Questions About The School
What's the difference between the Mountain School and PLQ?
The two schools are sister schools, part of the larger organization, Hermanadad Educativa.
PLQ is the school in the city of Quetzaltenango and offers an urban experience: restaurants, night life, entertainment, hot springs, shopping, etc., although it is not a touristy city. The Spanish classes are five hours a day and you live and eat with a host family.
La Escuela de la Montaña is in a very rural, mountainous, coffee region near the town of Colomba. There are no tourists or English speakers. The residents are Mayan agricultural workers and you will learn a lot about their culture and history. The Spanish classes are four hours a day, you stay in the school building with a maximum of 13 other students, and classes are outside in the school´s huge garden. You will eat all meals with a host family. Because the communities are so small, students often hang around to talk with the host parents or play with the kids.
Can I register for time at both The Mountain School and PLQ?
Sure. Lots of students spend some time at PLQ if they want to experience a bit of city life. When you complete the registration form just be clear about when you want to study at which school.
Are there days when the School is closed?
Not many! In fact, studying at the Mountain School during a holiday time adds extra adventure to your stay. The communities celebrate traditional holidays and always include the students in their celebrations.
The School is closed
September 15 (Guatemala Independence Day)
Is there internet access at the school?
There are several options available.
- You can purchase wifi access at the school for a small fee (Q50 per week or Q10 per day). We have limited bandwidth so, while you are free to use the internet as much as you want, it will be very slow if multiple students are doing downloads/updates or watching videos. Please be considerate in how you use your access.
- There is Internet access in a nearby community - 5 minute walk - although the hours vary and aren't consistent.
- You can go to Colomba, a 20-minute bus ride, where there are internet cafés.
- You can buy a chip for your mobile phone. TIGO is the best option for decent service in the area around the Mountain School.
What is the weather like?
Guatemala essentially has two distinct seasons: a rainy season and a dry season. The rainy season extends from May to October, but includes some dry periods in July and August. During the rainy season, the sun usually shines for at least part of the day, while rain comes in the afternoon. Since the School is at about 6,000ft, the nights can get cool if not cold November - February. Days are warm, with an average in the 70's. You'll need a sweater or jacket and if you are coming during the rainy season be sure to bring rain gear. Conservative dress is more appropriate and reflects the more modest clothing of the Mayan locals. Bring layers so you can adjust throughout the day/night. And bring a headlamp or flashlight for navigating at night or in case the power goes out.
Where do I eat?
You will eat all your meals with your host family, whose house is a few minutes' walk from the school building where you stay. The women who host students have been trained in nutrition, cooking and hygiene and receive ongoing training throughout the year. They are able to accommodate vegetarian diet requests and will try hard to meet other special needs. Let us know when you register if you have special diet needs.
Should I bring a gift for my host family?
It is not necessary to bring a present for your family, as they do receive a salary for their work. Pictures, postcards or small mementos are okay, or fruit or other food treats will be enjoyed.
If you want to bring something, these are some suggestions:
- Bring a book to donate to the community library. It will be shared and enjoyed by lots of kids.
- At Christmas, the School gives a toy to every child in the community. You could contribute an inexpensive toy, game or school supplies.
- The Health Clinic always needs supplies such as gloves, alcohol swabs, common medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
- The Arte en el Campo (children's music and art program) can use staples like markers, scissors, paints, fun craft supplies
How do I get there from the airport?
Read our detailed instructions on our travel page. The majority of students take a bus from Guatemala City to Quetzaltenango where they switch buses to the Mountain School. You can 1) come directly from the airport if your flight gets in early enough, 2) spend the night in Guatemala City, or 3) spend the night (or longer) in Antigua which is only 25 miles from the airport before you head out to the mountains.
We can provide private transportation if you prefer. Please contact us for information about this service.
Are there opportunities to volunteer while I'm at the School?
Students at La Escuela de la Montaña have the opportunity to help out with daily activities at the school such as caring for the vegetable and herb gardens, or tutoring and reading to the local children. When there are current construction projects in neighboring communities, some students help out when they’re not in class. Students with higher levels of Spanish fluency and who plan to spend an extended period of time studying at La Escuela de la Montaña may be able to work out placements in nearby communities depending on their interests and skills. Let us know about your interests when you register.
How safe is Guatemala?
We know that Guatemala has a very negative image when it comes to safety. Crime and violence certainly exist here, but in our many years of experience, if students use common sense and caution, they can avoid almost all issues.
Never travel or walk alone at night, listen to the local people when they tell you not to go somewhere or not to do something, watch your stuff when you are at a bus terminal, tuck away your money in different pockets when you are in a market place, etc. Use your travel smarts like you would in any big city or new place.