ally ex­pect $50 per 25 ki­los, but be pre­pared to be asked for more. Try in­sist­ing on not hav­ing more money. If an un­der­stand­ing can’t be reached, call the Health&Help Co­or­di­na­tor.

If you are Health&Help’s new med­ical vol­un­teer or co­or­di­na­tor, our Span­ish tu­tors will pre­pare you for such sit­u­a­tions.

Here are some phrases which might come in handy when ne­go­ti­at­ing with the of­fi­cer:

Af­ter you are done with cus­toms, you need to ex­change your Amer­i­can dol­lars for Guatemalan Quet­za­les (the lo­cal cur­rency, named af­ter the na­tional bird of Guatemala) in or­der to hail a taxi or take the bus to Mo­mos­te­nango. Please note that the ex­change rate at the air­port is not as good as at the bank.

The ex­change rate is nor­mally 1$ = 7.5Q, but it is of­ten sub­ject to change so, to be on the safe side, dou­ble check this in­for­ma­tion be­fore trav­el­ling.

It is ad­vis­able to buy a SIM card at the air­port. We rec­om­mend the Q99 plan with Tigo (3Gb+what­sapp and Face­book free of charge). Fill it with 100Q, dial *123#, choose ‘Pa­que­ti­gos para Nave­g­ar’, add the 99Q plan and press ‘Com­prar’. The mo­bile con­nec­tion and In­ter­net should be work­ing now.

Get­ting to the Clinic

As the clinic is op­er­at­ing at full ca­pac­ity now and serv­ing many pa­tients daily, we are not able to pick you up di­rectly from Guatemala City.

There are three op­tions:

  • In case you ar­rive be­fore 2 p.m., you can take a di­rect bus to the clinic;
  • In case you ar­rive be­tween 2 p.m. and 4pm, the only op­tion is in­di­rect con­nec­tion;
  • In case you ar­rive af­ter 4 p.m., you will have to spend the night at a ho­tel.

You need to get to the El Tre­bol bus stop by hail­ing a taxi or or­der­ing an Uber. It takes around 30 min­utes and 50Q to get there. You need to in­sist on 50Q as taxi dri­vers tend to over­charge white tourists.

Di­rect con­nec­tion be­fore 2 pm

When at the “El Tre­bol” bus sta­tion, you need to find the bus go­ing to Mo­mos­te­nango. The ticket costs around 35Q.

The trans­porta­tion sys­tem in Guatemala is rather pe­cu­liar so don’t even try to find a sched­ule or a ticket of­fice. The buses leave the sta­tion every hour, but even the dri­ver hardly knows when ex­actly. Try to keep in mind that the last bus to Mo­mos­te­nango de­parts around 3pm.

Your lug­gage must be placed right next to you or un­der your seat. You will be of­fered to put the lug­gage on the rooftop: do not agree as it might be stolen.

In­di­rect Con­nec­tion Be­tween 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

There are no di­rect buses to Mo­mos­te­nango af­ter 3pm. You need to take the bus to “Cu­a­tro Caminos”. It costs around 15-20Q.

When at the “Cu­a­tro Caminos” bus stop, you need to find a bus to Mo­mos­te­nango (~7-10Q). The dri­vers will help you find the nec­es­sary bus. Dou­ble check the des­ti­na­tion sign on the front of the bus.

In case you are not able to carry your lug­gage, you may ask the dri­vers to help you; but al­ways be care­ful and dou­ble check that the lug­gage has been placed in­side the bus.

Stay­ing at the ho­tel

In case you are ar­riv­ing af­ter 4pm, there is a slim chance you will catch a bus to the clinic the same day. There is an op­tion to book a room at Dai Nonni Ho­tel near the air­port; it is a free-of-charge ac­co­mo­da­tion for vol­un­teers. How­ever, there are lim­i­ta­tions on the num­ber of stays per month - please con­tact us in ad­vance to find out more.

In case there are no rooms at Dai Nonni, you need to book any other ho­tel of your choice. We are al­ways here to as­sist you; a spare coach might also be avail­able at our friend’s apart­ment.

When in Mo­mos­te­nango, you need to find “Lool’s Pizza” restau­rant or the “Mo­mostepan” restau­rant/​​cafe. Us­ing the free wi-fi, call one of our vol­un­teers. You will get their con­tact num­ber a month prior to your trip. We will be there soon to pick you up and in 30 min­utes you will ar­rive at the clinic.