Guatemala is one of the most bio-diverse and historically significant countries in Central America. Because of its shape, the country is bordered by four different countries—Mexico to the north, Belize to the northeast, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast; as well as reaching the Pacific and the Caribbean. The country’s abundance of biologically unique ecosystems makes the entire MesoAmerican region a biodiversity hotspot. Guatemala offers a plethora of sites to see including Lake Atitlán, Tikal, the jungle, and the Pacific coast. La Antigua, the most popular destination in the country for both tourists and Guatemalans alike, is famous for its well preserved colonial architecture and spectacular ruins, so much so that the entire city is designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site by the United Nations. As Antigua is a major destination for both international and local visitors, the government has made great efforts to ensure safety and a special “tourist police” force is deployed around the city, making Antigua the safest place in Guatemala.
How to get it all started
The best way is to do a TEFL course in Guatemala. After applying for a TEFL course, you can start organizing your accommodation and travel.
Visa and other paperwork
Generally most people arrive to take the TEFL and get settled with a 90-day tourist visa. From there, it depends on the job you get whether you receive a work visa or simply step out for a few days every 3 months to renew your tourist visa.
Costs of living versus how much a teacher can make
Average salary for English teachers in Guatemala varies, but you can generally expect to make enough to live on and do a little traveling. During your resume workshop in the course, you will be taken through some of the differences in teaching English positions throughout the country (peak hiring times, general salary, benefits such as housing, etc).
Getting around Guatemala – Antigua
The city of Antigua is an easy 30-45 minutes by bus or private shuttle from the capital of Guatemala City, where most international flights land. In Antigua, It’s easy to follow the basic grid system of the center and it’s easy to explore on foot as everything is within a 10-15 minute walk. Motorcycle taxis (‘tuk-tuks’) and regular taxis are also available and can be found at the city center or in front of most churches. Traveling out of Antigua and into the capital city is also easy with taxis, shuttles, and “chicken buses” available at most hours of the day.
Cultural differences (people, language, challenges, etc.)
Guatemalan culture is an interesting mix of ancient Mayan traditions with colonial Spanish and modern western influences. For example, the main religions are a combination of Catholicism or Evangelical Christian combined with Mayan beliefs resulting in a unique spirituality. Guatemalans are very conservative and you should take care not to draw extra attention to yourself.
Travelling around America from Guatemala
Travelling to any country in Central America is very cheap and easy, by bus or by plane. Guatemala is also well connected to North and South America from the international airport of La Aurora in Guatemala City.