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Study Spanish on the Road - One Week and Weekend Spanish Study Tours near Puerto Vallarta

TOURS

If you speak the Spanish language even just a bit and know some of the basics, you'll be coached on simple sentence structures and the short cuts, and provided with new vocabulary to practice conversational Spanish in the field.

One Week Tours Summary

1. Pátzcuaro, Michoacán (near Morelia, 3 hrs southeast of Guadalajara) Map
A . Lago de Pátzcuaro - Cultural, History and Nature Tour
B.
Day of the Dead Tour – Famous night vigil at cemeteries, and family ceremonies with visiting souls of family. Visits of regional pyramids and artisans.
C. Pátzcuaro
Culture and Monarch Butterfly Wintering – Tour of highlights of Pátzcuaro including pyramid ruins, artisans (potters, hat makers, wood mask carvers, copper crafts, etc.). Two hours east in higher forests, the Monarch butterflies hibernate at El Rosario Forest Reserve.

2. Mountain Villages Tour (1 to 3 hrs east of Puerto Vallarta) Map
San Sebastian del Oeste
– heritage mining village, designated Pueblo Mágico in 2011, villages above, short walk to Bufa Mountain peak. Then one hour away is the rich agricultural valley of Mascota rich in archaeological treasures ( petroglyphs, National Geographic museum), and above unique traditions of the higher mountain villages (energy healer discovered magnetic center in Yerbabuena, broom-making in Juanacatlán , earthen oven bakery in Navidad ). Near Mascota is Talpa de Allende – sighting of the Virgin of Guadalupe in 1600s brings pilgrims.

3. Coastal San Blas – Nature Tour, Mangrove Estuaries, Surf, Beaches (with Culture Option) ( 3 hrs N of Puerto Vallarta). Map
Fine sand beaches stretch forever – great walking, beach combing, birding. Great surf where many Mexican nationals train. Boat tours of mangrove swamps and estuary channels full of birds, crocodiles, other wildlife like the occasionally seen jaguar. A friendly Mexican town set in a nature lover´s paradise. Cultural tour options (1 hr distant ): include Huichol village o f Zitacua in Tepic and/or Mexcaltitán, the island of the Mexica people, who wandered 300 years and settled in the valley of Mexico and became th e Aztecs.

4. Coastal San Blas and Mountain Villages Tour (Combined 2 & 3) See both in a week with added day stops at the beaches of Destiladeras and Sayulita .

Weekend Tours Summary

1. San Sebastian del Oeste –Mountain Tour Map
Quaint mountain villages of San Sebastian and Real de Alto, former mining glory, high in pine/oak forests, spectacular views from Mt. Bufa, hikes along Rio San Sebastian to old hacienda, preserved culture in “Pueblo Mágico” status (2 days,1 night)

2. Botanical Gardens of Las Juntas y Los Veranos, Tuito village, Villa Azalea Organic Farm & Inn, Cajón de Peñas Lake Map
Gardens, hiking trails, river swim at Botanical Gardens, visit to Tuito town square, Arrive Villa Azalea Organic Farm (lunch), Cajón de Peñas lake for fishing or hiking. 1-2 hours south of Puerto Vallarta ( Optional: overnight at Villa Azalea or Tuito) (1-2 days, overnight)

3. Shopping Get-Aways Map
Puerto Vallarta downtown and boutiques of Sayulita (1 day)

4. Sayulita Map
Surfing, Beaches, Hiking, Birding, Shopping, Night-life, Archaeological site and Petroglyphs (2 days, 1 night)


ONE WEEK TOURS

1. PATZCUARO (One Week) – Departure from Puerto Vallarta (or airport pick-up in Guadalajara )

Patzcuaro Cafes in the portal of the Plaza GrandePurepechan indigenous people still inhabit the high mountain plateaus southeast of Guadalajara. Over 125,000 still speak their native language, dress in traditional dress, dance and sing their own songs. They also produce arts and crafts unique to each village www.Pátzcuaro.com . They were the only neighboring kingdom not to be conquered by the Aztec Empire. There are still ruins of the ceremonial temples of the city states. Pátzcuaro has a huge central market. It is located 3 hrs south of Guadalajara and a half hour from Morelia . It is internationally famous for its Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations on November 1st (All Saints Eve), and on October 31 st, Día de Los Angelitos (the deceased children).

Day 1 & 2 - We'll head there through the Sierra Madre mountains east of Puerto. Then travel along the southern shores of Lake Chapala, with an overnight and morning in the town of Ajijic. We'll enjoy the cool air in thermal baths and spa on the lake. Optional: pick up in Guadalajara.

• Option A – Lago de Pátzcuaro Tour - Days 3-5. Each morning we'll study an hour of Spanish phrases and vocabulary. We'll tour of Pátzcuaro and many interesting local villages around the lake to view arts, crafts and local geographic and cultural features (eg. Ancient Ruins of Ihuatzio and Tzintzuntzan, handmade Sombreros in Jarácuaro, wooden Mask Carvers in Tócuaro, hammed copper crafts in Santa Clara del Cobre, the natural lake region of Lago de Zirahuén, potters in various villages, the 1943 Volcano Paricutín, and/or participate in various local festivals (see Teacher's Journal at www.talkadventures.com for description and photos – Feb 2008, Oct 2007, May 2007). Also see www.Pátzcuaro.com for general info re: Pátzcuaro.

(Day 6-7) Return to the coast with stops at villages on Lake Chapala, and potters villages, overnight in San Luis Soyatlán on Lake Chapala.

Costs - 7 nights (Inquire re: dates) - $700 p.p.

Option B - Patzcuaro Day of the Dead Tour - Days 1-2 (drive and lakeside visits as per above). Day 3 - After breakfast and Spanish class, we'll tour Patzcuaro town and market on foot. In the afternoon we'll visit the Island of Janitzio, famous home of fishermen and climb the monumental statue to Morelos, priest and leader of the War of Independence. Day 4 - Visit the Purepechan native ruins of Ihuatzio and Tzintzuntzan . Lunch stop at the ancient Santa Ana Franciscan Monastery now a museum, built in 1525 and the ancient gardens. A local anthropologist will details features of the ruins. We´ll hear what we can expect in the events of Day of the Dead.

Day 5 – Circumnavigate the lake to visit local villages and islands of Pacanda and Tecuén, as they prepare their household altars and offerings for th eir candlelit night vigil to await their visiting spirits of their loved ones. The night of Los Muertos, we'll visit a few of the cementeries as the families dress the altars and leave offerings to prepare for the overnight vigil. Then we'll visit the dance and song festivities in Jaracuaro, where unique dances and music are celebrated. Nearby we attend the candlelight vigil at Arocutín, an ancient cemetery at the flanks of an old temple, still standing, with bells pealing the hour for the nightlong vigil. Days 6-7 (as above)

Costs 7 Nights- Oct 28-Nov 3, 2012 - $700 p.p.

Monarch Butterfly in El Rosario wintering area – MichoacanOption C - Patzcuaro and Monarch Butterflies Winter Sanctuary - Days 1 & 2 (as above ). We'll plan 4 nights and visit the many villages with ancient ruins, and distinctive arts and crafts particular to each village. It's a region rich in stories and glories, that have to be experienced. We'll drive 2 hours to visit Anguangueo and El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Reserve and the adjacent Pueblo Magico of Tlalpujahua (2 nights). The millions of butterflies are just waking up, mating and heading back north. An impossible journey, another Mexican miracle. We'll return through the mountains with stops along Lake Chapala, and various mountain communities.

Costs : 7 Nights - Feb 4 – March 2, 2013 - 7 nights $ 750 p.p. Inquire for other dates

 

2. MOUNTAIN VILLAGES – San Sebastian, Mascota and Talpa de Allende (and higher villages):
(One Week) Dec 9 to 16 th, 2012;  March 10- 17 th, 2012  or Inquire for other dates

Just 70 km east of Puerto Vallarta in the pine-clad high mountains, lies San Sebastian del Oeste. From 1609 to 1920, a wealthy mining community; today with less than 1000 people, it retains the cobble and clay tiled charm, tranquility and the magic of Mexican village life. Newly designated a Pueblo Mágico in 2012! En-route we visit the artisanal distillery of the best regional tequila and raicilla at Destilería Hacienda Jalisco, see their distilling process and sample their products. We'll view the river depths from the new El Progreso bridge built over the hundreds of meters deep canyon nearby.

In San Sebastian we'll stay in Hotel del Puente, with thick adobe walls, ancient timbers, covered inner courtyard of fruit trees and flowers. Each morning, after one hour of study over breakfast, we'll set out on Activities: tour the church, museum and colonial landmarks, walk narrow trails along the river and cobbled streets which wind through the village. We'll hike the trail along the San Sebastian River to the Hacienda Jalisco , a historic hacienda, now a B&B (haunted!) and former ore processing center for a tour of the famous site, also frequented by John Houston, and owned by friends. The central zocalo or plaza attracts lots of locals and visitors enjoying the sun and local cafes; great people watching on a Sunday.

The surrounding forests of pine and oak lead to Real Alto, a village 3,000 ft higher, with 50 people and a 17 th Century church. Features: Locals sell dried fruits (cajetas, jaleas), and fruit liquors (ponches), a drive to the peak of Mt. Bufa (2,600m, 8,500 ft) offering impressive vistas as far as the ocean, and San Sebastian below.

Mascota ( 15,000 people).Its richness was not silver or gold, but the fertile green agricultural valley.

We'll tour:

• The National Geographic sponsored Anthropology Museum (curated by American archaeologist who dedicated life's study to the area, Dr. Joseph Mountjoy); * stroll to nearby petroglyphs still preserved in a farmer's field.  

• A local guide walks us through the streets to reveal the town's fascinating history captive in “home museums” – patios and gardens of local Mascotans!  

Yerbabuena Healing Magnetic Center fifteen minutes from Mascota, 

• Navidad, a 16th Century mining settlement of 200 people, with earth-oven bakery, old mill – a jewel of the mountains with low tourism numbers and rich culture.  

• Visit to small farming village of Juanacatlán to visit friends who make brooms from grass roots and local woods. We'll try our hand in helping out. Option: Overnight Stay: Share stories, food and authentic broom-crafting experience with home stay hosts.  

• A half hour away we´ll tour the Sierra Lago resort at Lago Juanacatlán - lake with waterfowl, picturesque lakeside trail, sculptures, a chapel and landscaped grounds.

On Day Six we arrive in Talpa de Allende with its Basilica to Our Lady of the Rosary of Talpa, to honour sighting of the Virgin here in the 1640s. It's one of the most visited sites in Jalisco state for religious pilgrimages; peak visitation of up to one million in mid-September pilgrimage. We'll tour : * the church and town's sites with a Ministry of Tourism guide: * the miracle-performing Virgin del Rosario in the Cathedral, * the first temple of the Virgin, the museum of the virgen's vestments, * candied guayaba fruit leather factories, *market stands for other regional products, * riverside stroll

(Two nights) San Sebastian; (Three nights) Mascota; optional ( one night) in Juanacatlán, (1 night) – Talpa de Allende).

Cost: 7 Nights –$650 p.p.

 

3. COASTAL BEACHES & MANGROVE ESTUARIES –San Blas – Nature Tour on Rio Tovar, Sayulita- Beaches/Jungle Hike (Optional: Indigenous Culture)

Three hours north of Puerto Vallarta is San Blas, a very laid-back, vibrant Mexican community, with low international tourism, but a favorite of the Guadalajara and Tepic nationals. Once a military fort and port with 30,000 people, the port was closed in the late 1800s and now supports a lively community of 15,000 people. Located on a tongue of land between two estuaries, the southern edge on the ocean, this area is renowned for its beaches, the wetlands and coastal plain and the natural wildlife it supports. It has a market which calls most locals early to shop and eat, and adjacent a large square block plaza with vendors, shows, cafes, filled till late night.

Among the features to experience:

• Historic sites and views from Cerro de San Basilio, the original hill-top settlement, and the ruins of the 18th Century Fort “La Contaduría”. Historic structure of the Temple of the Virgin of the Rosary. A great viewpoint over town and coastline.

• The miles-long fine sand beaches. El Borrego, in town, is dotted with many seafood restaurants and great surfing, and beaches to the south.

• Hiking, bird-watching and beach-combing on the sandy Isla del Rey (King Island) across the channel (estero) from the town. Many flocks of birds congregate on the sand shores. Great flat walking/jogging, beach combing for shells, feathers, photography hikes. The Huichol Indians from Tepic and other settlements in the region, visit frequently for weddings, baptisms, healing ceremonies, and leave offerings at a temple and cave nearby, and on the shoreline to Goddess of the Sea, Aramara.

• Boat tour up the Tovar River through the mangrove swamp to see a host of exotic birds, crocodiles, turtles, with even a chance of viewing a jaguar. Swim in crystal clear Tovara springs, and enjoy exceptional cuisine here for lunch. Option of viewing large crocodiles at the Cocodrilario , along with other adopted, abandoned or rescued animals (eg. jaguar, deer, peccaries, etc.).

Indigenous Cultural Tour - Day Visit

•  Option 1 – Huichol village in Tepic (1 day ) – We'll visit the artesan's market in the central Plaza of Tepic, where Huichol indigenous natives appear in traditional dress. We'll visit Zitacua, their community and outdoor market, meet artists, tour the village and shop for unique art work. Visit the Museum of Four People in the centre for features of regional indigenous cultures.

•  Option 2 - Mexcaltitán – the original island of the Mexica people who roamed three hundred years before settling in the Mexico valley and developed the Aztec culture. There's a great museum explaining the evidence of the migration of the Mexicas from here. Only three square blocks, it's an easy walk to view the old church and plaza, the quaint brightly colored houses, and their unique cargo bicycles, and stop for a good seafood feed at the restaurants at the shoreline.

Sayulita and Nayarit beaches – The coastal road in the State of Nayarit from San Blas to Puerto Vallarta is rich with various beaches. The most exquisite is Destiladeras, on the north shore of the Bay of Banderas; white sand beaches, crystalline cobbled stones, crystal clear water and endless walking opportunities. Sayulita is a destination beach of many international visitors and is the destination of preference for many Mexicans. Famous for its variety of little coves easily accessed on foot, each with distinctive pleasures to be found: surfing, beach combing, swimming, people watching, and enjoying the cafés, shops and galleries at seaside, among the many. We'll hike in the jungle following the coast, and inland to see very different bird and wildlife than in the San Blas area. Nearby are the Los Altos Archaeological Site and Petroglyphs for an interesting cultural diversion.

Costs: 7 Nights – San Blas (4 day/ nights), Sayulita (2 days/nights), Cruz de Huanacaxtle (1 night). $650 ($700 for Option1 or 2);


WEEKEND STUDY TOURS

1. MOUNTAIN TOUR - “Pueblo Mágico” - San Sebastian Del Oeste , Mexico

(Come celebrate San Sebastian Saint's Day January 20, 2013)

In a weekend, we'll drive the 70 km from Puerto Vallarta up the winding mountain road to San Sebastian del Oeste, the centre of 300 years of silver mining. A small village, with beautiful Spanish colonial architecture, and nestled in the green pine and oak hills. We'll spend 1 night and 2 days in the village and environs, including: a day trip up to Real Alto, 3000 ft higher, a village of 50 people, mostly related and an unusually high density of mariachi band members; a drive and short hike to Mt. Bufa – highest regional point with astonishing views; a stop at Haciendo Jalisco Distillery (artisanal Tequila and Raicilla); a hike along Rio San Sebastian to Hacienda Jalisco (restored Hacienda and former ore processing plant)

Weekend $ 175 p.p. (includes Transport, Spanish Coaching, Guiding, Transport and Accommodation (2 days/1 night)

 

2. S. of VALLARTA GARDENS & LAKES Vallarta Botanical Gardens ,Villa Azalea Organic Farm/Restaurant, Cajón de Las Peñas lake (1.5 hr S. of Vallarta)

Las Juntas y Los Veranos is 30 min south of Puerto Vallarta where the Rivers Orcones and Tomatlán join. Just south a few kilometers is the Vallarta Botanical Gardens - a marvel of gardens by theme built along easy to hike trails, one of which also leads to river pools for swimming. For the energetic, we´ll view the gardens in distinct habitats, hike their Jaguar trail, and end with a swim . Others can stroll the gardens, including the beginnings of the national Orchid Conservatory. Later we can all relax in the 3 storied restaurant of villa proportions overlooking the river. We'll visit El Tuito , a small Mexican agricultural centre, another 20 minutes south, and stroll the attractive central zocalo, visit the art and crafts gallery, and explore the other distinct charms to be found. This town hosts its annual Guadalupe festival Saturday, January 12 th, 2012, with pilgrims arriving in parades of bands and song to the church, and ending with fireworks (un Castillo) with synchronous wheels of fireworks set off on a 20-30 ft wooden tower. Midway rides for children and endless vendor's booths add to the festivities.

A newly opened organic restaurant and farm is located 15 minutes south of Tuito -Villa Azalea Inn and Organic Farm ( http://www.villaazalea.com.mx ) .We'll visit the grounds and talk about the budding organic industry, and sample their wares in their restaurant.

Further south a short distance is the turn-off to Cajón de las Peñas – a beautiful lake (largest reservoir in Jalisco – 14 km x 5 km and 30 meters deep) stocked with Tilapia and reknown for bass fish (up to 4 kilos in size). We'll do a boat tour and hike to waterfall at La Quebrada river, or pools at Guasimal. We'll stay overnight here in cabins at Rancho Andrea (http:// www.ranchoandrea.com ).

Weekend $150 p.p. (2 per. minimum) Includes Transport, Accommodation (Tuito) (2 days/1 night).

 

3. SIGHT SEEING & SHOPPING - Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita area.

We'll show you the shopping highlights. We'll briefly hit a few of the “must see” tourist destinations in Vallarta , Vallarta Saturday or Bucerias Sunday Market Garden of regional arts, crafts, food and friendly artesans . Then a spectacular drive north along the Bahia de Banderas coastline, past new Fonatur Resort development at Litibu, to Sayulita to shop at unique artisan shops, view the galleries and take in the fun beach scene.

Cost: One day -. $75 p.p.; Overnight (Accommodation additional)

 

4. SAYULITA WEEKEND - 1hr from Vallarta

Defiine how you want to spend your weekend to Sayulita – Sightseeing, Beach, Surf, Hiking, Shopping, Cuisine, Galleries. Todo es possible – everything is possible! Suggested stops: Destiladeras beach, one of the nicest fine sand beaches, with crystal sands and good beach combing, and then the beaches of Punta de Mita, the northern cape of the Bay of Banderas.

In Sayulita, hike the coastal trails and beaches, explore different coves (access by car or walking), swim, try surfing for beginners, relax at the many restaurants and cafes, shop at the many unique boutiques for jewelry, Mexican clothing designs, art, etc. Enjoy the lively Sayulita setting and healthy, hip crowd of Mexicans from all parts, and international visitors.

Cost: Two days, one night - $135 p.p.


OFFERINGS & REQUIREMENTS:

1.    Recommended Interest in Mexican Culture, desire to learn Spanish! Advise of level of previous studies if any. (Please advise if more than 4 per group, Minimum 2 Required). Best to have covered Beginner's Level 1 studies (possible before the trip in an intensive Weekend or one week of study www.talkadventures.com), to be able to converse with the locals.

2.   Prices include: Transportation, Accommodation, Guiding, Spanish study plus conversational support and daily tours with teacher (Some extra costs for group tours on location possible, but at group rates).

3.    If you'd like to form your own group, have a specific date in mind, or want to go for less than a week, please inquire. We may be able to accommodate your request.