“Guate,” or Guatemala City, has a less-than-great reputation; however, the city does have the potential to be a fruitful place to live. Within walking distance of the school are three large malls, several grocery stores, a fresh produce market, a bowling alley, and a collection of good restaurants. Also, the school is on the city’s 101 bus route, which takes you to all the best places in town: Zona Viva, a series of restaurants, bars, and shops; Cuatro Grados Norte, a new pedestrian area with outdoor seating and weekend markets; and Zone One, the historic district that houses Parque Central, the presidential palace, artisan stalls, and arcades (Great deals on DVDs!). In addition, OLC has a team in a local soccer league and is involved with Camino Seguro and Las Manos de Christine (local educational NGOs that work with impoverished children in the city).
Where to eat . . .
Several restaurants are within walking distance of the school (5 minutes or less).
If you exit OLC and go left, La Pradera (a large mall/shopping centre) has a big food court with a plethora of fast food joints, including Mexican, pizza, salads, sandwiches, bagels, chicken, burgers, and coffee shops. Before reaching La Pradera, to the left, there is a McDonald's. A little past La Pradera and across the street, there is an open-air shopping center with a couple of nicer restaurants, i.e. sushi and Mediterranean food. Should you wish to just buy some groceries, La Pradera also houses a large grocery store, Pais, where you can get just about any product you desire.
If you exit OLC and go right, you will find a bakery across the street, several tiendas (little stores), and some comedors (small, local eateries). Specifically, if you take the first right off of 20 Calle (the street on which Oxford resides), there is a much frequented comedor, Karen's, midway down the street on the left (It is both a store and a restaurant). In addition, beyond the couple of blocks of tiendas and comedors lies an enormous PriceSmart, which has a little sit down fast food place, as well as an ice cream stand outside.
Often, because classes tend be slim around lunchtime, a group of colleagues, or at least a couple, will most likely be headed out to eat, so you can always throw yourself at their mercy and beg for companionship. Most of the Oxford staff are fairly accommodating and friendly.
Where to get supplies . . .
Much like food, teachers also often need supplies, and Oxford is aware of this. So, we have strategically situated our school amongst a conglomeration of useful stores. To the right, a few minutes beyond PriceSmart, one can find a full-sized Office Depot with all the amenities any office outlet anywhere would have. Additionally, and to the left of Oxford, La Pradera has several book stores (some, though limited, English books available), as well as a kid's shop on the penultimate floor. Lastly, in the open-air shopping center (with the sushi and Mediterranean restaurants), there is an art shop called . . . something.
For long hauls . . .
Should you find yourself with larger pockets of vacant time, a bowling alley/pool hall (Fun Plaza) is across 19 Calle from La Pradera. Just beyond La Pradera, on 20 Calle, World's Gym can cater to any fitness needs you may acquire. Then, if you choose to brave the buses, there is a bus stop just down street from Oxford, where you can hop on the 101 and, within minutes, be at a fresh fruit and vegetable market or Cemaco (another mall with a sort of Wal-Mart like shop at the center) or Proceres (a huge, very modern mall with nice open areas to sit or eat). Just behind Proceres, Zona Viva is a bit of tourist hotspot, with clean, safe, pedestrian-friendly streets, nice shops, and gobs of restaurants and pubs. If you stay on the bus a little longer, when turns onto La Reforma (a big avenue in the heart of Zona 10, there is a park (the median) that has some nice trees and paths to walk on, and it also includes a large plaza with benches and arches and such (Obelisco).
Bus Route 101
While some caution is required when using the local buses (don't carry anything more valuable than a cheap cell phone and don't get on after dark), the 101 bus is relatively safe and very useful to those without vehicles. You can catch the bus either at La Pradera on 20 calle or outside PriceSmart on 20 calle, both of which are only a couple of blocks away from Oxford. The bus fare, no matter where your destination is, is between one quetzal and one-and-a-quarter quetzales, depending on the day and time, and this bus takes you to just about all of the places one would want to go in Guate. So, without further adieu, beginning with the destinations closest to Oxford, this is what's available:
Strangely enough, Guatemala City's garbage dump is quite an attraction and one that few people probably venture to see. The dump is the largest in Central America, and it functions as a work site (gathering recyclable material) for a large amount of people, who also live in it. The dump has victimized thousands of people with unpredictable landslides and fires, so in the early 2000s, the Guatemalan government made it illegal for children to work in the dump, creating a large problem for the parents who could no longer work and care for their children at the same time. Enter Camino Seguro, a school dedicated to providing these impoverished children with a place to be, hot lunches, and educational reinforcement. Las Manos de Christine is an organization founded by Oxford's own Bryant Hand, and the program is focused on introducing these children to English, with the goal of eventually helping them to reach a fluency capable enough to afford them the opportunity to go to university. From Antigua, one can take an extensive and informative tour of the city dump and Camino Seguro, or if you inquire at Oxford, Bryant or someone from the staff can help you arrange to take the tour from Guatemala City.
Click here to return to the main jobs page.