Safety in Quetzaltenango
/ See also Hot Tips
/ How to get Xela
Theft in Guatemala is generally no more prevalent than most other places
in the world. Like everywhere in the world, please take proper precautions,
particularly in crowded places such as markets or buses. If students keep
things in a money pouch, it should be under clothing. Note: We highly
recommend carrying a copy and not your original passport so as to avoid
paying $50.00 and waiting 3 days in Guatemala City to receive a new one
in the case that you lose it!! When travelling, carry with you a photocopy
of your passport. If you are going to be traveling on unknown bus routes,
please ask in the office about the safety of the area.
One very serious caution to women: At any hour of the day you should be
cautious of men who like to touch. Local women are aware of this and walk
alert every second aware of the fact that they can be quickly groped or
grabbed in the breast or butt (usually quickly and nothing more, not even
a second look from the perpetrator). This is especially true for women
with blonde or brown hair. Some guidebooks suggest you ignore such harassment,
but women we know who have angrily confronted it say they were able to
literally scare off the perpetrators. If however you don't feel confident
and/or safe in a sexist environment, you may consider carrying Mace. Another
note is that the men here whistle, shout, or mumble words to women very
frequently - not only to tourist women, but local women as well. Be aware
that you will experience stares, and potential harassment on a regular
basis. Wearing make-up, sun dresses, tight or other clothing that the
locals do not use does little more than invite this sort of thing to happen
on a more than tolerable frequency.
Xela is a relatively safe city. People generally feel safe walking around
until 9PM or later. However, after dark following the "stay away
from deserted streets that aren't lit" rule is always a good idea.
Please remember to look both ways before crossing the street, as pedestrians
do not have any manner of claim to the road. In fact, we recommend paranoia
as a companion while traversing the streets here. We encourage visitors
and students to walk each other home after nighttime activities. Always
remember that a taxi is a good value for the safety it can give.
Getting Around Quetzaltenango
Although disconcerting at first, it is pretty easy once you feel you way
around. Local buses are good for long distances and only 1 quetzal. However,
most places can be reached on foot in less than 45 minutes. The buses
basically go in two directions: to the Minerva terminal or the Rotonda
and most pass by Parque Central at some point. It is always best to ask.
Buses going to Minerva terminal can be caught in 8a Calle at the intersection
of 12 Avenida. They either go out 4a Calle (El Calvario) or up 14 Avenida
and nearly all pass through or near La Democracia. Going to the Rotonda,
buses stop at 10a Calle near 11 Av.