Our Mexican program is currently on hold but will soon start again.
Xalapa-Enríquez, commonly known as Xalapa or Jalapa, is the capital city of the Mexican state of Veracruz. It is located 140km west of the port of Veracruz in a mountainous region with average year-round temperatures of around 18°C (64.4°F). This city is great for the culture vultures amongst us and a fantastic place for groups of volunteers.
The city, known for its eclectic architectural offerings, has buildings that are a blend of Neoclassic, Moorish and Neogothic styles, as you’ll see in such edifices as the Palacio de Gobierno, the Palacio Municipal, and the Cathedral. As you walk along the cobblestone streets you’ll also come across interesting attractions like the Xalapa Anthropology Museum, one of the nation’s most important museums. There you can see an important collection of archaeological pieces from the Olmec, Totonac, and Huastec cultures, communities that inhabited the region during the pre-hispanic era.
Thanks to its rich cultural heritage, Xalapa hosts important artistic and cultural events, such as the International Jazz Festival and the June Music Festival, which is organized by the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra. The city also offers various food festivals and restaurants where you can delight in delicious regional cuisine.
If you are a fan of traditional Mexican food, Xalapa is the place for you; offering dozens of restaurants selling the best tacos covered in the traditional local mole (chocolate and chili) sauce.
Our volunteers can also choose to teach English in various Kindergartens, and Primary and Secondary schools around Xalapa and on the outskirts of the city. English has been part of the public education program for many years but only at the secondary and preparatory levels, the English that is taught is quite basic. Through these programs Travel to Teach hopes to be able to give the children a head start with their future education and also open doors for future employment.
Our volunteers can also choose to teach local teachers English pronunciation and English grammar to help sustain a good level of English teaching after we’ve left. We teach and help the teachers in neglected areas of Xalapa, usually on the outskirts of the city and also in an inner city evening school for workers.
Our volunteers work with three local foster homes in the Xalapa area. One is actually a halfway house for runaways or child workers and it houses around fifteen young boys. One is a foster home that currently houses twenty-one young girls from ages of 2 to 18, and the other is an all boys foster home on the outskirts of the city. Our volunteers teach English, Painting, Dancing and other recreational activities that they feel they can organise during the afternoons. We strongly encourage volunteers to help with tutoring in a variety of different educational subjects.
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Read how your fees are spent or compare our
prices with other volunteer organisations.
View our prices in other volunteer locations's or combine your stay in with stays in other locations as part of a combination stay.
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.
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 2014:
August: Sat 30
September: Sat 13, Sat 27
October: Sat 11, Sat 25
November: Sat 8, Sat 22
|December: Sat 6, Sat 20|
|January: Sat 3, Sat 17, Sat 31
February: Sat 14, Sat 28
March: Sat 14, Sat 28
April: Sat 11, Sat 25
|May: Sat 9, Sat 23
June: Sat 6, Sat 20
July: Sat 4, Sat 18
August: Sat 1, Sat 15, Sat 29
|September: Sat 12, Sat 26
October: Sat 10, Sat 24
November: Sat 7, Sat 21
December: Sat 5, Sat 19
In Xalapa our volunteers stay in the Travel to Teach volunteer house in central of Xalapa.
The Travel to Teach volunteer is made up of three bedrooms, three bathrooms, three communal areas; a large spacious kitchen, dining room and living room, with a perfect place to sunbath on the roof of the house. The house is located in a private plaza set back off from the main street and is away from the hustle and bustle of the city and is very safe. Depending on the number of placements at any given time, volunteers may have their own room, of course they may also have to share a room with other volunteers if the program is very busy.
The volunteer house is very accessible and our volunteers can easily walk to and from the city’s center, as well as explore the local streets where they will find a plethora of eateries, tienditas (little shops), markets, pharmacies, bread shops, and cheese shops...the list is endless!
There are lots of things to do on weekends or in your spare time either in Xalapa or the surrounding areas.
There are a seemingly endless selection of restaurants, eateries, taquerias, sushi restaurants, ice cream vendors, and sandwich shops throughout the city - so if you love to dine, Xalapa is the place for you!
Also, there are a plethora of gyms and workout facilities throughout the city that provide anything from yoga and pilates classes, to Muay Thai boxing, spinning classes, and salsa-based exercise classes. For those who simply enjoy an occasional jog or run, locals tend to go to Los Lagos (the lakes) - which are but a short 10-15 minute walk from the dorm or home-stay house. There are five man-made lakes in a row that offer beautiful views and a very comfortable running environment. There are also several public basketball courts, football (or soccer) fields, and tennis courts which are mostly located on the university campus where volunteers can go to play their game of choice - locals are generally very willing to join in a game as well!
For those that like to shop there are a variety of markets, malls and shops, that offer everything from the latest fashions to locally produced goods. The Callejon de Diamantes (alleyway of Diamonds - although they dont sell any) is a hub for local artisans, where you can find all sorts of locally produced crafts. The night life in Xalapa is fantastic and the city has a wide variety of bars, clubs and cantinas to choose from. You can enjoy a ceveza or two whilst you listen to the live bands and local music.
There are several nearby towns and beauty spots to visit at the weekends, for example Veracruzs beaches which are only an hour and a half away where you can top up your tan. The town of Coatapec is less than an hour away and offers great markets, shopping, and restaurants and the beautiful picturesque town of Xico is just past Coatepec and is known for its beautiful waterfalls and is the best local town to buy hand made cowboy boots. It is definitely worth the trip!
Xalapa has a plethora of traditional Mexican restaurants, street food stalls, and two very good Italian restaurants, one of which is within close walking distance to the volunteer house. If you choose to stay with our Xalapa host family instead of at the volunteer house, then three meals will be provided for you per day, Monday-Friday.
If you ever need your junk food fix the city does have a Burger King and a Subway (fast food sandwiches). Just outside of the city center, a taxi distance away at a cost of approximately 20 pesos, there is a large shopping mall with lots of fast food restaurants as well. Additionally, there are supermarkets and markets within the city where you can buy good fresh food should you wish to cook for yourself at the volunteer house.
The climate in Xalapa is semi-humid, but the city is relatively cool being located in the mountains over 1400 metres above sea level. The climate can be variable, having a maximum temperature of 37°C (98°F) and a minimum ranging from 0°C (32°F) to 10 °C (50°C). On average the temperature does not fluctuate greatly all year round with an average annual temperature of 18°C (64.4°F).
The warmer season in Xalapa tends to fall between March and reaching a peak in May when the average high reaches 28 °C (82.4°F) and low of 17°C (62°F). The cooler season is late December, January and February with an average low of 11°C (52°F) and an average high of 22°C (71.6°F). The rainy season where we recommend for our volunteers to bring a rain Mack, a pair of Wellington boots and an umbrella, usually falls between May and July, but can sometimes extend into the months August and September.
Xalapa Weather Chart
Xalapa-Enríquez, commonly known as Xalapa or Jalapa, is the capital city of the Mexican state of Veracruz. It is situated in eastern-central Mexico, approximately 55 miles (90 km) northwest of Veracruz city and roughly 350 kilometres from Mexico City.
The city of Xalapa is located beneath the volcanic peaks of the Sierra Madre Oriental, at an elevation that oscillates from 1400 metres to 1700 metres above sea level, and is surrounded in lush tropical vegetation.
We at Travel to Teach recommend the ADO or OCC Premier or Executivo buses from Mexico City airport bus station or Mexico City’s TAPO bus station 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 they’re usually in Spanish!
Our in country coordinator will meet you at the bus station in Xalapa.
For further information on bus time tables and costs please visit:
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.
Sandra is originally from Mexico’s capital of Mexico City. A graduated Chef, she has been working for Adriana for the past two years. She is her mid-twenties and is bilingual.
Miguel is our Spanish teacher. A Spanish and French student at the University of Xalapa he loves language and is always thrilled and eager to teach Spanish to our volunteers. He is great company and volunteers have always noted how hes always a welcome (and fun) guest to have at dinners and parties!
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:
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.