We hope to cover any questions you may have in this section. However, if you still have questions please contact us.
Central America & Mexico
Travel & Learn Spanish
It is always important to have a suitable cancellation and travel/volunteer insurance when you go abroad. Many travel insurers do not cover voluntary work, internships or extreme sports and have limited validity. Mayan Gateway advises you to use the services of JoHo Insurances. JoHo Insurances specializes in insuring volunteers, interns, travelers and expats worldwide.
What vaccines do I need in Central America and Mexico?
It is important to consult your doctor for the most up to date advice on the recommended vaccines before traveling to Central America and Mexico. Generally it is wise to get the following vaccines: tetanus, hepatitis A and B, polio, tetanus-diphtheria and typhoid. If you will be traveling to the coast or the jungle (where most of the important Mayan cities are located) it is also recommended that you have anti-malarial medicine. For more information please go to: www.cdc.gov/travel/camerica.htm
What are the most common illnesses that foreigners face in Central America and Mexico?
The most common illnesses here are stomach problems such as traveler’s diarrhea, especially while adapting to the local food and drinks. If the condition persists for more than 2 or 3 days you might have a bacterial infection, parasites, or amoebas. In this case it is recommended to visit a local clinic that will be able to diagnose and treat your problem. This is the safest and fastest way to recover and continue to enjoy your time in Central America and Mexico. Other common illnesses include: sore throat, colds, and the flu. The best prevention for these is to have the proper clothing against the cold and the rain.
How can I prevent stomach problems while traveling?
By following some simple advice, you will be able to avoid suffering from stomach problems while travelling.
- Avoid street food.
- Do not drink tap water.
- Do not eat salads or raw fruits and vegetables unless you are sure they have been properly disinfected and prepared.
- Always wash your hands before eating.
Can I find medicines while traveling?
There are many pharmacies and clinics in Central America and Mexico that offer a wide range of medicines. However, if you need a very specific medicine it is possible that you will not find it here. For this reason we recommend that you bring enough of your prescription medications for your entire trip.
What if I have diabetes, asthma, etc.?
There are many doctors (general practitioners and specialists) in Central America and Mexico, many of whom speak English. Mayan Gateway has contact with doctors that we can recommend in cases of emergency during your stay. As always it is advisable to speak with your doctor at home before your trip so that he/she can recommend specific medicines and precautions to take during your time here.
Do you offer an airport pickup service?
We want to provide the best service and make sure that your trip goes safely and smoothly. For this reason we have connections with hotels located close to the airport. We can send one of our representatives to pick you up at the airport and take you directly to your hotel or the next destination of your tour.
Will I have internet access?
Yes, most of our hotels provide unlimited internet and WI-FI access. However, at some of the more remote locations internet access may not be available.
Is it safe to travel to Central America and Mexico?
We understand this question very well: being far away from home it may seem scary not knowing how safe it is here. In general when you travel to another country you need to be careful especially when you are not familiar with the country or language. However, in most places in Central America there is relatively little crime and it generally occurs away from the areas that tourists explore. Just as in many other tourist cities of the world, tourists will occasionally be targeted for small robberies, but there have been very few violent crimes against tourists here. For this reason we recommend that you do not carry too much money or your passport, credit or debit cards when not necessary, and keep a close eye on your belongings. Regular common sense should suffice to help you have an incident free vacation.
Where can I exchange money in Central America or Mexico?
There are many banks and other local money exchange offices where you can change dollars, euros and travelers checks. To do this you must have your passport with you at the time of the transaction. Debit and credit cards (Visa and MasterCard) are widely accepted and there are many ATM’s where you can receive the local currency.
What type of Spanish programs does Mayan Gateway offer?
Mayan Gateway offers a large variety of programs for students with particular requirements and needs. We offer programs for volunteers, travelers, social workers, interns, university groups, medics, lawyers, missionaries, students of any age, children, families, and groups.
How much time will it take to learn how to speak Spanish?
If you have never spoken Spanish before, you should be able to have short conversations after one week, using the present tense in order to express your basic needs and feelings. After 3-4 weeks your Spanish level should be intermediate: you will be able to have conversations in the present, past, and future tenses and learn a fair amount of the most commonly used vocabulary. After the 7th week you will reach the advanced level. Gradually you will perfect the different tenses and grammar becoming closer to fluency. The time necessary to reach this level will vary depending on your interest and practice outside of the school.
I already speak basic Spanish. Can I progress to a more advanced level?
All of our classes are customized and each teacher has experience working with students of every level of Spanish. After an initial assessment of your abilities, your classes will be developed around your specific abilities and needs.
How can I obtain university credits for my study?
Many universities and colleges grant credits for students that take part in this type of language study. To receive credit you must contact your university or college beforehand to obtain their requirements. We will gladly provide you with all the help you need to complete any additional information or requirements that you may require. If you need special grammar content or other specific programs to satisfy your university or college, we will help you to meet these requirements. At the end of your course with us you will receive a diploma, which states the level of Spanish that you have achieved.
What kind of hotels will I stay in?
Mayan Gateway has carefully selected all of the hotels included in our tours. Aspects like quality of the rooms, location, service, restaurant, and capacity, among others have been evaluated.
How much do the tours and programs cost?
The clients of Mayan Gateway benefit from some of the best package deals and prices of the region. Also we have seasonal promotions and special discounts for groups. Contact us for more information.
When and how should I pay Mayan Gateway?
You can pay online at www.mayangateway.com and you can also make a bank transaction via internet. For more information, please contact us.
What types of volunteer work are available?
In Central America and Mexico there is a wide range of projects in which you can volunteer. For example:
- Educational (art, English classes, Math, helping with homework, etc.)
- Health related (medical assistance to rural villages, physical therapy, etc.)
- Social work (orphanages, promoting artisans, Guatemalan organizations, etc.)
- and other projects such as ecotourism and reforestation.
What is the minimum time needed to volunteer?
This depends on the individual project, but generally you need to commit to work for at least 2 weeks.
Is it possible to study Spanish and volunteer at the same time?
Yes, the majority of volunteers study in the mornings and then volunteer in the afternoons. Students who wish to volunteer in the mornings can receive Spanish classes in the afternoon.
Is it possible to volunteer without studying Spanish?
Yes, but the majority of the projects requires a certain Spanish level since communication is a fundamental part in participating in these projects. If you do not already speak Spanish, you may be required to study Spanish prior to taking a volunteer position.
Do I need to pay in order to volunteer?
No, you just need to have an intention and desire to help out the projects with whatever tasks they need to accomplish.