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Antigua Guatemala
Antigua, the capital of the Captaincy-General of Guatemala, was founded in the early 16th century. Built 1,500 m above sea-level, in an earthquake-prone region, it was largely destroyed by an earthquake in 1773 but its principal monuments are still preserved as ruins. In the space of under three centuries the city, which was built on a grid pattern inspired by the Italian Renaissance, acquired a number of superb monuments.
Lodging in Antigua


Primarily ER Abroad uses hotel Casa De Las Fuentes.   It is in downtown Antigua.   The rooms are set up as singles, doubles, triples, and quadruples.  Whenever possible, we share rooms with other ER Abroad members to save on cost.  If you have special needs requiring, you to have either a single room or a ground floor room please let the team leader(s) know so they can arrange accommodations for you. If you know someone you want to room with let us know that as well. It has Wi-Fi (although sketchy at times), television in the rooms, as well as private baths.  There are NO safes in the rooms but available at the front desk.  There is a laundry service.  A breakfast buffet and some dinners are included in what you have already paid to the trip. The hotel’s website is:  There might be a clinic that requires us to stay at a different hotel closer to our clinic site.  We will let you know ahead of time if this should occur.

Note: All hotel reservations are made by ER Abroad Admin only.

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Collaborating Organizations in Guatemala 


Judy and her husband Phillip (RIP-2015) has been taking on teams since 1998.  She splits her time in Jocotenango and Abbotsford, BC, Canada.  Her projects include student sponsors, construction of houses for poor families, soup kitchens and VBS programs for the children.  ER Abroad has been partnering with Love Guatemala since the inception of ER Abroad in 2011.  She has been instrumental in helping ER Abroad set up medical clinics in rural villages.


Oscar and his team have been hosting mission teams from church groups to medical teams for many years.  ER Abroad partnered with BuildinGuate in 2008.  BuildinGuate is committed to providing through construction, nutrition education, health and guidance to an extremely impoverished community living around a municipal landfill in Escuintla known as the “Land of Hope”. Through this partnership, ER Abroad has been providing medical care to the people who live at the garbage dump during our clinics twice a year.  Through a generous donation given to ER Abroad, the “Land of Hope” now has a medical clinic that was built to provide a place for medical/dental teams and even the Public Health of Escuintla to care for the people at the dump. 

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Guatemala, located in Central America, has a rich and complex history that spans thousands of years. Here is a brief overview of key historical periods in Guatemala:

Ancient Civilizations:

Guatemala's history begins with the ancient civilizations that inhabited the region. The Maya civilization, one of the most advanced pre-Columbian cultures, thrived in Guatemala from about 2000 BCE to 1500 CE. The Maya left behind impressive archaeological sites, such as Tikal, where towering pyramids and intricate temples showcase their architectural and artistic achievements.

Spanish Conquest (16th Century):

In 1524, Spanish conquistadors, led by Pedro de Alvarado, arrived in Guatemala. The Spanish encountered resistance from the indigenous populations, including various Mayan groups. Despite initial conflicts, the Spanish established control, and Guatemala became part of the Captaincy General of Guatemala within the Viceroyalty of New Spain.

Colonial Period:

Guatemala remained a Spanish colony for nearly three centuries. The colonial era saw the imposition of Spanish culture, language, and religion on the indigenous peoples. The economy was centered around agriculture, with Spanish landowners exploiting indigenous labor.

Independence (19th Century):

Guatemala, along with other Central American countries, gained independence from Spain in 1821. After a brief period as part of the Mexican Empire, Central America united to form the Federal Republic of Central America. However, internal strife and regional tensions led to the dissolution of the federation in 1838, and Guatemala became an independent nation.

Liberal Reforms and Dictatorships (19th-20th Century):

The 19th and early 20th centuries were marked by political instability, with periods of liberal reforms and authoritarian rule. Coffee became a major export, contributing to economic growth, but also leading to social inequality. Dictators such as Manuel Estrada Cabrera and Jorge Ubico ruled during this time.

Guatemalan Civil War (1960-1996):

One of the darkest chapters in Guatemala's history was the civil war that lasted from 1960 to 1996. Fueled by social inequality, political repression, and land disputes, the conflict pitted the government against leftist guerrilla groups. The war resulted in widespread human rights abuses, including massacres and disappearances. A peace agreement was signed in 1996, bringing an end to the conflict.

Post-War Period:

Since the end of the civil war, Guatemala has faced challenges of social reconstruction, justice, and reconciliation. Indigenous rights, land reform, and addressing the legacies of the conflict have been ongoing issues. Political and social reforms have aimed at building a more inclusive and democratic society.

Contemporary Challenges:

In the 21st century, Guatemala continues to grapple with issues such as poverty, corruption, and violence. Indigenous communities advocate for their rights, and efforts are made to strengthen democratic institutions and address social and economic disparities.

Guatemala's history is characterized by a rich cultural heritage, struggles for independence and justice, and ongoing efforts to build a more inclusive and equitable society.

Being Culturally Aware in Guatemala

Being culturally sensitive is crucial when participating in a medical mission in Guatemala. Understanding the cultural context helps ensure respectful and effective interactions with the local population. Here are key considerations for cultural sensitivity:

1. Language:

  • Spanish and Indigenous Languages: While Spanish is the official language, many indigenous communities speak their own languages. Learning basic phrases in the local language can enhance communication and build rapport.

2. Cultural Awareness:

  • Mayan Heritage: Recognize and respect the influence of Mayan culture on the local population. Understand the significance of traditional practices, rituals, and worldviews.

3. Religious Beliefs:

  • Syncretism: Acknowledge the syncretism of Catholicism and indigenous beliefs. Be aware of religious practices and respect diverse spiritual perspectives.

4. Traditional Medicine:

  • Herbal Remedies: Traditional herbal remedies are often used in conjunction with Western medicine. Be open to discussions about complementary practices and inquire about patients' preferences.

5. Family Structure:

  • Extended Families: Guatemalan families are often extended, and decisions may involve multiple family members. Inquire about family dynamics and consider involving family in healthcare discussions.

6. Communication Styles:

  • Non-Verbal Communication: Pay attention to non-verbal cues, as they play a significant role in communication. Respectful gestures, body language, and eye contact are important.

7. Privacy and Modesty:

  • Modesty Norms: Understand cultural norms regarding modesty and privacy. Ensure that patients feel comfortable by providing private spaces and offering gender-appropriate care when necessary.

8. Cultural Humility:

  • Openness to Learning: Approach the mission with humility and a willingness to learn. Be open to different perspectives, and avoid imposing cultural assumptions.

9. Community Involvement:

  • Community Engagement: Engage with the local community, community leaders, and traditional healers. Building trust and collaboration is essential for the success of medical missions.

10. Socioeconomic Factors:

  • Economic Disparities: Be aware of economic disparities and the impact on health. Consider the financial constraints of patients and tailor recommendations accordingly.

11. Cultural Competence Training:

  • Preparation: Attend cultural competence training sessions before the mission to gain insights into the cultural nuances of the local population.

12. Respect for Indigenous Practices:

  • Traditional Birth Practices: In the case of maternity care, be aware of traditional birth practices and preferences. Understand the role of traditional midwives in some communities.

13. Time Perception:

  • Flexible Time: Time perception may differ. Be flexible with schedules and understand that appointments and events may not always adhere strictly to Western concepts of punctuality.

14. Respect for Elders:

  • Elder Respect: Show respect for older individuals, as they hold significant roles in the community. Address elders with appropriate titles and acknowledge their wisdom.

15. Cultural Competence of Team:

  • Team Education: Ensure that the entire medical mission team is educated on cultural sensitivity. This includes healthcare professionals, support staff, and volunteers.

Being culturally sensitive fosters positive relationships, promotes trust, and enhances the overall impact of medical missions. It's important to approach the mission with an open mind, a willingness to adapt, and a genuine respect for the cultural diversity present in Guatemala.

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