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Mexico FlagVolunteer Mexico  |  San Isidro Arenal

Our Mexican program is currently on hold but will soon start again.

Volunteer San Isidro Arenal

San Isidro Arenal is situated in the Sierra Mountains of Oaxaca in an area known as "La Chinatla" well known for it richness in vegetation. Its an excellent place for those wishing to get to know the real rural Mexico to volunteer. San Isidro Arenal is a "Chinateco" village. The Chinatecos are an ethnic group that were never colonized by the Spaniards and as a result tend to maintain a lot of their cultural heritage.

To participate in this program volunteers have to be able to speak Spanish since they stay in a village 2 hours away from the nearest city. The inhabitants of San Isidro do not speak English; they speak their native language "Chinateco" and Spanish. We prefer that volunteers stay for one to three months (no short stays). An open mind and flexibility is highly recommended.

Here our volunteers teach English and Computers to the children of the village and its surroundings. Voluntreers can also participate in the TEQUIO (which is an obligated community work for all Chinanteco men over 17 years of age). We also have reforestation programs in the area.

If you are interested in volunteering in this project please keep in mind that you will be staying with a Mexican family in a Village with around 500 inhabitants. The family will treat you as one of their own and there is electricity and running water available, but this IS rural Mexico, NO LUXURIES. It is quite possible that you will be the only volunteer there....
so…if you are ready for the adventure of your life join us in San Isidro Arenal!

Prices are available for any period between 2 weeks and 6 months.

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What you receive
  • Pick-up service from the nearest bus station
  • Orientation upon arrival
  • 24 hour support by English speaking personnel
  • Accomodation
  • Regular follow-up meetings
  • Beginners Spanish language classes - 15 hours
  • An introduction to teaching techniques
  • An introduction to Mexican culture
  • Mexican cooking classes
  • Latin dance classes
  • Local mobile phone or SIM card
Apart from our fees, you must pay for:
  • Your flight to the nearest airport
  • Vaccinations
  • Airfares and all transportation to your project location
  • Health insurance
  • Food and other personal expenses

Our application process typically takes two or three weeks, but can be speeded up if there is a need for that. When we receive the initial application from you, we will send you our full application form.

(1) Complete the Initial Application Form:
The first stage of the application process is to fill out the brief initial application form. Upon receiving this we will send you the full application form.

(2) Complete the Full Application Form:
Fill out the application form. After receiving this we will assess your suitability and place you on one of our programs.

(3) Placement info:
We will return detailed placement information and an invoice. If you accept the placement you should clikc the link to say so. The fee can be paid with credit card through PayPal or by bank transfer.

(4) Communication:
Once you have made your traveling arrangements you should mail your time of arrival and the means of transportation and we will confirm pickup.

You can join us for any amount of time, from a week to three months. We do recommend a trip of three months since it offers the best value. Regardless of the length of your stay, you will be able to learn some Spanish and you will have time to get to know a new culture, come to know its people, and form relationships that will outlast the duration of your stay.

All of the projects are ongoing. Primary Schools and Kindergartens follow the semester schedules, which start in September and finish in June with two two-week vacation periods: one in mid March (Semana Santa) and one in December (Navidad). The rest of the projects go on throughout the year except for December and all national holidays. We suggest that you keep this in mind when deciding on the dates you will be joining us.

There are always community projects going on while schools are out, for example during the December holidays help is needed in orphanages or the various homes for the poor this is a time when we have the opportunity to play Santa Claus. You can also use this time to do what the locals do and travel to other parts of the country.
Dates for the Year 2017:

April: Sat 8, Sat 22
May: Sat 6, Sat 20
June: Sat 3, Sat 17
July: Sat 1, Sat 15, Sat 29
August: Sat 12, Sat 26
September: Sat 9, Sat 23
October: Sat 7, Sat 21
November: Sat 4, Sat 18
December: Sat 2, Sat 16, Sat 30
Dates for the Year 2018:
January: Sat 13, Sat 27
February: Sat 10, Sat 24
March: Sat 10, Sat 24
April: Sat 7, Sat 21
May: Sat 5, Sat 19
June: Sat 2, Sat 16, Sat 30
July: Sat 14, Sat 28
August: Sat 11, Sat 25
September: Sat 8, Sat 22
October: Sat 6, Sat 20
November: Sat 3, Sat 17
December: Sat 1, Sat 15, Sat 29

Volunteers will stay with our host family for the length of their stay in San Isidro. The house where volunteers stay has all amenities included such as a home telephone where volunteerÂ’s relatives can reach them at any time and internet is also available at the local Computer Center for our volunteers to use free of charge.

As San Isidro Arenal is surrounded by jungle, during the weekends and evenings the volunteers can spend their free-time hiking and seeing the natural flora and fauna (with a local friend to guide them) and enjoy the incredible untempered landscapes surrounding the village, caves, underground caves, rivers, and waterfalls. There is also the opportunity to spend the weekends visiting the local ecotourism center in Cerro Chango (Monkey mountain) which is about ninety minutes outside of the town center. The local community runs the ecotourism center and they offer tourists cottages, rafting, bike, or horse ridding, hiking and mountain climbing.

Volunteers that choose to stay in San Isidro Arenal with our host family will receive three meals a day, seven days a week. If volunteers have any special food requirements (vegetarian/vegan/allergies etc.) they should let us know well ahead of time so our host family can accommodate these needs.

The climate in San Isidro Arenal tends to be warm and dry most of the year round, the rainiest season being between the months of May and September. However, even during these months you are unlikely to experience more than a light shower.

The state of Oaxaca’s weather is generally comfortable for walking around in and even during the coldest months (December and January), you will still find highs of 25ºC (77ºF) and nothing below 8ºC (47ºF).

San Isidro Arenal Weather Chart
Volunteer San Isidro Arenal Weather Image

San Isidro Arenal is a small "Chinateco" village inhabited with less than 500 people and is situated in the picturesque Sierra Mountains, in the north-east part of the state of Oaxaca.

To get to our T2T program in San Isidro we ask that our volunteers fly to Mexico City airport where there are buses that connect directly to Tuxtepec bus station in Xalapa, where our in country coordinator, Adriana, will be there to meet you and take you to our T2T volunteer house in Xalapa. There our volunteers can spend a night to relax after what is usually a long journey.

The following day Adriana will then accompany our volunteers via bus to our San Isidro Arenal program.

We at Travel to Teach recommend the ADO or OCC Premier or Executivo buses from Mexico City airport to Xalapa. The journey usually takes from around four to five hours without any stops and these buses have an onboard toilet, reclining chairs and on board movies, although theyÂ’re usually in Spanish!


Adriana, an anthropologist graduate from Tijuana, volunteered as an English and Spanish teacher in Nongkhai, Thailand in 2001. There she met our founder, Kerstin Ahlzen and instantly wanted to get involved in Travel to Teach. She has been running her own programme in Xalapa, Mexico since 2004. In her spare time she enjoys running around after her beautiful teenage daughter and swimming.

Mexico welcomes tourists and travelers from every country. For citizens from American, Canada, most European countries and Asia a visa is not required for up to 180 days and if in possession of a Tourist Card/FMT form, which is issued free of charge on flights into Mexico. (Australia, Iceland, Israel, Korea (Rep), Monaco, South Africa Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic and Slovenia who can stay for up to 90 days without a visa, and Venezuela for stays of up to 30 days). If staying for a longer period of time, a visa can be easily acquired from your local Mexican Embassy.

If you are planning to work in Cambodia then you will need to obtain a police records background check before starting your placement. For details on the application procedure in your home country please take a look at: www.travel-to-teach.org/CRB-information.php

At all other locations you will be required to abide by the Travel to Teach Child Protection Policy.

See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for immunizations to take effect. You will need vacinations for:

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
  • Hepatitis B
  • Rabies,
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow fever for travelers to Mexico who will be going outside urban areas.

Also visit the WHO's (World Health Organisation) Travelers health information

One of the conditions of entry onto our programs is that volunteers have travel insurance. Most importantly the insurance needs to include medical treatment and repatriation in case of unforeseen accidents or illnesses. Volunteers should purchase insurance independently and bring a copy of their insurance certificate with them for their local co-ordinator to check before starting their program. Read our terms and conditions.

You will get a Travel to Teach certificate stating the time and place you have been teaching.

All volunteers are required to read and agree to our terms and conditions before being accepted onto one our programs.
Read our Terms & Conditions
Download our Teach Terms and Conditions as a PDF File

Mexico Photo Dawn, USA
"What makes a trip truly special are the people you meet. From your students, to people you meet on the street....."
Read Dawn's Volunteer Story
Mexico Photo Lisa, USA
"Although I only got to spend 2 weeks in Xalapa, Mexico with Travel to Teach, I had an amazing time and felt like I accomplished as much as I could have in such a short time... "
Read Lisa's Volunteer Story