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Buenas Cosas

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Husbandry, Environment, Food, Garden Clubs, Home Improvement & Repairs, Homeless & Housing, Nutrition

Mission: Buenas Cosas is for travelers, volunteers and the local Maya villages we serve, supporting nature through sustainable community development. Buenas Cosas is a registered Guatemalan non-profit, and a pending 501(c)3, association of family, friends and neighbors who serve their community and nature. Every cent that enters Buenas Cosas goes directly to communities, programs and projects that cultivate Good Things – Buenas Cosas. Travelers, volunteers and their payments support sustainable, eco-happy development in our Partner Communities.

Results: Thousands of travelers and volunteer from 37 different countries have participated with Buenas Cosas Maya beach communities around lake Peten Itza in Guatemala. Thank You All!

Target demographics: Maya communities and nature in Peten Guatemala

Direct beneficiaries per year: Communities and families all around lake Peten Itza

Geographic areas served: Peten Guatemala

Programs: Maya Workshops, Ecotours, Maya Homestays, 3 levels of volunteering and lots more

Community Stories

72 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

AngelaLovesWine

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 1

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.

Trichardsss

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Spent 3 weeks at Buenas Cosas. Great workshops. Great adventures. Great people.

KenVincent

Client Served

Rating: 5

Go to Peten and hang with these people. Good times. Beer at the store up the street is 10Q a liter!!!

SamiandSon

Donor

Rating: 5

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!!!

AriaLWeston

Client Served

Rating: 5

Wow! Huge experience! Recommend Buenas Cosas to anyone, everyone!

DanielT

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great Time! Thanks so much to Angelica and her team. Recommended!

BethanyV

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!

SolielP

Volunteer

Rating: 5

5Stars, no. Buenas Cosas is 6Stars. Buenas Cosas deserves it!!!

ConstanceP

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

AdrianaS

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We had a wonderful time at Buenas Cosas. The Maya workshops and Maya jungle adventures are the best. We got to know many local people in the communities and it's clear this organization is doing good work.

1

Client Served

Rating: 1

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.

Comments ( 1 )

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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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

NicholasdeCanada

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1 BrigithandAlex

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1 maryhamaca

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

RobertintheTreehouse

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

MirellaandFiona

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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!

sallydally

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Maayan4Israel

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It was really nice - it was good - really nice family - enjoy your time - have fun!

DaviddeCanada

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Had a great time I'd recommend it to anybody. It's a great place to stay - lots to do in the community.

jesseyhale

Volunteer

Rating: 5

“Everyone at Buenas Cosas did a little something every day to make our stay a little more enjoyable. We’ll both be coming back again – for sure.”

silkeywannes

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We spent 8 month at Buenas Cosas and it was great.

Volunteer

Rating: 1

I have to admit that I am quite disappointed with Buenas Cosas. I stayed there for two weeks, and while teaching English to the kids was a great experience, I think that Buenas Cosas in itself is a bit of a scam. The website makes it look like a well-organized and highly effective organization, while in reality it's just a small family that rips you off. I went there expecting a great variety of possibilities and encounters with other volunteers, but I found myself alone with a family that is supposedly the organization. I'm not sure that the money we pay as volunteers goes to benefit the kids or the society. Unfortunately, I didn't experience much hospitality. I couldn't help the feeling that I was being ripped off and that this was the way that the family supported themselves, feeding off of the money of the volunteers. Overall, what hurts the most is the dishonesty. I took time off to go and create positive change, yet that was not the aim of Buenas Cosas. It was difficult to accomplish. Their aim is to get as many volunteers as possible to receive as much money as possible so that they can pay for their living expenses and schools. Overall, I feel cheated and I do not recommend it for anyone!

Comments ( 1 )

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Buenas Cosas Good Things 07/25/2016

Aleksandra, es una joven muy imperativa. Estuvo en Buenas Cosas por dos semanas de voluntariado, desde el momento que arribo a Bc fue discutiendo una mejor calidad de comida antes de conocer lo que comemos la familias, ella queria comidas especiales, el primer dia fue saliendo con un su amigo a un tour, no fue compartiendo tiempo con la familia de Buenas Cosas su mayor tiempo en buenas cosas fue en tours con un su amigo guatemalteco de clase social, el tiempo que dedico a buenas cosas fue solo durante las clases de ingles con los niños en la escuela de la comundidad. Es una persona que le gusta utilizar a otros viajeros para que le acompañen a donde quiere ir sin importar que proyectos tengan los voluntarios con la comunidad todo es para ella misma. La familia de Buenas cosas pasabamos por una situacion de perdida de una familiar muy querido, el dia del fueneral de Zaira, regrese del funeral a las 7 por la noche, las palabras de Aleksandra cuando yo estaba entrando fueron "Tengo mucha hambre, puedes preparar cena para mi" estas son las palabras de una voluntaria como Aleksandra no importo el dolor que estaba pasando yo , lo que a ella le importo fue su cena nada mas y eso fue lo que compartimos esa ultima cena con ella, porque otro dia muy temprano sin despedirse salio al aeropuerto a su retorno. No recomendamos por nada a "Aleksandra" para que sirva como voluntaria en asociaciones que trabajen con comunidades haciendo voluntariado porque es una persona totalmente egoista.

RobinRobin

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hi my name is Robin and I’m from Amsterdam. Was at Buenas Cosas for a few weeks and had a really good experience. Got to see what it’s like to live in Guatemala, living with the family. I’d recommend it to anyone.

1 ChiaraAustria

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hello I am Chiara. I'm Eighteen and from Austria. I was at Buenas Cosas for two months in the Good Kids program. I was living with a host family in the village of Belen which is the thirty minute bus ride from the Buenas Cosas' Community Center. My host family was very nice, very polite and especially my Homestay Mom, Blanca. My room was huge. In the beginning, my Good Kids classes were quite chaotic and exhausting. But as soon as I got to know my students better and had a routine, I really enjoyed the lessons and I feel like we've actually made progress which is great. Thank you Buenas Cosas for making this happen.

JaneBuenasCosasRocks

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My time with Buenas Cosas was the best, ever. I participated in the Good Gardens project and I thoroughly recommend Buenas Cosas to everyone.

billnjackie

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We're Bill and Jackie from Canada. Buenas Cosas was fun. It was a lot of fun. We recommend Buenas Cosas. We think Buenas Cosas is fantastic.

SaraTAT

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I’m from Seattle Washington and I did the Good Maya program of the Buenas Cosas. I learned some new things to cook and I learned about some medicine plants. I made a Maya hammock. It was really great to spend time here. The family has been really great I really enjoyed my time here.

AmitAU

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My name is Amit. I am from Australia. I spent two weeks here at Buenas Cosas. I participated in the Good Maya program. I got to learn so many things about traditional Guatemalan culture. I learned how to cook a few different Maya recipes. I also learned traditional plant medicine. I weaved a Maya hammock. It was a really good experience. It was a great imagine into the local culture here. I recommend it - if you're in this part of the world and you've got the time, come and stay at Buenas Cosas.

MaggieWesley

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hi I’m Maggie and I am Wesley. We’re from North Carolina and we’ve been here at Buenas Cosas or a little over a week and it’s been a wonderful time and we took part in the garden program R.V. and worked there for six days and one of the things I really liked was the Spanish lessons awesome. Yes the Spanish lessons every day really helped and listening and understanding and getting to know the family here who they’re all very nice and have been very welcoming and I would suggest this to anyone who wants to do something totally different and really help some people who have a lot of love for their community and for each other and for the volunteers who come here. I would recommend getting out into the barrio and precluding some of the businesses here there’s a lot of little shops that sell a lot of stuff. Yes and I would say I would recommend this to anyone and there’s a lot of the programs that we didn’t take part and we just have a garden but there’s a lot of impact also. Yes yes yes.

1 VeganPastryChef

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hi my name is Ally. I’m from Florida and the United States. On the Good Maya volunteer program I was able to work in various projects with this wonderful family that I recommend anyone to join to learn about traditional Maya foods, medicines and how to make Maya crafts. Thank you.

MichaelfromColorado

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My name's Michael. I'm from Fort Collins Colorado, United States. My time with Buenas Cosas was a really cool experience. I started-off teaching English - got to spend some time with the kids around here and that was a lot of fun. Also spent a lot of time in the garden weeding and working there. It was a really good learning experience. Spent time in the barrio. It was amazing to see how Guatemalans really Live. Spent time with the family. The family are all really great people - really hilarious - there's really good food. It was definitely worth it. I definitely recommend coming to Buenas Cosas. I only spent two weeks. If you have more time, that would be even better. Definitely do it.

1 TravisNewMexico

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hello my name is Travis and I'm from Albuquerque New Mexico in the US. My experience with Buenas Cosas was teaching English at a local school. It was a great experience. I taught English every day. The kids had a lot of energy and that gave me energy. It was a great experience. I'd never taught English before. It was a great learning experience for me and the kids too. I really loved it. Thank you, Buenas Cosas.

MyNameIsScott

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I spent 5 weeks at Buenas Cosas and it was a really good opportunity and I really enjoyed it. Met some really nice people. Peteneros are really nice. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and I'm really glad they had me here. Thank you, Buenas Cosas.

LaceynNeil

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We arrived at Buenas Cosas right before Christmas and they were very welcoming and accomodated our needs for a Language Exchange and a putting us up with a local family. It was very nice. The family stay was really nice. The family was loving and really nice. One of my favorite things was learning how to cook tamales on Christmas - it was really awesome. Gracias Buenas Cosas.

1 WisconsinIsGood

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience with BC was really good. I took care of 50 baby chickens. Helped with the goats was a lots fun. Met people from all over the world. I played with animals every day, that was my goal and it was a great time.

IvanIvan

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Had a great experience with my family and everyone else. Lots of huge hearts at Buenas Cosas. Thank you everyone :)

EvaTraveler

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I participated with the Good Maya project here at Buenas Cosas. It was really fun. I made empanadas, tamalitos, bollitos... a hammock too. An amazing experience. I highly really recommend this project if you're looking for something new. If you want to know anything else, check out the website.

SarahLovesAnimals

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My homestay and my experience with Buenas Cosas was wonderful.

LisafromSweden

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It's been totally beautiful. It's been fantastic. I can really recommend everyone to come here and have a beautiful experience.

isabelandjim

Volunteer

Rating: 5

One of the best organizations we’ve seen. Great family environment. Enjoyed our time here.

tylerme

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My homestay family has been nothing but wonderful. Peace, Love and Buenas Cosas!

Siobhan.from.Canada

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was in San Antonio with Lezvia's family and they were amazing. I learned how to make tortillas and use a machete, which is fun. Was teaching English classes and working in the community gardens and helping around the house.... it was a really good experience and a good look at grass-roots development.

3 Amelia7

Volunteer

Rating: 2

I have written this in my mind many times, but after watching a documentary about GM crops it triggered a strong memory of my time at Buenas Cosas and the fact that I never did get round to writing down my feelings for other volunteers to see.

At its heart I am sure the organisations intends only good things. I just feel it is not putting the volunteers to their best use. I think the police and politics in Guatemala might have more to do with this, however it seems to me that many willing volunteers are coming to work hard, but unfortunately they aren't given the opportunity to do the hard work they wish to do.

The organisation is a lot smaller than it may seem from its online presence. I felt something was up when I filled out a volunteer registration form before my trip and when I hadn't printed out and filled in the form within a month (despite not actually visiting for another 6 months) I had some very angry emails saying I must fill in this form and I couldn't fill it in on the computer I must print it out, hand write it and then scan it. When I said I didn't have a scanner or know anyone with one (or want to spend the fee charged to scan at the library) they seemed determined I was somehow at fault, and were downright nitpicking a simple form.

This wouldn't matter if it hadn't been that they ignored the form altogether. When I arrived I was supposed to also bring a printed copy of the form. By this point I had been robbed in Mexico and it was gone, so they gave me another form to fill out. This was given to me by Angelica, the mother (and co-manager of buenas cosas) who speaks very little English and in my sleepy state on arrival couldn't communicate with me. Obviously this was difficult, and as I had stated the first time on my volunteer sheet, my Spanish was not fluent. I filled it out for the umpteenth time. However this too was ignored as I had wanted and expected to do bikes for good or ovens for good, when really the only project happening was teaching english. I had chosen Buenas Cosas specifically as I didn't want to teach english, something many people can do, and do opt to voluteer in, I wanted to find another way to help people that was just as beneficial as English but was more often overlooked by volunteers- hence the choice of Buenas Cosas. So I was a bit confused to discover I couldn't do that but could watch another volunteer teach English and if I read a few word document pages on their laptop then I too would be qualified to teach English as a foreign language. Obviously I have the advantage of being English, but not speaking Spanish fluently and not having any guidance (other than the document) I didn't feel I was in the position to teach anyone anything.

The 2nd day I went to stay in San Antonio- Carinosa, with a family of 5. They were very nice and sweet, however they spoke no English and my Spanish was getting worse by the day. I think the exasperation of miscommunication left me feeling vulnerable and shy when speaking Spanish and it was difficult to tell if Lesvia (the mother in Carinosa) understood and disagreed or just didn't know what I was saying. Another thing on the volunteer form had asked if you were a vegetarian I had said I was on each form, but when I got to Lesvia's they had killed a chicken and given me some, I was told it was very rude to refuse food and had to try and explain I was a vegetarian and hope not to offend anyone by not eating it. Another situation that could have been helped if they'd passed on my information or read the form.

The family were lovely, but they didn't know what to do with me. I asked every day how could I help, what could I do? In my poor Spanish. Sometimes she would shrug at me, other times she would point at something and I'd not understand. I was told I would teach English there, so I tried to teach her children but only the youngest was keen and we would sit and draw things and annotate them in English and Spanish and teach each other words. After three days I hadn't spoken to anyone from home for over a week and after being robbed at gun point in Mexico my family were worried, they didn't know if I had crossed the border from Mexico to Guatemala safely and I knew I needed to let them know, so I went to the town.

Lesvia told me Angelica wouldn't like me leaving but it was OK. I was confused as to why I wouldn't be welcome to come and go as a volunteer, especially when it was 2pm and I had offered to help three times and was left to do nothing, again. What use was I to them?
I got the collectivo to the market and went to an internet cafe, told my family and friends I was safe and explained the situation. Then I went to get a bus back only to find the bus stop I got off at was not where the buses went back from and no one had heard of carinosa. Luckily I met one man who spoke English, he took me to some police, unfortunately they didn't know carinosa either but took me to the headqaurters-ie Memo and Angelica's house. I was terrified as Lesvia had said Angelica wouldn't be happy. When I arrived they were confused but very nice about the whole thing. I was so relieved to be there, and speak English to the Dutch and Swedish volunteers who were living with the family.

The next morning I was clearly in trouble with Angelica for leaving, she noted what a great voluteer another girl was and how I should be like her and so on. All in Spanish, but I could understand some of it. I held my ground and in the words I knew tried to say that I had to tell my parents I was ok, and as a volunteer I am free to go when I need to. And if I had had the opportunity again I would have gone, but written down the address first, which in all fairness, she should have given me before I left. This model volunteer later admitted to me she would have left her host family too if she'd known how.

I felt a little better going back having communicated with two volunteers and knowing I would see them at the weekend and one of them would join the host family with me the week after, though I was concerned for him as his Spanish was worse than mine.

The next two days were slow, I continued offering help, I watched the woman cook and they seemed confused as to why I was watching them, I wish I could have explained that I keep offering to work but there is nothing to do so the best way I can cope is to watch you and hope I learn something.

At the weekend I told Angelica I had no children to teach and asked where they were. She didn't respond. The Swedish volunteer joined me in the second week and I was pleased for him that I was there too as I don't think either of us would have gone if the other weren't there. He was there to WWOOF. They don't do WWOOFing so I was confused why they were found on a WWOOFing site. Apparently Memo claimed to have contacted WWOOF and asked to be removed as they weren't WWOOFing farm, but that hadn't happened. This surprised me as WWOOF are a well known and respected organisation and have represented all over the world. I will contact them regarding this matter.

They gave us some seeds to plant at Lesvia's house. I do not know if these were organic, but I do hope so. The father used pesticides to kill weeds, the family burnt plastic on the fire and threw other rubbish over the fence into nearby trees. I think education on these things is vital in these communities. Memo told us the main cause of death in older women is fumes from bad ovens, so why are they not telling host families that burning plastic on their ovens and using pesticides is also bad for them and their potential crops?

The main problem I've yet to note is water. There is no clean water at Lesvia's house. When I was at the main house I said, is that water ok to drink? It's in a bucket and they get it from a hose from a tap connected to a lake/resevoir near their house. Angelica said it was fine, but another volunteer (the model volunteer) took water to the homestay she was at. I asked Lesvia and she said it was fine. Having been robbed of many items in Mexico (as I mentioned), I didn't have any water purification tablets. Following a couple of very hot days finally doing some work (yes!!!- preparing the soil and then sewing seeds!) I drank a lot of this water, as did my fellow volunteer. I was then ill for three days. I didn't move from bed for an entire day on the first day and didn't eat for three days.
I was incredibly ill when I came back to the UK and I am still ill now. I can't say it was the water, however I cannot think of anything else causing such illness, additionally I had only been drinking bottled water before this point, but was running low on money and had been told twice the water was OK.

There is a lot more to say, but if you've read through this then I think you'll understand it was a mixed bag and there are good ideas but they just aren't implemented properly. If they looked at the volunteers coming and similar interests and abilities they could use them for a purpose to do a good project whilst there. Instead everyone did different things. One volunteer was studying construction but was teaching English, another was building a stove for Angelica's mother, but knew nothing about building.

Building the stove was a great idea and we were asked to contribute to materials, we were willing to, however when I was asked a 2nd time I felt threatened. I don't like being forced to do anything. Another thing which concerned me was that this was all still within the organising family. Yes, Angelica's mother deserves a clean stove and is in the community, but what about the wider community, or is it just their friends and family who are helped by the project?

I was supposed to stay for three weeks but only stayed for two. I emailed my brother who said I should leave and at the weekend when I could use a computer I explained I couldn't afford to go a week earlier and he sent me money so I could travel for an extra week before flying home. I was very thankful to him for that as I don't know what I'd have done another week there.

Lesvia and her family have two tiny malnourished dogs which was I think the most heart-wrenching thing of the entire experience. These dogs were too ill to sit down their legs shook and if they came near you the stench was unbelievable. They were kicked if they came too close and they clearly so rarely eat that when they did it looked like an ordeal for them. I found one of them asleep on the fire and thought maybe it was trying to kill itself. It was so sad.

I hope they can make some improvements and maybe just get the website to explain that there is only really the teaching english project on at the moment. I think getting a volunteer coordinator would be a good idea.

Good luck to Angelica, Memo, and their family, I am sure they will find a way to adapt the infrastructure to be able to help volunteers to do the best work possible.

Comments ( 3 )

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Buenas Cosas Good Things 07/14/2014

We've published a page at our site to respond to Amelia's review...

http://www.buenascosas.org/ameliasqueja

Peace, Love and Buenas Cosas :)

profile

Buenas Cosas Good Things 07/14/2014

We've published a page at our site to respond to Amelia's review...

http://www.buenascosas.org/ameliasqueja

Peace, Love and Buenas Cosas :)

profile

Buenas Cosas Good Things 07/14/2014

We've published a page at our site to respond to Amelia's review...

http://www.buenascosas.org/ameliasqueja

Peace, Love and Buenas Cosas :)

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We had a great experience. It was so beautiful and fun.

TessFromIsrael

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We just finished two weeks at Buenas Cosas with a homestay in San Antonio. It was a really cool and interesting experience. Thanks for everything :)

JanefromBC

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I highly recommend this place. The family is great. The community is amazing. And, you'll love it here.

AlisafromGermany

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It was alot of fun. It’s amazing to see what Buenas Cosas can do with such a low-budget. Amazing. I really enjoyed it. I’ll always come back again.

Volunteer

Rating: 2

I have waited many months before writing this review because I wanted to make sure I was being as unbiased as possible and that I was only sharing information that I thought other potential volunteers would find helpful. I have had time to reflect on the experience I had there and acknowledge that it was an absolute, life-changing journey, and also that there were a lot of road bumps and things that make me question volunteering there again.

So in rating, two stars literally means "below expectations", and that is how I felt working with Buenas Cosas was for me. It seemed on their website that this was a well-organized non-profit, with high credibility, a multitude of volunteers, and plenty of volunteer & ecotourism opportunities. However, I did not experience most of what the website made me believe I would.

I think when you are told it is only $70 a week for this volunteer program (can't remember exactly, but I know it's significantly cheaper than other volunteer programs), you expect to come in to a grassroots level organization, without a lot of capacity for hosting multiple volunteers at a time, or the ability to provide more than the bare minimal. But then you visit the website and it is portrayed as a luxurious, overly-supportive nonprofit that hosts ecotourism trips every weekend and has structured volunteer opportunities. Both types of programs are enjoyable and life-changing, but when you are perceived as the latter and instead are more like the first, volunteers will be sorely disappointed and feel slightly hoodwinked.

It is not my intention to "bash" this organization. In hindsight, if the website had portrayed things differently then I would've known what I was signing-up for and would've felt much more comfortable. The other components of my volunteer experience were more than enjoyable! I loved the host family I stayed with, I enjoyed teaching the children in the barrio English, I loved going to church with the family, going on little excursions to their friends' houses, and climbing mangoe trees, and basically everything else that I got to experience!

I just think it's important to know ahead of time the environment you are going in to if you are a volunteer. The water I drank was from the lake, so it would've been important for me to know to bring water cleansing tablets. My host family's home was a fairly long bus ride away from the Buenas Cosas homebase, so there wasn't really time for me to hangout there, and there weren't other volunteers so there wouldn't have been any reason to anyways. My host family did not have running water (part of my own ignorance, although the website I think mentioned Buenas Cosas had running water, so I just assumed). I was not given an exact volunteer "mission", but rather had to find something that matched my skill set. Again, all of these things are totally fine with me, I just know I would've liked to know ahead of time so I thought I'd share in hopes that I would help someone else know ahead of time.

Comments ( 3 )

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Buenas Cosas Good Things 11/13/2013

Who are you and why have you posted anonymously? 1 - All our homestays have running water. Pumps do break and water may not be available sometimes. But that is entirely beyond our control. 2 - No one drinks tapwater here, unless you want to get sick. We supply all homestays with filtered clean drinking water - always. 3 - We have no participation opportunities for $70 per week. 4 - We offer ecotourism opportunities as they are requested. We're not salesmen, nor are we tour guides, nor psychic. Again, who are you and why did you post this anonymously? Peace, Love and Buenas Cosas!

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Buenas Cosas Good Things 11/13/2013

Who are you and why have you posted anonymously? 1 - All our homestays have running water. Pumps do break and water may not be available sometimes. But that is entirely beyond our control. 2 - No one drinks tapwater here, unless you want to get sick. We supply all homestays with filtered clean drinking water - always. 3 - We have no participation opportunities for $70 per week. 4 - We offer ecotourism opportunities as they are requested. We're not salesmen, nor are we tour guides, nor psychic. Again, who are you and why did you post this anonymously? Peace, Love and Buenas Cosas!

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Buenas Cosas Good Things 11/13/2013

Who are you and why have you posted anonymously? 1 - All our homestays have running water. Pumps do break and water may not be available sometimes. But that is entirely beyond our control. 2 - No one drinks tapwater here, unless you want to get sick. We supply all homestays with filtered clean drinking water - always. 3 - We have no participation opportunities for $70 per week. 4 - We offer ecotourism opportunities as they are requested. We're not salesmen, nor are we tour guides, nor psychic. 5 - We are honest with everyone, and that goes for our website too. Please, do us all a favor, point to one single inaccuracy any where on our website. Point to one single thing that validates your claims of dishonesty. Again, who are you and why did you post this anonymously? Peace, Love and Buenas Cosas!

1 Naomi.The.Ozzie

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Good work that I enjoyed, stay an extra week, recommend it!

1 YvonneFromSwitzerland

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Really great time, beautiful place to stay! Peace, Love and Buenas Cosas :0)

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Memo at Buesas Cosas has responded to many of my questions as a concerned parent with a loved one traveling to Guatemala. The transparency and honesty of Buesas Cosas is a welcome relief to some reviews of organizations including Buesas Cosas. I look forward to my daughter participating and making a difference while contributing to the important work for Buesas Cosas and Guatemala.

Paul

2

Client Served

Rating: 1

Be very careful about this organization and the area of which it is located. While Memo was very prompt and thorough in his email responses, he disregarded the dangers of bus travel within Guatemala and thus my son almost ignorantly bussed through what has been described my Guatemalan friends as, "dangerous territory". We did a lot of research with Guatemala and it is not safe to take an 8 hour bus ride through it. Please check the State Department web site.
My son has picked another organization that has a better reputation and they provided transportation. Buenas Cosas is not a 501C, there are so many organizations that are a 501C, so why pick one that is not tax deductible.
We contacted some unhappy clients and friends that live in Guatemala and they had not heard of this program and they were VERY against traveling by bus through Guatemala, especially for a non-Guatemalan who has never been there before.
I am a parent and if you are a parent please check the safety issues very carefully.
Additionally, I find it disturbing and strange that Memo would publish our full names and the University my son attends (below). I agree with Memo on one thing actually: Those "85 emails" tell the truth. Feel free to message me with any questions or feel the need to verify I am a real, honest person. I can show you the emails as well.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had such a fabulous time in my short (unfortunately only two weeks; wish it could have been longer) working with Buenas Cosas. Part of the time I stayed with a family in one of the communities outside San Benito called San Miguel. Staying in the home of Lesvia, her husband, and their four warm and wonderful kids was one of the highlights of my time spent in all the countries of Central America! I've become an expert at making tortillas! (No, that's not all I did there!!)
While I was staying in the home of Angelica, Memo, and their great kids, I got to do something really incredible. I have always had this thing about goats. Don't know why, but I love them. The day I arrived, one of the goats had a baby. For some reason, the baby wasn't taking milk from the mother. So it was my job to milk the mother directly into a baby bottle, and then feed the baby goat from the bottle!!! It was AMAZING!! You don't get those kinds of opportunities staying in hostels all the time. So I can't recommend Buenas Cosas enough, for a different kind of travel experience, that you can really feel good about.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 1

I certainly do not recommend anyone to volunteer at Buenos Cosas. Aside from the fact I was accused of being a spy (!!!) and treated appallingly, as far as I could tell all they are interested in is getting your money.

Online, Buenos Cosas appeared an excellent program. I was informed via email that throughout the six weeks of my planned time volunteering for Buenos Cosas I would be able to spend time in the five different projects I was interested in. I was told I would have to pay a higher price - the 'Grande' level - to ensure my choices would definitely be available when I arrived, and if for any reason they would not be available I would be fully refunded.

When I arrived I asked on several occasions to hear more about the projects. The only English speaking organiser, Memo, kept putting me off until it got to the time my volunteering was supposed to start. He then took me to one side and interrogated me as to why I wanted to know about the projects. I found this absurd considering I had paid a higher amount to make choices. I was then accused (in all seriousness) by Memo of being a spy. From then on Memo completely refused to talk to me, even going to the extent of preventing me from talking and playing with his children and pets and going so far as to drag them away from me. Accusing someone of spying on a charitable organisation is beyond me, unless of course there was something to make you feel extremely paranoid about.

At this point my Spanish was rather limited, having only just arrived. Memo's wife spoke no English, apparently Memo “can't be bothered” to teach her and so my only option was to ask another volunteer to translate for me. It turned out that the only up and running project was Organic Gardening. I would be able to learn Spanish, as I had been previously told via email, but this would be through their teenage daughter who clearly had no interest in teaching me. The unlimited free internet as promised as part of the 'Grande' package did not exist. Consequently I was unable to let family know that I had arrived safely. The only time volunteers were able to use the internet (available on one computer) was for two hours each evening. This was over the time dinner was served, and also after dark. I was informed that it was not safe to leave the compound alone once it got dark and as I was not staying there, I had no opportunity whatsoever to access the interent.
I was told I would not be entitled to any of my money back and that basically I had paid and signed the contract so I could either stay or go but not complain!

Needless to say I tried to avoid spending time at the compound and spent time with a Guatemalan family for the first week. This was a homestay organised through Buenos Cosas and was the one good thing I experienced about the place – they were absolutely wonderful. The second week did not hold up to the supposed ‘Organic Gardening’ project I had read about. The organic gardening turned out to involve us simply planting a few seeds, and raking leaves on Memo's newly bought property. These tasks took two hours at most to complete, when we had paid, and were willing to volunteer for at least four hours a day. Not one person checked up on us over the two weeks, and Memo again showed no interest when we (myself and another volunteer) returned back to the compound. He was asked by his wife to speak to us when we wanted to know what other work we could do. I was then threatened by Memo telling me that I had "five minutes to get off his property". At this point I decided to forget about the money I had paid and just leave.

Aside from the things I have written above, I was lied to on multiple occasions in order to ensure I was out of the way; I was ignored; and I was thoroughly insulted. I have spent a lot of time travelling and volunteering for many different and organisations and have never once come across someone such as Memo. I really, really do not advise anyone to ‘volunteer’ through Buenos Cosas. There are many other organisations through which you can arrange volunteering in Flores when you arrive if you want to do so, and no matter what these may be like, I am left in little doubt that they must be better than Buenos Cosas.

Comments ( 2 )

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Buenas Cosas Good Things 03/26/2013

We will not address the libelous nonsense in Melanie Telford's 'review'. There's no need, our real participants are more than happy to share the truth about their sincere participation with Buenas Cosas and verify the good things we're doing here in Guatemala http://www.BuenasCosas.org/references ... Peace, Love and Buenas Cosas | Buenas Cosas | Serving Community & Nature | http://www.BuenasCosas.org | Registered Guatemalan Non-Profit | US 501(c)3 In-Process

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Buenas Cosas Good Things 03/26/2013

http://www.BuenasCosas.org/references ... Peace, Love and Buenas Cosas | Buenas Cosas | Serving Community & Nature | http://www.BuenasCosas.org | Registered Guatemalan Non-Profit | US 501(c)3 In-Process

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It´s not easy to put in words how much I appreciate all that you guys have done for me and for many others. What a special family! You are my Guatemalan family – teaching me all about Guatemala and Buenas Cosas! Super cool, warm, funny, happy and creative. Love you and miss you.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Buenas Cosas is Tan Bonita. Great ideas and an ambitious project. They do a lot of good things for their local community. Great people always ready to help.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Buenas Cosas is a fantastic project. They have many interesting ideas going on in the communities of Peten Guatemala.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Wonderful and generous bunch. An experience we won’t soon forget! They deeply care for their community.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had an incredible time at Buenas Cosas! The entire family was so full of life and they were always having a good time, cooking great food, or helping out around the community. Gracias por todo, fue un placer quedarme con tu familia!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Buenas Cosas was warm, inviting and excellent. I was able to volunteer and work within their community on top of all the amazing home cooked meals I had. I wish the family and the group the best of luck in the future! Great experience!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Memo, Angelica and everybody at Buenas Cosas are friendly and welcoming. I was looking for a place to stay near Flores as all the travelers seem to talk about Flores. However, I had an infinitely better time with Buenas Cosas than I would have if I had stayed in a hotel or hostel in Flores! Through Buenas Cosas Language Exchange Program my Spanish improved considerably and I got to meet many people and do many things I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Buenas Cosas lives up to it’s name. I only have Buenas Cosas to say about Memo, Angelica y familia! My stay was short but filled with lots of smiles. I have a lot of respect and admiration for the huge projects they are undertaking.