Preparing to Go
You must be proficient in spoken and written Spanish; all communication among the staff, rounds, and charting takes place in Spanish. Most patients speak only Tz’utujil, and Spanish-Tz’utujil interpretation is provided by the Atiteco members of the hospital staff.
If you would like to sharpen your Spanish language skills before you arrive, we can recommend the following language schools in Guatemala:
- Casa Rosario (San Pedro La Laguna)
- Asociación Pop Wuj (Quetzaltenango)
- Centro Maya de Idiomas (Quetzaltenango)
Before you go
- Browse through the information on our website and the links from our site.
- Read over the Hospitalito Atitlán volunteer letter [pdf] and volunteer orientation [pdf].
- Listen to the audio diaries of Drs. Bernie and Jack Page, two US physicians who volunteered at the Hospitalito for two years.
- Read over past reports from Penn medical students who worked at Hospitalito Atitlán (2005, 2006 - pdf). E-mail them to get tips on getting to and living in Santiago Atitlán. Print out a copy of Phil Lederer’s map of Santiago Atitlán [jpg].
- Read Health Information for Travelers to Countries in Mexico and Central America from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is no malaria risk around Lake Atitlán. Click here for vaccine costs at Penn’s Student Health Service.
- Read up on Guatemalan history, politics, and culture. Watch the movies El Norte and Men with Guns.
Guatemalan history and politics
- Silence on the Mountain: Stories of Terror, Betrayal, and Forgetting in Guatemala, by Daniel Wilkinson (Duke University Press, 2004)
- Unfinished Conquest: The Guatemalan Tragedy, by Victor Perera (University of California Press, 1995)
- Buried Secrets: Truth and Human Rights in Guatemala, by Victoria Sanford (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004)
- Guatemala: Never Again!, by Archdiocese of Guatemala (Orbis, 1999)
- I, Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala, by Rigoberta Menchú (Verso, 1987)
- Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America, by Walter LaFeber (W. W. Norton, 1993)
- Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala, by Stephen Schlesinger (Harvard University, 2005)
- Guatemala Journey, by Stephen Connely Benz (University of Texas Press, 1996)
Santiago Atitlán and surrounding towns
- The Lake Atitlán Reference Guide, by Richard Morgan Szybist (Adventures in Education, 2004)
- The War for the Heart and Soul of a Highland Maya Town, by Robert S. Carlsen (University of Texas Press, 1997)
- The Shepherd Cannot Run: Letters of Stanley Rother, Missionary and Martyr, by Stanley Rother (Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, 1984)
- Art and Society in a Highland Maya Community: The Altarpiece of Santiago Atitlán, by Allen J. Christenson (University of Texas Press, 2001)
- Rituals of Sacrifice: Walking the Face of the Earth on the Sacred Path of the Sun, by Vincent Stanzione (University of New Mexico Press, 2003)
- The Disobedience of the Daughter of the Sun: A Mayan Tale of Ecstasy, Time, and Finding One’s True Form, by Martín Prechtel (North Atlantic Books, 2005)
- Long Life, Honey in the Heart: A Story of Initiation and Eloquence from the Shores of a Mayan Lake, by Martín Prechtel (North Atlantic Books, 2004)
- Stealing Benefacio's Roses: A Mayan Epic, by Martín Prechtel (North Atlantic Books, 2002)
- Secrets of the Talking Jaguar: Memoirs from the Living Heart of a Mayan Village, by Martín Prechtel (Tarcher, 1998)
- Scandals in the House of Birds: Shamans and Priests on Lake Atitlan, by Nathaniel Tarn and Martín Prechtel (Marsilio Publishers, 1997)
- Joseño: Another Mayan Voice Speaks from Guatemala, by Ignacio Bizarro Ujpán and James D. Sexton (University of New Mexico Press, 2001)
- Ignacio: The Diary of a Maya Indian of Guatemala, by Ignacio Bizarro Ujpán and James D. Sexton (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991)
- Campesino: The Diary of a Guatemalan Indian, by Ignacio Bizarro Ujpán and James D. Sexton (University of Arizona Press, 1985)
- Son of Tecún Umán: A Maya Indian Tells His Life Story, by Ignacio Bizarro Ujpán and James D. Sexton (Waveland Press, 1990)
- Heart of Heaven, Heart of Earth and Other Mayan Folktales, by Ignacio Bizarro Ujpán and James D. Sexton (Smithsonian Books, 1999)
- Mayan Folktales: Folklore from Lake Atitlán, Guatemala, by James D. Sexton (University of New Mexico Press, 1999)
- English-Spanish Spanish-English Medical Dictionary, by Glenn Rogers (McGraw-Hill Medical Publishing, 2006)
- ¿La ütz awäch? Introduction to Kaqchikel Maya Language, by R. McKenna Brown (University of Texas Press, 2006)
- The Rough Guide to Guatemala, by Iain Stewart (Rough Guides, Limited, 2006)
- Donde no hay doctor: una guía para los campesinos que viven lejos de los centros médicos, by David Werner (Hesperian Foundation, 1980)
- M. Roberts (2006). Duffle bag medicine. JAMA 295:1491-149
- M. Mark et al. (2006). International volunteer medicine. JAMA 296:652
- M. Roberts (2006). International volunteer medicine- reply. JAMA 296:652-653