– Frequently Asked Questions –
Click on the headings below to be linked to answers to the questions. This will require using browsers such as Firefox or Chrome. (Safari will not work.)
GETTING TO THE SCHOOL
FOOD & WATER
DAILY LIFE & ACTIVITIES
Where is the school?
La Hacienda Spanish School is located in the Pastita neighborhood – the oldest neighborhood in Guanajuato – a quiet yet lively area. Not too far from the historic center, it is easy to get to on foot from most parts of town. The school is located 3 blocks from the Parque Embajadoras and 2 blocks from the baseball stadium. It is only a 10 minute walk from the Parque Embajadoras and a 15 to 20 minute walk from the Teatro Juárez (Juárez Theatre). For specific directions, see our FIND US page. (back to top)
What is Guanajuato like?
Guanajuato is often described as a city "full of life." And it's true. With its streets always bustling with university students, tourists, street vendors and families, it exudes an air of cheerfulness and vitality. For more information, please visit our GUANAJUATO page. (back to top)
How do I get around town in Guanajuato?
Guanajuato was designed for walking, so bring good walking shoes! The local bus system also offers an easy way to get around. Taxis are affordable and safe. Note that Guanajuato taxis are not metered. It's is best to come to an agreement with your taxi driver on the price before starting your journey. Learning Spanish with us will help you negotiate better prices! We're happy to help you arrange for taxis when needed. (back to top)
Is Guanajuato safe?
Recently rated by Lonely Planet as one of the Top 8 places to (safely) visit in Mexico, visitors have little to worry about while staying in Guanajuato. Not being an industrial or commercial city, it avoids the crime problems of larger cities. Anyone can walk alone through the streets during the day and at night without problems, including women.
The only recommendations are to avoid the city's alleyways at night, and don't walk, run or jog on the Panorámica (the major road that circles the town along the mountain tops) in the dark or the very early morning. Some areas – such as the Panorámica – are considered more dangerous, but are generally located away from the center of town.
One of the most attractive activities in Guanajuato is walking in the mountains or on the roads around the city. There have been some robberies of single women in these areas, so women are advised to participate in these activities with a companion.
As in all parts of the world, it is recommended to take commonsense safety precautions and not to draw attention with flashy jewelry or expensive gadgets/electronics. (back to top)
What is the weather like?
Guanajuato has a very mild climate all year round. It is a warm region, but its altitude of 1,880 meters above sea level (or 6,167 feet), make it cooler than other Mexican cities at lower altitudes. The temperature does not change much for several months, April and May being the hottest, and December and January the coldest.
There are distinct seasons, with June through August bringing the most rainfall. The rains usually come in the afternoons and evenings, with very fresh and pleasant mornings.
Winter is a little chilly. In December and January, temperatures can drop to 4 to 5 degrees Celsius (39 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit) in the city. This is cold for Mexicans, but for foreign visitors, is generally pleasant. (back to top)
Getting to The School
What is the closest airport?
Guanajuato International Airport (also known as Bajío International Airport or BJX) is located between León and Silao, about 40km (about 25 miles) from the city of Guanajuato. It is a small but very functional airport and receives flights from various parts of the United States and Mexico. It is only a 40-minute drive from Guanajuato. (back to top)
How do I get to Guanajuato?
From the Airport
Taxi services to and from the Guanajuato International Airport (Bajio International Airport / BJX) are very good and safe. Bus travel is possible, but complicated due to the fact that the bus stops outside the airport and doesn't enter. We offer airport pick up and drop off service for US$35 each way. (back to top)
By Bus from Other Cities
Guanajuato is easily accessible by bus, with plenty of buses to and from cities such as Mexico City, Querétaro, Guadalajara and León daily. A luxury bus from Mexico City, for example, takes about 4 hours. (back to top)
By Car from Other Cities
If you are coming by car from Mexico City, the fastest route is to take Highway 57 to Highway 45D to Highway 45. Then bear east on Highway 110. The toll roads connecting to the city are fast and safe. However, with many tunnels and narrow streets, Guanajuato is a difficult city to navigate by car, and it can be easy to get lost. Additionally, being a city designed for walking, Guanajuato does not have many parking areas. Generally speaking, it's easier for visitors to get to and travel in Guanajuato by taxi or bus rather than by car. (back to top)
How do I get to La Hacienda Spanish School?
Once you are in Guanajuato, finding the school will be easy using the map and directions provided on our FIND US page. (back to top)
What if I don't want to stay with a family?
Guanajuato offers a variety of lodging opportunities, including hostels, hotels, apartments and house rentals. Just let us know what you are looking for, and we'll help you sort out the options. (back to top)
Food & Water
Is it safe to drink the tap water in Guanajuato?
Safe drinking water can only be found in bottles. All homestay families provide jugs of water which is completely safe to drink. At the school, we provide safe drinking water and coffee, free of charge. (back to top)
Is it safe to eat out or eat foods from the markets?
The city offers restaurants that satisfy a wide variety of tastes, including Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, French, Korean, etc. In general, it is safe for visitors to eat in restaurants and even food from street vendors.
It is always advisable, if you buy fruits and vegetables in the markets or from street vendors, to give the produce a wash – using bottled water and an anti-germ solution such as Microdyn, which you can buy at the grocery store, OXXO or other convenience stores – before eating it. The anti-germ solution is usually found in the produce section in grocery stores. (back to top)
Can my homestay family accommodate my dietary choices/restrictions?
Homestay families provide delicious, healthy meals that can satisfy any palate. Simply let us know your dietary preferences and needs, and we will pass this information onto your hosts. (back to top)
What are other La Hacienda Spanish School students like?
You will find an interesting variety of people at La Hacienda Spanish School, originating from all parts of the world. Most of our students come from the U.S. and Canada, but we have also worked with students from Germany, Australia, England, Scotland, South Korea, Japan, China, Italy, India, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Philippines, New Zealand and Russia.
Students of all ages come to learn Spanish with us: young children, teenagers, college kids, adults who work with Spanish speakers, and retirees. (back to top)
Daily Life & Activities
What is a typical day like for students?
Classes start each day at 9:00 am, although some students prefer to start a little later. Depending on the number of classes taken, students finish their classes at 12:00, 1:30 or 2:30pm.
In the afternoons, students go home to cook or eat with their families. Many take advantage of the pleasant afternoons by going for walks around or outside of town, studying in a cafe or garden, sitting in one of the many outdoor plazas or visiting a tourist spot or museum.
On weekends many students take the opportunity to go on trips offered by the school or travel on their own to other areas of interest. They also explore and discover the hidden gems of Guanajuato and go hiking in the mountains surrounding the city. In general, walking a favorite activity of many of our students. (back to top)
Does the school organize activities and excursions outside of class?
We try to offer a variety of extracurricular activities to our students to enrich their time in Mexico and keep them practicing their Spanish.
We offer city tours to interesting sights around Guanajuato, including a welcome tour around the most well-known and central spots in the city.
Additionally, La Hacienda Spanish School offers activities such as dance classes, cooking classes, reiki classes, yoga classes, guitar lessons, films, exchanges with English learners, hiking through the mountains, sports and outings to professional soccer games. We are also known for hosting fun parties and gatherings that allow for socializing and casual Spanish practice outside of the classroom.
On weekends we organize trips to other nearby cities of interest, such as San Miguel de Allende, Dolores Hidalgo and León. We also offer tours to such places as the ruins of old mining towns, pyramids, and to see the Monarch butterflies. (back to top)
What kind of footwear is most appropriate to bring?
Good walking shoes or sandals will be your best friends on Guanajuato's cobblestone streets and inclined pathways. Although local women wear heels, you may want to think twice before packing yours! (back to top)
Based on the climate, what type of clothing should I bring?
See our section on Climate to determine the best clothing for the seasons you will be visiting. (back to top)
Where can I wash my clothes?
There are very affordable, full service laundromats throughout the city. You can drop your clothes off and usually pick them up the next day or two cleaned, dried and ironed. Some houses and apartments, not all, have their own washing machine or laundry area. Most visitors prefer to have a laundry service clean their clothes, for the ease it affords. The service is very economical. (back to top)
How can I get online during my time in Guanajuato?
There is wireless internet access at the school and in a number of cafes throughout the city. Additionally, if you need to use a computer during your visit, there are many places where you can pay in 10 to 15 minute increments for onsite computer usage and printing. (back to top)
Can I use my cell phone in Mexico?
Before leaving home, check with your cell phone service provider for more information on their international phone and/or data plans, and whether your phone will work on the Mexican GSM network.
If you're from the U.S., Canada, or most European countries, and your cell phone is unlocked, you can purchase a SIM card and either pay-as-you-go or a suitable plan from a Mexican mobile service provider – TelCel and Movistar are the more commonly used ones because their mobile network coverages are the biggest.
You could also buy a phone while in Mexico – Smart or otherwise. The "otherwise" are inexpensive, but be aware that the purchase cost of a Smart phone in Mexico is much higher than in many countries.
Generally, There are a lot of options, plus each cell phone service provider has its own particular options. Be sure to check with your provider before leaving home. (back to top)
What is the local currency and where can I exchange money?
Although some places accept US dollars, in general, it is much better to make all payments and purchases with the local currency, which is the peso. The exchange rate is variable, but the dollar is very strong in 2015 (up to $14 to $16 pesos per dollar). Check here for current exchange rates. Foreign currency can be changed at banks, exchange offices or at the airport. A small fee is always charged. (back to top)
Can I use my credit and/or debit card in Guanajuato?
Most credit cards and debit cards are accepted in Mexico. Check with your bank. It is also a good idea to let your credit card company and bank know that you will be traveling abroad and making purchases in Mexico. There are ATM machines at banks in Guanajuato where you can withdraw money from your bank accounts. Typically, both your bank and the local bank will charge a fee. Many businesses in Guanajuato are small "mamá y papá" operations and deal in cash only, so don't expect to use your charge card or debit card as much as you do at home. (back to top)
Do I need to bring a power adapter?
Mexico is on 120v, 60Hz power, the same as the United States and Canada. If you are coming from a country other than the U.S. or Canada, check to see if your power cords are compatible or if you will need to bring an adapter/converter. Some buildings still have only 2-prong outlets, so if you're staying in such a place and have a 3-prong plug or adaptor/converter, you'll need to buy a small adapter at the local market or at a "ferretería" (hardware store) for about $45 pesos (US$3). (back to top)
Header photo credit: www.kirstencunningham.com