Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spanish School in Barcelona Offers Winter Savings

Save some money, buy more Tapas. One of our Spanish language schools in Barcelona is offering three weeks of courses for the price of two for a big Winter Discount. This is a $225 savings on our listed rates for any program that is 3 weeks or longer.

This promotion is valid for all registrations received today or after October 19th that will take place in November 2011 to the end of February 2012. You must put the code "3 for 2 promotion"next to your first name on our online registration form or simply mention the promotion if registering by phone.

Barcelona - Photo by Jaume Meneses
Related Posts:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Study Abroad Mitigates the Negatives of Travel


Photo by Dahon
The Art of Backpacking (AOB) had an interesting take on Effects of Long Term travel. While their perspective is on a more constant movement from one location to the next, some of the pros and cons carry a lot of weight with studying abroad.

AOB points out that finding an affordable hostel in each location can be a pit fall for many travelers and wastes precious time that could be used for exploring. They also point out that friends are short term, and language barriers are annoying. 

Fortunately being in one location that provides prearranged affordable host family or student housing accommodations, and having a centralized community at the language school combats a lot of the negative aspects, while still taking advantage of all the positives.

One could also easily study in multiple locations as we have pointed out here on several occasions. This allows our language students to see the world, while still getting the comfort of a home base and school that provides assistance with activities and excursions. Plus, most students study abroad on their own, so they are looking for other people to meet up with and do things outside of class. 

Studying abroad also gives you a daily purpose to get up in the morning for learning. Other travel can leave you wondering what to do next and it may take till noon to figure it out. With our programs your mornings are cover with Spanish instruction with your afternoons wide open to explore the new location for your chosen adventure. You also have weekends open to enjoy the nightlife and venture abroad to other neighboring cities or sites of interest. 


When I studied abroad, I liked the structure of the instruction in that I didn't feel like I was stuck in class all day, but still had morning instruction to give me a base to learn something new and then get to go practice it in real world situations. While there are always going to be some disadvantages to travelling compared to staying at home in your comfort zone, the positives can quickly be felt from the new friends, exciting adventures, and learning language skills that can be used both in your every day and professional life. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ski South America: Argentina and Chilean Andes

Many of our students take advantage of the amazing Andean ski slopes while studying Spanish in Argentina and Chile. Our program in Santiago even has its own ski program that provides transportation out to the slopes which are just an hour outside the city. 

Here is a great video of a skier hitting the slopes this year and showing what skiing on the Andes in Argentina and Chile is all about. From our school in Santiago you can hit the slopes in the afternoons while studying in the Morning, plus since the seasons are swapped in the Southern Hemisphere, you can enjoy your summer break in a winter wonderland. 


South America Ski Trip - August 2011 from crystal wright on Vimeo.

Related Posts:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mazatlan Fighting to Be Shrimp Capital

Largest Shrimp Cocktail
If you have tried fresh Mexican Shrimp then you know that they are some of the tastiest seafood there is to be had. Maztlan's hotel and shrimp industry want this thought to be ingrained in the image of their city and put together a Guiness Record besting Shrimp Cocktail of grande proportions.

Our Spanish school is located right behind the Laguna de Camaron, so the significance of the tasty crustacean is always close by. Having grown up on shrimp in spicy salsa my taste buds spring to action at the mere sight of this copious amount of shellfish. I can only imagine what it was like for the lucky spectators who were lucky enough to be on hand to help polish of the gargantuan dish. 

The official weight of the Largest Shrimp Cocktail ever was 1,187 pounds and due to the close comparison it was also considered the largest Shrimp Ceviche by Guiness. Call it what you want, I just want a pound to myself. 

Related Posts: 

Monday, October 10, 2011

One Accent Language Learning Community


There is a wealth of resources to complement a study abroad program. With the growing influence of the world wide web in our everyday lives, many of the tools needed to prepare or continue your language acquisition are right at your finger tips. Our Spanish language school in Tamarindo, Costa Rica has established one such resource to allow you to continue your studies at their Language Learning Community called "One Accent". 

The online language courses are provided with a free registration. One Accent also features a forum to talk with other people learning Spanish and to share your experience through social interaction. Coming soon they will also have a Live Tutor section for additional one on one support as well as a bookstore for instant access to study materials. 

There are many ways to skin a cat and when it comes to language acquisition, if you don't use it, you can easily lose it. Most people do not have the time for a 4-6 month period away from their everyday lives to gain fluency. Studying Abroad through a Spanish immersion program combined with continual supplemental practice, you can gain long lasting communicative abilities. 

Register for free and become part of the free Language Learning Community at: OneAccent.com

Related Posts: 



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Spain's Duchess of Alba Married

Perhaps she is the grand example for all cougars out there as the Spanish Duchess of Alba is getting married for a third time at the age of 85. Her beau is 25 years her junior, so it is no surprise that her children has qualms about their nuptials. However, it is reported that she dished out over a billion in assets to satiate her ungrateful spawn. Yet it turns out it still wasn't enough to buy their attendance to the wedding. 

Here is a video from the Telegraph showing that the lady still has it after all these years. It must be the laid back Spanish life style, of course with a few billion padding the way. 



Related Posts:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mexican Culture: Posada's Calaveras

Jose Guadalupe Posada was a Mexican cartoonist born in the State of Aguascalientes on February 2nd 1952. Posada’s ideas were clearly progressive, and somewhat bohemian. He is well recognized worldwide for his use of Calaveras (Skeletons) to depict the Mexican society of his times.

Posada’s  Calaveras were used to illustrate a political point of view and they were typically witty images of skeletons dressed with fine clothes and jewelry. One of his most famous works is the “Calavera Catrina”, which was primarily meant to mock the pretentious upper class of his time. The Catrina, a snooty lady wearing the big fancy hat decorated with flowers and feathers is a good example of Posada’s criticism of the high society who at the end could not take anything with them.

Posada was more than a cartoonist. His progressive ideas influenced some of the most well known Mexican muralists such as Diego Rivera.  In fact, it was Diego Rivera who discovered Posada’s work and incorporated it into one of his murals.  Rivera along with Jean Charlot (a French artist) brought back Posada’s work from obscurity and into the international arena.

Today in Mexico, Posada’s imagines of the Calaveras have become accepted in the Mexican folklore and now these imagines are used during the celebration of the Day of the Dead “Dia de  los muertos”.

Giant Calavera de La Catrina in the Zocalo
Photo by Randall Sheppard
Related Posts:


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Flavors of Mexico: Spanish and Gastronomy Tour


Mexican Guacamole
Our Spanish school in Cuernavaca is offering a very unique experience where you can learn Spanish and at the same time explore the exciting world of Mexican Cuisine. This isn't your typical taco shack Mexican food. 

The Chefs of our neighbor to the South have brought their gastronomy to world class levels. They take essential farm fresh products along with  amazing recipes combining spices, chiles, and lots of love to create dishes at the highest level of flavor from around the globe.  

The "Sabores de Mexico" Program will include 3 hours of Spanish classes Monday to Friday starting at 9AM, with a short break for coffee, followed by discussions of Mexican Cuisine, cooking classes, and city or market tours on select days. 

You will have your lunch and dinner at local restaurants, so that you can sample the different dishes for yourself. During the afternoon cuisine portion you will learn about the fundamental aspects of authentic Mexican gastronomy from its Prehispanic origins to contemporary cuisine, including regional dishes, and haute cuisine. A very important part of the learning is the hands on experience including making fresh tortillas and the more technical chile relleno. 

Los Azulejos 
Weekends will be filled with excursions to the food cities of Central Mexico including Puebla, Xochicalco, and Taxco, with the entire trip capped off with a tour of Mexico City and eating at the top restaurants of this food mecca including Los Azulejos and Cafe de Tacuba. 

The program is open to all adults that are 18+ and includes 14 nights of accommodations with a local host family, 1 night at a 4 Star hotel, in Mexico City, lunch and dinner at local restaurants, 30 hours of Spanish instruction, as well as the activities and excursions indicated in the itinerary below. 

The program price is $1650, which includes an advance non-refundable deposit of $250 that must be paid at the time of enrollment. For further details and booking, please contact Spanish Abroad at 1-888-722-7623. The program does not include flights, airport transfers, or laundry service. 

The Itinerary: 
 Sabores de México 2011
Spanish Language & Mexican Gastronomy
October 22nd to November 6th, 2011

Saturday
October 22

Arrival to the Mexico City Airport & Travel to Cuernavaca, directly to the host families
Sunday
October 23

10:00 am Orientation & Placement
 11:00 am Tour of Cuernavaca's downtown**
Monday
October 24

12:10 pm Lecture Mexican Cuisine Origins
2:00 p.m. Lunch time 4:00 p.m. Visit to the main local market **
Tuesday
October 25

12:10 pm Lecture
Mexican cuisine by regions
1:00 p.m. Cooking class at the school
2:30 p.m. Meal at the school
Free afternoon
Wednesday
October 26

11:50 pm Tepoztlan tour, cooking class and meal at a restaurant. **
Thursday
October 27

12:10 pm Lecture:
Effects of the Political & Economical Situation on the Mexican Diet
2:00 p.m. Lunch time
4:00 p.m. Movie: "Corazón de Melón"
Friday
October 28

12:10 pm Cooking class with your host family

Free afternoon
Saturday
October 29

7:00 am
Puebla City Tour and meal at a restaurant.
**
Sunday
October 30

9:00 am
Xochicalco & Taxco Tour and meal at a restaurant.
**
Monday
October 31

12:10 pm Lecture: Customs and traditions in Mexico. Day of the Dead Altars
2:00 p.m. Lunch time

Free afternoon
Tuesday
November 1

12:10 pm
Cooking class at the school
2:30 p.m. Meal at the school
5:00 p.m. Visit to Ocotopec Town
Day of the Dead
Altars
Wednesday
November 2

12:10 pm
Visit to the Ethno Botanical Garden **
2:00 p.m. Lunch time

Free afternoon
Thursday
November 3

12:10 pm Lecture: Contemporary Mexican diet
2:00 p.m. Lunch time
7:00 p.m. Contemporary Mexican Cuisine (cooking class & dinner at a restaurant)
Friday
November 4

12:10 pm
Cooking class at the school
2:30 p.m. Meal at the school

Free afternoon
Saturday
November 5

Mexico City Tour (Stay at a 4-star hotel)
8:00 am Departure to Mexico City:
Frida Kahlo museum; Coyoacan market; Coyoacan downtown; Check-in at the hotel;
Lunch at Los Azulejos; Downtown tour; Dinner at Café de Tacuba.
**
Sunday
November 6

Departure to the airport on your own. The group leader will assist you with the taxi arrangements.
DURING WEEKDAYS:
9 am to 11:50 am: Spanish classes in groups of 2 to 5 students
11:50 am to 12:10 pm: Coffee break
12:10 to 1:00 pm: Cultural activity.
2:00 pm: Lunch time with your Mexican family.
**Transportation Included

Related Posts:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Enjoy Your Layover Rather Than Just Wait

We have all been there. You find the best flight possible for the right price, but it just so happens you have an eight hour layover or longer in a city you have never visited. However, you still won't get to visit it since you are stuck in an airport and afraid to venture too far or no nothing about the city and places to visit. Well those days are over now that some creative travel conscious innovators have created the Layover Guide.com

This is a blog and resource directory holding links to various travel sites to further research your travels. The posts are regularly updated, but they categorize the information they provide by region, so that you can easily browse past articles to find the location that is relevant to your airport needs as well as quick visits to major sites of interest in the area. They also provide a quick search to narrow down the locations of interest. 

Going back through previous posts you can easily find airports for the major cities of Latin America both in North (Mexico and Central) and South America as well as the major Spain hub of Madrid along with a few other airports in Spain.

You will find in the details provided that some airports are towns unto themselves. You could easily entertain yourself by visiting the different restaurants mentioned in different terminals or possibly exhibits that may be on display. There are also duty free and other shops featuring local goods for sale that can provide you with plenty of hours of entertainment simply by perusing interesting products, even if you don't end up spending a dime. 

The greatest resource gained by researching the Layover Guide is finding the means to get to different sites of interest outside the confines of the Airport. Madrid for instance has a direct metro train from Barajas Airport to downtown Madrid in approximately 30 minutes for just 2 Euros. If you have just 4 hours to kill you can easily make it downtown, check out street performers, view the stunning architecture around the Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor, eat some jamon serrano, drink a cerveza,  and still make it back with plenty of time to spare.

If you have more time available, you could even stop at the Prado Museum for a quick tour hitting their prized works of art at the low cost of 8 Euro. The guide also provides you with details for where the lockers are located, so you can quickly lock up your bags for a quicker journey into the city. These little tidbits are priceless when you want to see as much as possible in the time alloted. Traveling offers many opportunities to see and do things that are not possible in your everyday life. Make the most of the time you have away from your normal schedule and utilize resources like the Layover Guide fill in those gaps of time where otherwise you would end up just sitting in some lobby chair waiting for an adventure rather than living it.

Related Posts:




Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Oldest City in the Americas

Where will you be this Saturday? If you are studying at our Spanish school in Lima, you would have the opportunity to visit the oldest city in the Americas. The Ancient City of Caral dates back 5,000 years according to radiocarbon dating. 

Lying a little over 100 miles North of Lima, Caral is just one of Peru's Ancient wonders. Many people look to Machu Picchu for its majestic mountain side beauty as one of the top sites to visit in Peru, but could Caral be overlooked despite it possibly being the oldest city in all of the Americas?

Here is a great video that gives you a quick tour of the various buildings that are recognized at the site of the ruins today. This is just one of the popular excursions that our Spanish school in Lima organizes for students on a regular basis. 



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Costa Rica Teen Spanish Program Feedback

San Jose Summer Spanish Program Teens
One of the teens that studied with us this past Summer in San Jose, Costa Rica gave us a great overview of her experience and has allowed us to share her feedback with our readers.

It is great when any of our students follow up with our requests for feedback as we want to know how their experience went while studying at our Spanish Immersion Schools.

Here is what Jennie experienced at the Costa Rica Teen Spanish program in her own words. She was also kind enough to share some of her photos included here. 

For 4 weeks I stayed with a host family in Santo Domingo de Heredia, Costa Rica (San Jose Teen Camp Location) and learned Spanish at the Spanish Abroad School. Being the first teen of the summer I made new friendships with the adults and received personal attention from my teacher. Every day I had 4 hours of class with an amazing “profesora”.


Jennie with Mama Tica
Each day brought new discoveries and memories. I started by reviewing basic conjugations and helpful, common vocabulary and by the end of my stay I had learned all forms of the preterite and the future tenses.

Each week more teens arrived, I had a small class and we frequently learned new grammar, played helpful games, and talked, all in Spanish.

I had excursions and activities every day which included Manuel Antonio National Park, Volcan Poas, Volcan Arenal, zip lining, cooking, and my favorite, Merengue and Salsa dance classes.

My 1400 photos and videos have captured my favorite moments. Spanish Abroad allowed me to create new friendships across the world from Germany to Switzerland, and all over the United States who I correspond to in Spanish.

I now consider my host family my real family, I talked to them every morning, I listened to their stories of past foreign students and I shared my own stories about my life back at home. Now I smile whenever I am in Spanish class because I have had such a wonderful experience learning the language in Costa Rica with Spanish Abroad. I completely recommend Spanish Abroad's School in San Jose."

Thanks,

Jennie

Related Posts:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Costa Rica Christmas Adventure Packages

Our Spanish school in Tamarindo will host a Christmas Adventure Package including Spanish and Surf instruction, activities, and excursions. The program kicks off December 18th for initial arrivals into Liberia Airport. You can choose between a 10-Day Extended Package or 2 Week Package.

Spanish and Surf lessons our provided by the experienced instructors that lead the courses year-round. Students will be tested on day one for proper placement in groups according to level of proficiency, Separate classes are held for Adults and Children. Families are encouraged to participate in the Christmas Adventure Package as the Spanish school provides year-round group classes for ages 7 and up and all of the activities are family friendly.

Each of the programs will include four hours of Spanish per day, two Surf lessons each week with surfboard included, welcome orientation/drink, a trip to Conchal Beach, as well as an excursion  to a resort at the base of Arenal Volcano including round trip ground transportation with 2 nights for the 10-Day Package and 1 night for the 2 Week Package.


The resort at Arenal Volcano includes an two onsite restaurants, jacuzzi, sauna, bar, gym, spa, laundry service, and 24 hour security.There are also 14 naturally heated mineral rich spring fed pools for guests to relax and take in the beautiful surroundings. The temperature of the pools vary depending where they are  positioned on the grounds of the resort and can reach up to 100+ degrees Fahrenheit. 

Each room at the resort is equipped with a private bathroom, air conditioning, hot water, private balcony,  and other standard amenities. The rooms have easy access to the onsite spa for messages or facials as well as the walking trails that spread through the lush gardens located on the resort grounds. Meals and additional off-site activities can be arranged onsite at an additional cost. There are a variety of outdoor activities within close vicinity of the hotel available through local outfitters with private shuttle service.


If you opt for the Two Week Costa Rica Spanish Adventure Package you will take part in a canopy tour activity near Tamarindo and a Full Day Excursion to Rincon de la Vieja Volcano including ground transfers, buffet lunch, tubing, horseback riding, hot springs and volcanic mud bath.

Housing options include staying with a Costa Rican host family including 2 meals per day, onsite at the student residence with triple boarding, or stay in a bungalow apartment at a hotel across from the school.

Arrival: 
December 18th, 2011

Departure: 
Ten-Day Package:
December 27th, 2011

Two Week Package:
January 1st, 2011








Pricing Information:  
Registration Fee: $90 per person

Ten-Day Package 
(Housing Included)
Host family : $840 per person
Student Residence: $825 per person

Bungalow Apartment: $2,365
Each Additional Person: $695

2 Week Package (Housing Included)
Host family : $1,515 per person
Student Residence: $1,485 per person

Bungalow Apartment: $3,840
Each Additional Person: $1,195

Booking Deadline: First come first serve, book in advance to ensure availability of accommodations.

Contact Spanish Abroad Inc. for booking and additional information at:
Tel: 1-888-722-7623
jsmith@spanishabroad.com 
Monday to Friday 8AM to 5PM Pacific
www.SpanishAbroad.com

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jungle Spanish Program in Peru's Tambopata Rainforest

Tambopata National Reserve Sky Bridge
Exactly one month from today students will be embarking on a once in a lifetime trip to Peru's Tambopata Rainforest to study Spanish, stay in an Amazon jungle lodge with other students, plus take in the natural beauty and wildlife that the National Reserve has to offer with fun guided activities. 

The Tambopata Jungle program covers one week with a September 11th departure from Cusco by bus to return one week later after one of the most adventurous Spanish immersion programs around. 

Just as in Cusco you will have 4 hours per day of group Spanish instruction where you will be taught through full immersion focusing on conversational aspects of the language including vocabulary and grammar building, as well as everyday practical scenarios. Classes are divided by language proficiency. The schools experienced teachers from Cusco join in on the trip to provide the same level of instruction that you would receive in the city. 

Conversational topics incorporate the ecological and environment of the Amazon Rainforest. This is an easy subject to cover as the Tambopata reserve is home to a variety of parrots, macaws, frogs, butterflies, gazelles, turtles, tapirs, monkeys and much more from the animal kingdom, all within close proximity for viewing.

The jungle lodge lies along the Tambopata river and features bungalow style accommodations with private bathrooms. There is a large common area for students to relax and chat as well as an onsite bar and pool. There are miles of trails through the jungle that lead from the lodge, so that you can go out on guided tours and experience the sites and sounds of the Amazon. 

You can combine the Jungle Program with any number of weeks at the Standard Spanish Program in Cusco, prior to or after your week in the Tambopata Rainforest. This can also be arranged in conjunction with any number of weeks studying at the Spanish school in Lima. If you are unable to make the September 11th start date, other Jungle programs are scheduled for October 9th and November 6th. 

The program price for the entire package with courses, accommodations, and guided activities is $700. The program is open to all levels except complete beginners. Contact Spanish Abroad with any questions and for registration at 1-888-722-7623. Office Hours 8AM to 4PM, Monday to Friday. At least 6 students are required to run the program. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

FlipKey: Private Apartment Rentals

Tripadvisor is a great travel guide where you can check on flights, restaurants, things to do, and any travel related item along with reviews from people that have actually experienced the particular topic you are checking out. They have expanded this great resource to now offer a vacation rental site called FlipKey, where you can find condos, bungalows, town homes, or whatever other monicker you want to slap on an apartment style or home rental. 


Most of our Spanish students stay with host families while studying abroad and some opt for a shared apartment or onsite student residence, but others would like the privacy that comes with housing that does not include other residents sharing the same common areas. Some schools have private apartments while others simply do not have an alternative to host family, so if you don't want this arrangement then a more pricey hotel could be your only option. However, with FlipKey we can set up your courses and you can find an apartment rental in the area to best suit your housing situation.

FlipKey not only gives you the ability to find local rentals available for a given city in Latin America or Spain, but also provides you with availability, description and amenities, pricing, photos, and most importantly customer reviews from previous visitors. Likes and dislikes of another person can be a big distinguishing factor in you choosing a rental that is right for you. Obviously if there is nothing negative to say, then it could be the right choice for you as long as the photos look good, there are similar praises from other customers, and the price is right. Of course negative factors may not be a deal breaker either. 

Perhaps there are certain aspects that irks some people that are not a big factor in your consideration. Some locations simply may not have A/C, which can be expected for a lot of cities outside of the US, but a traveller may have not expected this and complained anyway. Perhaps an apartment has a lot of foot traffic in the area which could be a bad thing for someone looking for a more secluded residential area, while another person could love this since they want to be where all the action is. In simpler terms one man's trash is another man's treasure. 

Here is how we would select an apartment: 
1. Does the description, amenities, and photos cover what you are looking for? If it doesn't have enough space or the aesthetic does not fit your comfort level, then you can quickly move along to other options.

2. Is there availability for the dates requested. If not, are you willing to consider other dates. 

3. Is the location desirable? Once we book your courses we will send you a school information sheet with the address of the school. This way you can see how far the apartment, condo, house, etc. is from the school as well as other points of interest on googlemaps.com or a similar mapping resource. 

4. If the previous factors bode well then check on pricing. Are you getting the best bang for your buck? Are there alternatives that are more cost effective. 

5. Finally, look at the customer comments. See if the description of the accommodations, photos, and other details match up with the actual experience of previous residents. 

6. Book your stay and make sure you understand all of the policies involved with the rental and receive confirmation on your booking. 

Obviously you can mix these steps. Perhaps you check out customer comments before the pricing aspect to save your time. Most likely you will end up comparing different options to see what is best, which is why we suggest this process of steps to help easily provide a process of elimination. It is important to book far in advance so as you go through these steps no aspect of quality is compromised by the fact of it not being available. 

FlipKey also provides a refine search option so once you get to an individual location, you can quickly change different criteria including: location from a point in the city, pricing, size, availability, and rating, so you can quick narrow these steps down to simply picking your preferences and finding what meets those terms. Here is where you may need to tweak your selections to find something that is actually a reality. 

Spanish Abroad is happy to provide price quotes for courses only if you do not want to choose any of the accommodations options included with our programs. You can simply give us a call at 1-888-722-7623 or shoot us an email to jsmith at SpanishAbroad dot com. We think FlipKey is a great option for those that want a customized housing arrangement with ease of use and the ability to choose options within your comfortable price range. Check out their options at FlipKey Vacation Rentals and be sure to visit their parent site Trip Advisor for a whole world of information on travel. 

Related Posts:



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Are You a Taco Master?

You don't need to be a Top Chef to Master these tacos. This fun iPAD application game brings you to the fast pace art of making street tacos.

You will need to utilize the various ingredients typically found in high quality Mexican food including Carne Asada, Onions, cilantro, salsa, and don't forget the tortillas or it will be a messy taco 

Taco Master by Chillingo offers three levels of play including a time attack mode which seems the most fun in utilizing your taco making skills to quickly churn out good tacos. Who knows it may even help give you good pointers on making Mexican food you can actually eat. 

The Taco Master game app is available for just 99 cents at the iTunes APP store and will work for iphones, iPad, and iPod Touch. Warning: May cause immediate bouts of hunger with urge to run to your nearest taco shop. 

Related Posts: 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Celebrate Mexico's Independence Day and Save!

Photo by 
Fabian Everado Alvarez Navarro


Two of our Spanish language schools in Mexico are offering you the incentive to study in Puerto Vallarta or Oaxaca and take part in the festivities surrounding the commemoration of independence from the Spanish on September 16th.

Just register for a program before August 31st for our Option #1 Program in Oaxaca or Option #2 Program in Puerto Vallarta and save $35 per week on any program. You can call to register or put Viva Mexico! next to your first name on the online registration to noted the discount.

This promotion is valid for any program that takes part during the month of September and October, so you can extend your stay for multiple weeks and still receive the great savings. 

This is an amazing time to visit Mexico as there are great cultural events that are taking place to honor the creation of a new country for the Mexican people. Puerto Vallarta has a three day celebration for the holiday to highlight the occasion.

You will want to start your classes by September 12th so that you can get in on the start of the festivities on September 14th. This is when they have the Parade of Charros on "Cowboy Day". Just imagine immaculately dressed cowboys riding horseback through the center of the city. After the parade there are rodeo events and bullfighting at local venues including, El Lienzo Charro Miguel "prieto" Ibarria and Plaza de Toros La Paloma.

The next night on September 15th, locals and visitors alike gather in the main plaza at night to greet their day of independence by yelling Viva Mexico!, while fireworks light the sky. There is plenty of traditional dancing, music, and food to provide a great cultural experience.

September 16th  is what everything has been leading up to with an Independence Day Parade including workers and students continuing the festivities. This is followed by fiestas at different restaurants and bars where promotions and fun activities take place.

This year by the time all of the celebrating is done, you are just getting started with the weekend, since the start of the three day affair is on a Wednesday. At least you will have a couple days to recover for the next week of classes. And you thought Cinco de Mayo down at your local Tex-Mex joint was a party!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tasty Quesadillas Done Right

Ahh so simple, yet the delicate process of Quesadilla preparation could leave you with a soggy rubbery mess without proper ingredients and cooking technique. With only two major ingredients, tortilla and cheese, how could you mess that up? Well, some people can't boil water or scramble eggs. 

Who doesn't like a good Quesadilla aka Kesadilla in some Mexican circles, who like to save the labor of typing one extra letter. I had a cousin that would only eat a Quesadilla when we went to our regular family Mexican Restaurant, which was a travesty given the many other possibilities. However, how can  you blame him when the tortilla was perfectly crisped and the cheese was oh so gooey good. 

As with any cuisine, you need the highest quality ingredients to get the best result for your final creation. Finding good tortillas and queso can be easy in Phoenix with a large Hispanic population, while this may be harder in some towns across America. 

We like to go to the neighborhood carniceria where local homemade tortillas are delivered for same day sell. These have the perfect texture with little burnt bits from the comal giving a smoky flavor to the tortilla. They also are moist and crisp up perfectly. However, those that don't have a local carniceria can pickup some from Tortillaland  at Costco or Wal-Mart that are pre-made, but still raw, so they maintain their freshness till you cook them up. these make amazing Quesadillas as well. You could make your own, but this becomes a project in itself and results can leave you heading out to the store anyway. 

We also like to pick up our Oaxacan Cheese from the carniceria, this cheese melts perfectly to a cream texture, but not to soft that it runs off the tortilla. You can typically find this at Wal-Mart grocery stores or Costco, though this may vary in other states. Monterrey Jack is also another great choice which can be found all over. Just make sure it is a cheese made with actual dairy and not too processed with oils and who knows what else. 

Once you have this covered all you need to do is turn up your griddle or a caste iron flat skillet to high heat. Target has started selling Imusa brand Comals as well, which work great. Anything flat top and very hot should do the trick. We rub our tortillas with a little bit of oil for the best crispness. Throw it on and flip it before puffs up too much. You can pop the bubbles to keep it flat. Once slightly brown throw the shredded cheese on one side of the tortilla and turn the other side to cover the cheese. You want a single consistent layer of cheese, otherwise it can turn into a gloppy mess. You can then turn it back and forth to your  person preference of crispiness.


You can have all types of dips for your Quesadilla or eat it plain. I like Crema Mexicana with a little bit of Salsa Verde mixed in. If you want to really make a meal you can leave the tortilla flat, cover with cheese, add cooked carne or pollo asada and then cover with another tortilla. However, try perfecting the simple recipe before getting to technical with your Quesadilla mastery. Again, it is rather simple, but takes some practice to perfect. 

Related Posts: