2019 In Guatemala

It's Time To Howl

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positions open for 2019.

Overview

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¡Buena Onda!  Guatemala – The Heart Of The Mayan World.

Howl Often welcomes you to Guatemala! The former capital, Antigua, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site an immaculately preserved colonial city with cobbled streets and ringed by spectacular volcanoes. Antigua is also the tourism center and party town of Guatemala. Cool bars and cafes boasting craft beers and single origin coffees plus lots to enjoy outside the city; adventure activities including trips to the picturesque Mayan villages around Lake Atitlan and day and overnight hikes to explore spectacular volcanoes.

Join Howl Often, an open-hearted community of women who explore the wild for self-empowerment, for a week in Antigua, Guatemala. 

Antigua is a place of rare beauty, major historical significance, vibrant culture, and a global hot spot. The immaculately maintained cobbled streets, glorious colonial buildings and imposing Agua Volcano have earned the city UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

This program is based in Antigua. However, as well as enjoying the town there will be various trips, including an overnight trip, to neighboring areas to interact with the locals. Not only learn about their way of life and culture but also participate in some of it and at the same time, enjoy the spectacular natural beauty of this part of the world including majestic volcanoes, lakes and rich cultural heritage.

DAY 1

Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 1.36.12 PMAntigua is an easy 1+ hour transfer from Guatemala International Airport. Upon arrival, a private airport transfer will take you directly to your homestay address.

Your homestay is in a private room and thoroughly vetted with regular feedback and inspections. It is centrally located, provides 3 meals daily and always hosts two or more guests. You also have access to a ‘Social Enterprise Hub’ with a help desk open during regular office hours providing program support and ideas on how to enjoy your free time. This is also the Howl Often meeting point for scheduled activities.

Depending on your time of arrival enjoy a short welcome Camino to familiarize yourself with the layout of Antigua. The cobblestoned streets and immaculately preserved colonial buildings make all the streets look the same on first glance, but in fact, the town is laid out in a well-organized grid pattern with street names reflecting east/west and north/south orientation. Information about local services such as banks, shops, bars, and cafes will be provided so you can hit the ground running.

DAY 2

Chicken BusEnjoy breakfast with your hosts. We will follow that with a walking tour. We'll start with Cerro de la Cruz for a fantastic panoramic view overlooking the town while learning the history of this beautiful city. We will continue to La Merced, Antigua's ornate Baroque church, and the ruins of its former convent and explore the local markets with artisanal crafts.

After lunch, we'll take our first ‘chicken bus’ – a short 5-minute trip – to San Lorenzo el Cubo. (A chicken bus is a colloquial English name for a colorful, modified and decorated bus that transports goods and people between communities in Guatemala.Meet Carmen who will first take us through her family’s coffee plantation to learn about Guatemala’s coffee history and the coffee growing process. Chocolate is also grown here and Carmen will prepare a cup of either (or both!) beverages in her home.

Return to Antigua for dinner at your homestay. There are many options for the evening including enjoying private time or socializing with your Howl Often group. Antigua has many great bars and live music venues – there is always something going on.

DAY 3

Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 1.36.29 PMBegin the day with an early morning scenic bus trip to Pacaya. Arrive in Pacaya National Park and learn about one of Central America’s most active volcanoes. Our local guide will accompany us on a  hike to an elevation of 2,552m to enjoy spectacular views of the volcano and surrounding area which reveals various geothermal activity. We'll bring chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows and roast them over hot lava.

Return to Antigua for lunch.

In the afternoon we join a cooperative of women who make various artesania including the famous ‘worry dolls’. We have an opportunity to join and participate in the production process and learn about some of the day to day issues facing the women, most of whom have children enrolled in the local NGO school.

DAY 4

Lake AtitlanToday we pack our bags for an overnight adventure to Lake Atitlán. We will learn about the local industries and lifestyle, with artisan workshops including ceramics and natural dyes. We take a boat around the different local villages to learn about the culture and history of the local people. Join in with the locals and feel a part of the indigenous people of Guatemala.

First stop is a guided visit to Iximche Ruins followed by the authentic and picturesque village of San Antonio Palopó and a ceramics workshop with local artisans.

Overnight at a rustic camp – sharing teepee accommodation and enjoying a simple dinner by an open fire on the shore of the lake (there will be access to toilet and shower facilities!).

DAY 5

imagesWe continue our exploration of Lake Atitlán with boat tour including stops in the indigenous towns of San Juan La Laguna and Santiago Attlán. Tour a women weaver’s textile cooperative to learn and participate in the process of ancestral weaving. Learn how different plants are used to dye their fabrics with natural colors.

At Santiago Atitlán, the capital of the Tz’utujil Maya, we enjoy a traditional Mayan Maximon ceremony giving thanks for natures abundance and majesty. The ceremony starts with a search for the house where the Mayan God Maximon is living, as his location changes every year when a new cofradía or brotherhood has the privilege of taking care of him. Once we find Maximon a local shaman will perform Mayan rituals.

Exhausted, head back to your homestay in Antigua.

DAY 6

Overlooking-Lake-Atitlan-from-Indian-NoseOption for a very early morning start to view a spectacular sunrise with pre-breakfast meditation. Indian Nose is a 30-minute drive along rugged roads followed by a short 15-minute hike rewarded with unmatched views of San Pedro, San Clara, San Pablo, Lake Atitlan and San Pedro Volcano as the sun rises. An opportunity to give thanks as we start our final full day in Antigua.

The rest of the daytime is unscheduled – there are many options and a plan will evolve naturally as to how the group would like to spend this time. There are many options available and our Program Manager will provide support such as transportation logistics if required. Nice to have some unscripted time!

Caoba Farms is a unique business in Antigua with a great organic farm-to-table café. For our farewell dinner, we enjoy a private dinner with live music with the option to continue the party in one or more of the many bars in town later.

DAY 7

Departure by private shuttle to Guatemala International Airport (1 hour approx.) Depending on flight departure time a final opportunity to buy gifts to take home including coffee, chocolate, and artesania.

This experience is designed to give you a meaningful, productive and fun interaction with Guatemalan people, and renew your passion for life!

Fee

$989

Duration

One week. 6-nights and 7 days.

Visa

No visa is necessary.

Start Dates

April 27 arrival in Antigua. May 4 departure back to the US.

Eligibility

*This program is for women-only. Howl Often welcomes trans women, genderqueer women, and non-binary people who are significantly female-identified. 

*Must be able-bodied to hike in rugged terrain.

Costs

$989 for one week.

GeoVisions-4cprocessThe fee you pay to participate in the Howl Often program in Guatemala goes to our 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, The GeoVisions Foundation. The program donation for this experience covers our costs of developing the program with the support of Howl Often. It covers placing you on the program in a safe place to live. The fee helps our non-profit to provide your accommodation, meals, insurance, pre-departure & in-country support. We provide 24/7 emergency service, manned by real people. Howl Often is supported from the moment you contact us to the time you return … and beyond, through our active Alumni Community.

Be sure to speak to your tax preparer to see if any of these fees can be deducted as a charitable donation.

Volunteer Program

This is a volunteer program, and as such, you will need to factor in not only the program fee above but your airfare.

It is hard to calculate your spending money requirements, so think about any additional meals and travel during your time in Guatemala.

What's Included

  • Private room accommodation with a fully vetted and screened host family. There could be more than 1 Howl Often participant at a time in a homestay.
  • Airport transfers to and from Antigua.
  • 3 meals each day when you're with your hosts.
  • All tours, experiences, guides, and transportation in Guatemala as defined in the day-by-day itinerary.

What's Not Included

  • Flights.
  • Personal expenses.
  • Optional excursions if time permits.

FAQ

Please call us on +1 (203) 453-5838 if you have questions.

We are asked the same questions each day, so we hope this page of Frequently Asked Questions will be helpful to you. Anyone in our office can answer your questions anytime you call. We want you to make informed decisions and we will be happy to talk to you anytime.

What is the homestay like?

Your homestay is in a private room and thoroughly vetted with regular feedback and inspections. It is centrally located, provides 3 meals daily and always hosts two or more guests. You also have access to a ‘Social Enterprise Hub’ with a help desk open during regular office hours providing program support and ideas on how to enjoy your free time. This is where Spanish lessons are taken and free weekly cultural activities.

In Antigua, your homestay is managed by Niño’s de Guatemala (‘NDG’). NDG currently work with eight centrally located family homestays on a consistent basis. There will always be two or more homestay guests staying in each property.

Vetting procedures to work with NDG as a homestay are very thorough. Families must complete an initial questionnaire and interview in the NDG office. Following this, a formal home visit is scheduled to complete a thorough assessment of the home to ensure quality and safety. Homestays must also provideantecedentes penales y policiacos(Guatemalan police background checks) as well as references.

Once a homestay begins working with NDG, regular assessments to ensure continued quality are conducted through client feedback (all clients are asked about their stay on a weekly or greater basis and complete a feedback form at the end of their stay). Regular homestay visits by the NDG management team take place at least once every 3 months.

NDG operate a centrally located ‘Social Enterprise Hub’ with a help desk open during regular office hours providing program support and ideas on how to enjoy your free time. This is also where Spanish lessons are taken and free weekly cultural activities.

Do I have to be a member of How Often to participate?

No.

You do need to be accepted into the program by Howl Often. If you are not a member, you'll be asked to fill out a simple "Supplemental" form to secure your place in this unique program.

Where will I be? Is there a map?

Screen Shot 2018-10-29 at 9.35.26 PM
 
Guatemala City's ‘Aeropuerto La Aurora’ (GUA) is the country's major international airport. There are direct flights from the USA and Europe with a variety of airlines, as well many connections to other Central and South American countries.
 
To get to Antigua, you can either book a prepaid private taxi transfer with us OR you can take a shuttle bus service for Q80 (around $12 – look for the kiosk just before you leave the terminal building). You may have to wait a while for the shuttle bus to fill up before departure but they will generally take you to your nominated address in Antigua.
 
Visas are generally not required for stays of up to 90 days – but remember to make sure you have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the dates of your trip!

What's the weather like in Guatemala?

Guatemala has one of the most pleasant climates on earth – the tourist board refers to it as the ‘land of the eternal spring’ – with much of the country enjoying warm days and mild evenings year-round. The climate is primarily determined by altitude with low lying coastal areas generally hot with the welcome relief of sea breezes while in the mountainous areas such as Antigua generally fresh.

The ‘dry’ season is generally November to April with most rainfall during summer months. During the ‘wet’season you can still expect the mornings to be nice and sunny with rainstorms in the afternoons lasting as long as an hour. It is warm rain though, and as soon as it passes, the sun usually comes out. Nights are usually dry.

What should I pack for the program like this?

Clothing The following list is not exhaustive but please try to travel light and leave room for goodies to bring home with you!

Shorts / T’shirt / lightweight long trousers / long sleeved shirts / fleece / rain jacket / good walking shoes / cap or hat / swimwear / beach towel/shades / dry bag / long sleeve rash vest/sunglasses with UV protection/sandals or good flip flops with strong sole.

Luggage – day bag is necessary for everyday use.

Long sleeve trousers and shirt - as in all subtropical areas, insects can be a nuisance, especially in the evening. Long sleeved shirts and trousers are recommended to offer the best form of protection in the evenings and for road trips may take us to altitudes where it is frigid, e.g. scarf and warm clothes (inc beanie hats!) are required for Acatenango hike (3,500m+).

Stationery some teaching materials will be provided but you are required to have your pens, pencils, notepads etc.

Photocopy of passport Travel tip email yourself a copy of your passport and other necessary documentation.

Sun Cream, zinc or other waterproof sun protection can generally be purchased locally.

Medical Kit There are pharmacies locally but you should bring any particular medications that you usually require; especially prescribed medications.

Insect Repellent and after bite insect repellant is recommended. If you are allergic to repellents seek advice before leaving your home country.

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