Looking to Study Spanish & Volunteer

We are Mike and Katy Casey and we have some notion about moving to and living in Mexico or Central America. We have travelled extensively in Mexico, Costa Rica and a number of Asian countries. We retired a little over 2 years ago and spent the last 18 months volunteering to build a health center in Southern Ethiopia (all meant to say that we adapt well to other cultures and are quite used to 2nd and 3rd world cultures and lifestyles).

We will be leaving Bellingham, WA in July and drifting our way by Pickup and 5th wheeler North to Alaska and South as far as Argentina, with long stays in different parts of Mexico to test them out for living in. If we never get to South America ...so be it.

We are interested in communicating with folks who live in Mexico and can help guide us to potential places to live. We want a warm climate, less Gringos and more citizens. We like beaches of course, but also colonial places like Morelia y San Miguel de Allende. We speak some Spanish but plan to spend 3 months learning more and living in the culture instead of a trailer park. We will also be looking to work in local volunteer projects since we both have experience in health care and social work and have lived in the bush in Africa.

Email Mike and Katy at: Mkc2621@aol.com


Lorena Responds: Good to hear from you. Last week I put up a reply to another question on Spanish schools at <http://www.peoplesguide.com/1pages/lets/00/1jan1700.html#Anchor-Where 27509>, recommending Encuentros in Cuernava where I studied Spanish last Spring.

For more info on Encuentros <http://cuernavaca.infosel.com.mx/encuentros/spanish.htm>

Cuernavaca is a fairly large city and probably isn't on you 'first choice' list, but it wasn't on mine either. We went there to do research for our latest book on living and retiring in Mexico. And to our surprise, we really enjoyed living in Cuernavaca. Although quite a few gringos live in and around Curenavaca, I seldom saw any of them, except for the few times we went to the English library looking for people to interview.

There is a lot of traffic in Cuernavaca, so we just parked our van and didn't take it out again until we were leaving. For getting around, we used cabs and buses. Cabs are everywhere (I've never seen so many in any Mexican City) and most rides cost about $1. There is also a very good bus system.

Cuernavaca has a great central market and the liveliest plaza I've ever been to.

In addition, Encuentros is the best language school I have ever attended. It is aimed at serious students, like yourselves, and professionals. It's not 'accredited", so you don't have younger students who want to party under the guise of studying spanish.

We left Cuernavaca reluctantly, though it is far too big a city for us to livie in for any length of time. When I'm ready for another round of Spanish study, however, I will be heading back to Cuernavaca and Encuentros

I'm forwarding your email to Jeannie Anderson at Encuentros, asking her about opportunities for volunteer projects in the health care field.

Jeannie Responds:

Lorena forwarded us your email which expresses your interest in finding a Mexican town where you might live for a while. Along with their message to you about Cuernavaca, located in the state of Morelos, they included a little "commercial" for our language school, ENCUENTROS. I am sending you a follow up with a description of our program - but first I would like to address one of the points in your message, about volunteering.

Cuernavaca, since it is a medium-sized city, has opportunities for volunteer work in the areas of health care and social work. Some of these are religious charities like "Ministerios de Amor" (a Christian organization that runs homes for orphans and homeless adults/street children), The Salvation Army, (which operates a foster home for children from disfunctional families), and St. Vincent de Paul's (offering a free breakfast program).

Others are outreach programs funded by US or Canadian associations (VAMOS, CIDD) which provide free medical care or afternoon educational and recreational activities for underserved populations on the outskirts of the city.

If you are interested we can provide you with contacts to carry out volunteer activities. Few of these organizations have email so it is a question of making phone calls and visits once you arrive in Cuernavaca - in other words, checking out the possibilities in person.

We would be very happy to help you in this project regardless of whether or not you enroll in our Spanish language program. Please get back by email should you be interested and, of course, should you want to acquire Spanish for your stay in Mexico, by all means contact us!

©1972-2000 by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens