I just returned yesterday from spending 1 week in Guatemala volunteering at the Eco Agriculture program.
Simply put this program was fantastic. Everything about this program made this one of the best times of my life.
Chelsea was beyond amazing in answering ANY and ALL questions I had, and believe me I had a lot of questions. Her responses were always professional and timely. I could not have asked for a better coordinator.
Maximo Novel could not have been a better in country program, they eased all stresses and worries I had, because believe me I received so many emails and comments from friends and co-workers when they realized I was going to Guatemala alone. To the point I wonder if I should backed out.
I am so happy I did not BACK OUT.
I read up on Guatemala and I learned about the country and culture prior to arrival so this was helpful, the information booklet was highly informative and gives great recommendations on what to read prior to arriving. Antigua is very easy to walk, and the buses were not as bad as I thought. (I was practically paranoid, to get on that bus). It is a very beautiful country and you will not regret going.
As Green as it gets. I can't say enough about this program. I was not in nearly as great as shape as I thought I was, and came down with a cold, so my help was not as wonderful as it I hoped it to be, and as so many people have commented I received a lot more, that I felt I could give. I was only there for a week, so I tried to do everything I could to help make their lives easier. I can't say enough about the program. This was an excellent and very EDUCATIONAL experience. You have NO idea how much work goes into a single cup of coffee, and it made me that much more appreciative.
My home stay was one of the best things about this program. I can't begin to even tell you how much I am going to miss my house mother, she was one of the best humans I have ever met in my life, and I will do my best to get back and visit. She was fantastic.
Learn as much Spanish as you can. Not much English is spoken and the locals are very appreciative of any Spanish you can speak.
If you do this program, understand it is HARD work, you will do a lot of hiking sometimes up to a hour to pick the coffee. It is very hard but also VERY rewarding work.
Come with no expectations, and try to not worry about all the "bad" you hear about in Guatemala. Believe me I was practically panicking over it (I shouldn't have been!!!) The people are warm and inviting and truly some of the friendliest people I have met in my life.
This program is fantastic. I can't wait to go on my next trip!