After Guatemala I went on to backpack Columbia, Brazil, then over to morocco and Asia. All different and wonderful experiences. My time at Buenas Cosas will always remain special to me. I relished in the little moments, like the kids hacking down the palm leaves (for fun and work). How everyone worked together. Was happy. And appreciated nature and life around them. An experience I journaled about and will forever remember, especially when laying in my handmade hammock.
I visited Buenas Cosas in October of 2015 and it was not at all what I expected. I left after 5 days, covered in bug bites with the first signs of Giardia and out $200 because I had been asked to bring a bicycle with me from the USA and I had paid the fee to take it on the plane.
When I found the Buenas Cosas website and read about the collective, it seemed like a really well establish organization. I was taken in by all the buzz words: permaculture, sustainability and most of all bikes! I had chosen the cheapest option ahead of time, since I knew that I could up grade, but not down grade. $10 a day for 10 days got me a hammock under a pavilion with an outdoor toilet and shower and an outdoor cooking area with one knife and a hole in a bench where you could light a fire to heat things. The weather was hot and muggy at night and a creek runs through the gated in compound, so the mosquitoes were horrendous. Cooking with a fire like this takes a while to get good at, and there was no way to store food so that it didnt go bad in a day. The water was not potable and all that was provided by the family was tea and tortillas occasionally.
A few other people were volunteering at the same time as me. Two of them had chosen the most expensive option which got them a room and meals with the family, but it sounded like they mostly ate tortillas and rice, so they were supplementing their food elsewhere too. They were teaching local school kids a few days a week and they felt very unsupported, but they kept their chins up.
Another girl spent her days taking care of chickens and a horse that ran away constantly. She got up at sunrise to feed them and worked until sunset.
My task for the first 3 days was to shovel mud and rocks into a wheel barrel and move it over to a place where the river had flooded.
I was excited to take part in a bicycle program, but disappointed to learn that there were only a few bicycles and they belonged to the owner's ex-husband and her son who used them to train for bike races. They weren't really available to volunteers without some begging.
At this point I decided to try out the Spanish classes. The owner invited a woman to come teach. She seemed to have no experience. She wasn't able to assess my skill or teach conjugation, and after asking me to repeat the months and days of the week we both gave up and she took advantage of an opportunity to practice her English. Afterwards I was asked to pay more than we'd agreed on.
I decided there was no reason to stay any longer and when I told Angelica she informed me that I wouldn't get a refund on my 5 remaining days, and that they no longer had t-shirts (which they usually give volunteers as a thank you).
The experience felt like a scam that was using the beautiful idea of a rural homestay, sustainability and a women's collective to attract foreigners and get cheap labour. In my opinion you're better off WWOOFing someplace where at least you're part of an organization with guiding principals and clear expectations of your work in exchange for food and accomodation.
Go to Peten and hang with these people. Good times. Beer at the store up the street is 10Q a liter!!!
Am an herbalist here in the US. My 5-year-old son and stayed at Buenas Cosas and it was awesome. Angelica, Yanira and Teresa are all so knowledgeable and I learned about all the local Maya jungle plants and their traditional uses. Wish we had more time. We'll be back to ride some of those bikes!!!
Tom and I had a wonderful time at Buenas Cosas. We especially enjoyed our walk through the jungle to the beach Angelica's food was superb!
Being a solo-female traveler and very selective about my travel outside the US. Researched Buenas Cosas for several weeks before I made my final decision. The communication was excellent before my arrival. Upon my arrival, Angelica had excellent homemade empenadas waiting for my dinner and her children are all so very charming. Was not a volunteer - am just a traveler. But it was obvious the volunteers I met during my stay were very happy with their Buenas Cosas decision too. Many of the volunteers come in from the surrounding communities to the Permaculture Compound on their free weekends, fun weekends. Good conversations and lots of fun at the beach! Whether you're a traveler like me or someone wanting to volunteer, this place is tops on my list.
Got there to discover rat feces on the beds and fleas bouncing around the place. While the space was laid out nice, Anjelica was rude towards us from the beginning. Any suggestions or comments have resulted in personal barbs and attacks.
Buenas Cosas Good Things 10/12/2017
Matt Malouf is a liar. This is yet another attempt at an anonymous 'review' from a man who brought his family to stay at Buenas Cosas. Upon arrival his wife abused their daughter, he stormed out the door and into the darkness, only to return 15 minutes later with wild claims of rat poop and ill-treatment. After that horrid evening, Matt Malouf's claims expanded to include fleas, urine, etc. as he pursued a fraudulent PayPal dispute which was decided in favor of Buenas Cosas. We have video testimonials of witnesses to the abuse, another from a volunteer who stayed in the same room 24 hours later and more, all refuting everything in this 'anonymous review' and Matt Malouf's now dismissed PayPal dispute. This was a terrifying experience for those who witnessed the abuse. More than anything we regret having to share this nonsense in such a public forum.
I spent a couple weeks with Buenas Cosas volunteering in their local community and participating in a few of their eco-tours. My understanding of Spanish greatly improved while I was there, as did my understanding of the landscape, Mayan culture and history. The family at Buenas Cosas is incredibly welcoming and very open to helping their volunteers find the right activities to utilize their interests or skills. I was able to meet a few other families in the barrio and help them with various gardening tasks, as well as work with a small group of other BC volunteers at the local school - doing a little English language instruction and working with the kids to install a school garden.
I really enjoyed meeting the multiple generations of determined women who are working to make their communities stronger, healthier, and more sustainable. Angelica is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to food, politics, and community development. So much inspiration!
Through Buenas Cosas and their dedication to providing tours of northern Peten with authentic, local guides, I was able to take a trek into the jungle to visit La Danta pyramid and other historic sites. This multi-day journey still remains one of the most memorable experiences of all my travels!
Thanks Buenas Cosas!
Did the Maya Medicinal Plants workshop and learned a lot. It was a lot of fun with hanging around with Angelica - I recommend Buenas Cosas.
We stayed for two weeks and it was amazing! We made coconut oil and learned about medicinal Maya jungle plants. Our Spanish got a lot lot better.
My name is Mary and spent a month at Buenas Cosas. Super fun learning to make my own hammock, eating the food and learning about the Maya culture. Thank you for everything Buenas Cosas.
My name is Robert and I'm from Seattle. Been traveling for two years now - saw this place and I had to try it out and I'm glad I did. My experience here was really wonderful. Out away from the tourist crowds. Great tours. Enjoyed all my time here. Can't recommend this place enough.
We stayed in San Jose for a couple of days and it was amazing! The family with stayed with was so kind to me and my friend and we got to spend some time with them. It was truly an amazing experience to get to visit a local pueblo. Everyone was so nice and so helpful. We spent most of our time swimming in the lake, which was so beautiful and peaceful. Buenas Cosas is a wonderful project, we had a dinner with Memo where we got to learn more about the beautiful things that him, Angelica and many other volunteers do to help the local communities. We also met Angelica who was truly an inspiration. I would definitely like to come back as a volunteer and get involved in one of Buenas Cosas many projects. Highly recommended. Stay there and to enjoy the magic with lovely people. We miss you guys!
Stayed at Buenas Cosas a couple weeks and I really recommend it. Really an interesting experience. A real pleasure, it meant alot to me and am very grateful for the experience.