Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

5 Colombian Rock en Español Songs Every Latin American Traveler Needs to Know

Posted on July 16th, 2014 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

When it comes to Latin American music, there’s one genre that is essential to know about: rock en Español. You may not care for salsa, like the drum-heavy beats of reggaeton, or get what all the fuss is with bachata these days, but rock en Español is a classic style of music that isn’t going anywhere. Learn the essentials, and you’ll be ready for just about any party, karaoke bar, disco, or impromptu get-together with newly made friends while you’re traveling in Central and South America.

Whether you’ve got plans to travel to Colombia or not, you can learn a lot by looking to this country for musical inspiration. Some of the greatest Spanish pop and rock legends come from Colombia, including some you’ve probably heard of in the U.S., like Shakira, and others most definitely worth listening to, like Aterciopelados and Juanes. No matter what, if you consider yourself more than just a vacationer, but rather a true Latin American traveler, it’s time to not only listen to these awesome rock en Español favorites, but to commit them to memory:

Shakira: Inevitable

In the late 1990s, before Shakira became a top-selling artist in the U.S., she rocked Latin America with hits in her native language. With lyrics like “You don’t have to say it. You’re not returning. I know you well.” you can guess what this one’s about. Shakira’s incredible vocal talents are on full display in Inevitable, and you’ll probably convince yourself you’re talented at belting out rock songs about shattered love once you’ve learned this song, too.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons, livepict.com

Juanes in Concert [Photo Credit: Creative Commons, livepict.com]

Juanes: La Camisa Negra

Juanes is loved by men and women alike thanks to a charming allure of movie star yet rugged good looks and smart lyrics that allow for various interpretations. In one of his greatest hits, La Camisa Negra, he sings “Que maldita, mala suerte la mía aquel día te encontré.” I’ll let you translate that one for yourself.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons, Joe Mabel

Aterciopelados in Concert [Photo Credit: Creative Commons, Joe Mabel]

Aterciopelados: El Album

Aterciopelados, led by the always mesmerizing Andrea Echeverri, is known for producing a unique mix of catchy and socially charged songs. From heartache to environmental activism, they cover it all in an unmistakable way that always stands out from other music that’s playing on the radio. El Album is one of their most well-known songs and has essentially been considered a classic from the time it was released in the late 1990s.

Los de Adentro: Una Canción

This hit from 1999 is perfect for all the guys who want their turn at singing a ballad about expressing your feelings and painfully accepting the fact that the woman you love is never coming back. With its somewhat upbeat sound and fast pace, you might not realize you’re singing about something sad if your Spanish is in less-than-perfect condition.

Shakira with Alejandro Sanz: La Tortura

Shakira’s a serious force to be reckoned with–especially her Spanish language songs–and when you pair her up with other major talents like Spain’s Alejandro Sanz you’re bound to get pure magic, which is just the case with La Tortura. He says “I know I haven’t been a saint, it’s just that I’m not made of cardboard.” She says “A man doesn’t live on bread alone, nor do I live on excuses.” And all you know is this staged argument makes for great music.

With the rock en Español genre evolving to include categories like folk and alternative, we can’t predict what the future will bring. Fortunately, we can rejoice in the great music–like the songs I’ve presented here–that Colombian artists brought us in the late 1990s and early 2000s. You know what to do if you’ve got a Latin American trip on the horizon. Practice your Spanish, and most importantly, practice your Spanish rock songs.

Top 5: Hostels to Book for Your Upcoming Vacation to Ecuador

Posted on July 3rd, 2014 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

All budget-conscious travelers know that they have to carefully choose where and how to spend their money. One of my favorite ways to save money while traveling is to stay at hostels as opposed to traditional hotels or inns. From your basic $8 per night bunk-bed to over-the-top private rooms with triple-digit nightly fees, the term “hostel” is certainly flexible in terms of what types of amenities you can expect and what you’ll pay. Luckily, in Ecuador, there are many affordable options that offer travelers a clean, safe, and friendly place to get a good night’s sleep. If a trip to Ecuador is on your radar, I encourage you to check out these top hostels and others in the cities and neighborhoods you’re visiting.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons, Cayambe

Photo Credit: Creative Commons, Cayambe

Community Hostel in Quito

As the name implies, there’s a feeling of community and even camaraderie among employees and guests at this lovely hostel. While you may pay a couple dollars more than at other basic hostels in the area, it’s worth it to be surrounded by happy and helpful staff members and respectful travelers, as opposed to some of those less than savory characters we’ve all encountered at one point or another in our hostel stays. Comfy beds, a well-kept kitchen, and a TV room with projector are a few of the highlights at the property, and every guest should be sure to take advantage of the free walking tour of the neighborhood offered daily. Delicious breakfasts and dinners are available for a reasonable fee.

Mallki Hostel in Cuenca

Any hostel that has a dog at the front door to greet travelers gains points in my book. Mallki Hostel is not only a lovely property, but the location is excellent. They even have like-new bikes that guests can borrow to aid in their exploration of the city. After a busy day or two out on the town, guests can relax with a quiet night in, spent on the balcony overlooking the neighborhood and chatting it up with fellow travelers. The staff is always ready to suggest lots of night-time activities if you’re ready to paint the night red!

Hostal Macaw in Guayaquil

The outdoor space at Hostal Macaw may be its most attractive feature, with a sweet little courtyard and garden offering seating where guests can take in some sun, read through their guidebooks, or just reflect on their journey. Mosaic tiling, artwork, and plants all contribute to the tasteful decor. It is conveniently located just a few blocks from a major shopping mall in case you forgot any essentials back home. The home-cooked breakfast is anything but standard, and even those who have an early departure in the morning receive a bagged meal to enjoy on the road. Delightful!

Photo Credit: Creative Commons, Martin Zeise

Photo Credit: Creative Commons, Martin Zeise

La Casa Verde in Baños 

The owners at La Casa Verde go out of their way to be environmentally aware of their actions and to encourage guests to do the same. They offer free drinking water refills, prepare an organic breakfast each morning, and even give longer term guests free access to pick their own vegetables from the onsite garden. The beautiful shared spaces have a lot of personality, especially the stairway area on the main floor where up-cycled glass bottles create a beautiful design in the wall.

Hostal Oasis in Riobamba

Beautiful stone walls and a lovely garden set the scene at Hostal Oasis. The friendly owners are known for mingling with the guests, offering up their advice and helping travelers plan tours, taxi pick-ups, and other important details. A 10-minute walk or $2 cab ride takes you into town, and upon your return you can enjoy relaxing in front of the modest fireplace in the indoor lounge.

As you venture into more remote areas of Ecuador, you’ll discover fewer and fewer English speakers around you. Be sure to practice your Spanish before you go so you’ll be prepared to talk to hostel owners, taxi drivers, tour guides, and others throughout your vacation in Ecuador. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you learn Spanish or enhance your current skills.

Plan an Unforgettable Vacation to Belize with These Not-to-be-Missed Activities

Posted on June 13th, 2014 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Few Americans know these key facts about Belize:  It is located just south of Mexico, the population is calculated to be just under 300,000 people, and its natural beauty is overwhelming. While its neighbor to the north, Mexico, attracts millions of international visitors each year, only the most in-the-know travelers have discovered all that Belize has to offer. If you’re excited at the prospect of venturing a bit further south to a less known destination, check out these unique tourist activities in Belize and get ready to book your ticket.

Snorkeling with Sharks in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve

With four sections, called “The Reef,” “The Seagrass Beds,” “The Mangroves,” and “Shark Ray Alley,” the Hol Chan Marine Reserve is a snorkeler’s paradise. “Hol Chan” is Mayan for “little channel,” and this area is nestled in a break that runs through the reef. The water is remarkably clear, and visitors get to swim alongside dozens of eagle rays, tropical fish, green turtles, and the big one–sharks. Not to worry, though, nurse sharks don’t pose a threat to humans. One word of wisdom–while you’re safe from a shark attack, don’t get caught between a ray and and its food or you might just get sucked on!

 

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Photo Credit: Creative Commons, Cayambe

Hanging out with Iguanas in San Ignacio

Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to hold a green iguana–or ten!–at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel’s Green Iguana Conservation Project. The project aims to educate locals and visitors about the the importance of these docile creatures in local ecosystems and repopulate the area. While visiting, you’ll be able to hold one iguana or even let a whole gang of them crawl all over you. Be sure to plan a visit, especially if you have kids.

Cave Tubing in Belize City

You’ll have your pick of wet and wild or mellow and relaxing when choosing a cave tubing tour in Belize. Float peacefully along a jungle river then into complete darkness as you enter the caves. Guides help spot out stalagmites and stalactites, which you can focus on with provided headlamps, and you may be treated to wildlife viewings as well. Round out your cave tubing adventure by adding on activities like zip lining, hiking, and other outdoor excursions.

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Photo Credit: Creative Commons, Bernt Rostad

Climbing an Ancient Pyramid in Lamanai 

This stunning archeological site features three large pyramids known as the Mask, Jaguar, and High Temples. While Mexico and Central America are home to many ancient ruins, Lamanai is one of a limited number that allows guests to climb the stairs. Naturally, the view from above is incredible.

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Photo Credit: U.S. Geological Society

Scuba Diving at the Great Blue Hole

No attraction in Belize is more well known that the Great Blue Hole. Aerial shots of this natural wonder show just how mysterious this one-of-a-kind scuba diving destination is. After a long boat ride, adventure-seekers jump into the center of the hole and start a descent to as much as 130 feet or deeper to see tropical fish, rock formations, and a wall of coral reef that is teeming with all kinds of life. A visit to the Great Blue Hole is regarded by many as the one thing no tourist can miss when visiting Belize.

No matter what tours you book, you’ll appreciate your ability to understand and speak at least a little Spanish if you’re headed to Belize soon, so be sure to contact us to learn about how we can help you brush up on your skills before then. Good luck planning your trip and discovering the hidden highlights of this tiny, but mesmerizing, country!

¡Delicioso! 5 Mexican-Inspired Dishes that Kids Love

Posted on May 23rd, 2014 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Mexico’s cuisine is one of the most kid-friendly options around. Even if your kids are picky, you may be surprised to see them embrace Mexican food. It’s not difficult to find the basic ingredients for the most popular Mexican dishes in your average grocery store, making it easy to incorporate them into your regular dinner routine. And if your children are studying Spanish, eating Mexican cuisine is a great way to help them learn new words and understand more about a Spanish-speaking culture throughout its food. Alternatively, if your family is preparing for a vacation to Mexico, sampling the cuisine is a fun way to get everyone even more excited about the upcoming trip! Here are some simple and delicious Mexican-inspired dishes you’ll want to try with your family.

1. Quesadillas

When it comes to kid-friendly foods, quesadillas are a guaranteed hit. Though the U.S. version we’re used to seeing in chain restaurants is far from the traditional Mexican version, the general idea is this: flour tortillas are stuffed with lots of cheese and other ingredients then grilled. Kids love that quesadillas are meant to be picked up and eaten with their hands–no utensils needed! Parents can take the idea of a quesadilla and modify it in an infinite number of ways. Try blending shredded cheddar with spinach and chicken, or black beans with red pepper and American cheese. With a gooey, cheesy center and a crispy, toasted outside, you can’t go wrong with a homemade quesadilla.

2. Tacos

Tacos have earned somewhat of a following in recent years with everyone from food truck cooks to chefs at upscale establishments getting in on the trend. But don’t worry too much about how to prepare the perfect taco–instead, just have some fun. Tacos are great for kids because they can get involved in the preparation. Let your kids help you set up a filling station that has bowls full of pinto beans, shredded cheese, sour cream, chives, diced olives, and lots more. Invite your kids to be part of the prep and planning process and they’ll be more excited about eating what they’ve helped create.

photo credit: Ashwini Biradar

Photo Credit: Creative Commons, Ashwini Biradar

3. Tamales

Variations of this traditional dish can be found throughout Latin American, and few meals are prepared with as much love and effort as a batch of homemade tamales. In essence, a tamale is corn meal, broth, and a variety of ingredients packed inside corn husks, then steamed. Fortunately, you can customize tamales based on what your kids like. If they don’t like the usual shredded pork, olives, chiles, cumin and other fillings, try something a bit more basic. Make sure you get help from friends or senior family members as making tamales is most enjoyable when you’re doing it in a group.

4. Smothered Potatoes

Take inspiration from the basics found in many traditional Mexican dishes to come up with your own “Mexican-inspired” dish, like smothered potatoes. Pan fry diced potatoes and let your kids have fun covering them in the staples of Mexican cuisine–beans, cheese, shredded meat, cabbage, and maybe even a dash of hot sauce on top!

photo credit: Juan Mejuto

Photo Credit: Creative Commons, Juan Mejuto

5. Churros

Don’t forget dessert when it comes time to make a Mexican meal! Churros are fried dough, somewhat similar to an American-style donut. Buy a boxed mix at a Mexican grocery store or look up a recipe online if you’d rather make your own from scratch. This is one traditional Mexican food your kids are sure to enjoy!

Remember that we’re always just a quick email away if you decide you’d like to learn Spanish so you can explore Mexican culture even more and maybe even plan a visit. Contact us if you’d like to learn more about Spanish classes and private language instruction. Have fun trying all these Mexican dishes and good luck getting your kids excited about another country’s cuisine!

4 Places to Visit in Bogota, Colombia that are Off the Beaten Path

Posted on May 9th, 2014 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Photo credit: Creative Commons, Mariordo

Photo credit: Creative Commons, Mariordo

 As anyone who’s been there knows firsthand, there’s no shortage of things to do while vacationing in Bogota, Colombia. Whether you prefer to spend your time outdoors, exploring a bustling city, or indoors, learning about its impressive history, a traveler could easily spend months getting to know this vibrant city. But some of us are looking for attractions that are a little less crowded. After you’ve visited the Museo de Oro and rode the cable car at Mount Montserrate, why not get venture off the beaten bath and pay a visit to these equally entertaining spots?

Photo credit: Creative Commons, Pedro Felipe

Photo credit: Creative Commons, Pedro Felipe

1. Parque Jaime Duque

With everything from a replica of the Taj Mahal to an arcade, this park is likely to be described as quirky, interesting, and unexpected. It has a wide variety of things to see and experience and makes a great destination for families with young children in tow. Located in Tocancipa, just about half an hour outside Bogota, it is considered by many to be one of Colombia’s hidden tourist treasures. The eclectic property is home to a zoo, exhibits on the 7 wonders of the world, giant dinosaurs, informative displays about Colombia, and lots more. Between the variety of exhibit topics and low entry fees, this larger-than-life park is fun and affordable for everyone.

2. Usaquen Street Market

Forget the mass-produced souvenirs that were made in some country far away and treat yourself to a visit to the Usaquen Street Market to buy some truly local handmade goods. This massive market comes alive each Sunday and has rightfully earned a reputation as one of Colombia’s most exciting all-in-one eating and shopping destinations. You’ll even get to watch some of the artists in action as you peruse the kiosks and stands, sampling corn, patacones, and other street food staples as you go. There are lots of great restaurants and bars in this upbeat colonial neighborhood, making it all too easy to spend the whole day in Usaquen.

3. La Chorrera Waterfall

Leave the city behind for a day and fit in a challenging workout by visiting La Chorrera, Colombia’s tallest waterfall. Travelers can book a tour or make the journey out to the trailhead for themselves, depending on how adventurous they are feeling. Though the hike takes just about an hour and half each way, the trail is steep and you may not be able to resist the urge to take a swim to cool off at the foot of the waterfall. There is beautiful scenery along the way–both on the roads out of Bogota and on the trail itself.

 

Photo credit: Creative Commons, masanalv

Photo credit: Creative Commons, masanalv

 

4. Suesca Rock Climbing Zone

Located about two hours outside Bogota, the Suesca rock climbing zone is a natural series of cliffs that runs alongside train tracks. With more than a hundred charted climbing routes, there are options for the most novice or advanced climbers. It is located right outside a large town by the same name, where visitors can find a traditional meal or rent a bike to explore more of the area. Not many tourists make this trek, so Suesca is a great place to meet locals while spending some time in the Great Outdoors. Make sure you brush up on your Spanish before venturing out to this area so you’ll be able to strike up a conversation with some fellow climbers!

Remember to contact us before your trip to Bogota and we’ll help make sure you’ve mastered the basics of the language.

4 Things You Should Consider Before Accepting a Job in Chile

Posted on April 11th, 2014 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

If you’ve received an offer to work in Chile, you’re probably already dreaming of an entirely different lifestyle than the one you currently have. Afternoon siestas, late nights out on the town, weekends exploring the Patagonian mountains–there’s plenty to dream about when it comes to this South American country. But before you accept that job offer or transfer to Chile, you have lots to learn about the people, the climate, the cost of living, and other important details. Not sure where to start? Check out this list of 4 things you should consider before accepting a job in Chile and leaving your U.S. life behind.

1) You won’t work less hours.
Many expats expect that their work week will shorten once they move abroad. We all hear those stories about countries where workers get 8 weeks of vacation a year, take 3 hours off every day for a siesta, or consider a 6-hour workday to be long enough. Chile is not one of those countries. Yes, you may sneak away for a nap if you happen to live in a more rural area, but chances are that if you’re relocating for a new job, you’ll be positioned in or near the capital. Santiago is a modern, fast-paced city, and businesses that encourage employees to take a daily siesta are few and far between. In fact, Chile has been ranked as the country with the highest amount of working hours in the world, with the average employee working about 48 hours a week. To put that into perspective, consider these numbers: The average U.S. worker puts in 1,695 hours per year while the average Chilean worker puts in 2.068 hours per year. That’s a surplus of nearly 400 hours annually.

2) The work attitude is not the same as in the U.S.
Though the work week is typically longer in Chile, the work attitude is not the same as what you’re likely used to in the U.S. Emails may go unanswered for a few days. Phone calls might not be returned. That report you expected on Monday may not arrive until Thursday. Though Chile is serious about working, on a whole, they’re not that interested in timeliness and efficiency.

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3) You better know Spanish.
After moving to Chile, you’ll quickly realize that your English won’t take you very far. If you’re employed in an English-speaking work environment, you may be able to technically get by with the language, but your interactions with others will be tragically limited. If you don’t speak Spanish, you’ll be stuck going to the American style grocery store instead of visiting the local shops and street markets, and you won’t be able to make friends when you’re out exploring your new country. Make sure you take lessons and develop your Spanish skills before you make the move.

Photo by Victor San Martin, Flickr

Photo by Victor San Martin, Flickr

4) You’ll probably live in a big city.
If you imagine rural living, you may be shocked to discover yourself living in a much bigger metropolis than you did in the States. There are more than 17 million people living in Chile, and approximately 90% of them live in cities and large towns. Santiago alone is home to about half of the country’s population.

Chile has its own distinct charm unlike anywhere else. Many call it the slightly more reserved Latin American nation, less boisterous than its noisier and more flamboyant neighbors. From beautiful colonial architecture, to unparalleled natural beauty, to a growing international trade market, it offers something for everyone. If you’re about to accept a job there, we invite you to contact us to learn more about the Spanish instruction classes we offer. Whether you are brand new to the language or just need some help brushing up your skills, we have a variety of options to help you prepare for the move.

3 Not-to-be-Missed Tourist Activities in Costa Rica

Posted on March 29th, 2014 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Costa Rica makes a perfect destination for nearly any traveler. Whether you’re looking for remote rainforest wilderness, a bustling beach town, or a thriving capital city full of museums and markets, this Central American country delivers. And when it comes to activities, there is something for everyone. Adrenaline seekers, beach loungers, and nature lovers will find everything they could ask for in a vacation in Costa Rica. If you’re thinking about planning your trip–as if you needed to be convinced!–make sure you take a look at these 3 unique tourist activities that are not to be missed in the tropical paradise that is Costa Rica.

Watch turtles nesting in Tortuguero.
Tortuguero is a protected turtle nesting zone located on Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean Coast. It can only be reached by boat, which just adds to the allure of this small town. There are no vehicles, no paved roads, and a generally slower-paced, more enjoyable vibe to this unassuming town. Schedule a night walk along the beach where your only light is provided by the moon, and, if you’re lucky, you may spot a mother turtle making a nest and laying her eggs. This is a remote corner of Costa Rica and you won’t find much English here, so make sure your Spanish is in good shape before embarking on this unforgettable journey.

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Peer inside a volcano’s crater in the Central Valley.
Costa Rica is full of volcanos, which can lead to some pretty incredible scenery. Even as you arrive in San Jose’s Juan Santamaria International Airport, you’ll notice that mountains and volcanoes create a dramatic scene all around the Central Valley. You have your pick of volcanoes to visit, all within easy driving distance of the capital. Several in the surrounding area have been declared parks and make for excellent day trips. If you prefer to drive your way almost to the top, choose Volcan Poas. If you’d rather walk some well manicured trails, admiring the vegetation along the way, you’ll want to visit Volcan Irazu.

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Climb trees on the Pacific Coast.
Recreational tree climbing may be one of the most unique tours in Costa Rica. If you’re up for a physical challenge that rewards you with some incredible views at 80 feet or more off the ground, you’ll want to give the folks at Upventures a call. With monkey and scarlet macaw viewings quite common, this may be your best bet at getting side by side with local wildlife. Even better, join them for a tree camping expedition–this is one of only a few places in the world where a tour like this is offered.

Turtle tours, volcano viewing, and tree climbing are just three of the many exciting activities a traveler can seek in Costa Rica. Whether it’s your first time traveling to Latin America or you have many such trips under your belt, Costa Rica will win you over with its natural beauty and charm. If you’re ready to schedule your trip, we encourage you to contact us first to learn more about the Spanish learning opportunities we offer near you. Happy travels!

Top 4 Hostels Worth Visiting in Argentina

Posted on March 15th, 2014 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Argentina is known for its legendary steakhouse meals, growing wine scene, and stunning natural landscapes. It’s also known for being one of the more pricey tourist destinations in South America. If you’re looking to save a few dollars during your Argentinean vacation, staying in hostels is a great way to do it. Here are four hostels, in four different Argentinean cities, that will ensure you get a good night’s rest while sticking to budget:

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Portal del Sur in Buenos Aires
The Portal del Sur is located in a charming old building right in the middle of all the action in Buenos Aires. It comes with plenty of standard perks, such as free breakfast, wifi, and a computer room, but the best feature is the rooftop terrace. Guests congregate at the bar for the views and the company, plus to try some traditional Argentinean BBQ for themselves. The hostel even offers free tango lessons, spanish tours, mate tastings, and walking tours of the city. It is a true gem in the hostel scene of Buenos Aires.

La Posta Hostel in Ushuaia
Backpacking travelers who are tired of bunk beds will love having their own single bed in the dorm rooms at La Posta. Couples, families, and those searching for a bit more privacy can choose from a double room or quadruple room, which come with lock boxes for safe storage. Guests can expect personal advice and guidance from the caring owners and staff, plus a delicious breakfast they’ll be raving about long after their checkout. Onsite parking is a major convenience for travelers who are renting a car.

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Garden Stone Hostel in Puerto Iguazu
Located just a 10-minute walk away from the bus station that takes you to the Iguazu Falls is one of the greatest attractions to this simple hostel. Both shared and private rooms are available, plus breakfast is included. The property’s lush gardens and pool are what really make it special. Oh, and they conveniently sell cold water and beer at reception–something any traveler will appreciate after a long day of hiking.

Greenhouse Hostel in San Carlos de Bariloche
The rooms are clean and have lots of amenities, but the real reason this hostel is a favorite among travelers is the attentive service given by the owners. They are happy to offer advice, give you directions, and ensure you have a fantastic visit to the mesmerizing Bariloche area. The hostel is just steps from the lake, and near other area attractions as well. The sparkling clean kitchen looks like it belongs in someone’s home, not in a hostel, making it all the more inviting for self-catering guests.

If you’re planning a visit to Argentina, now’s the time to take some Spanish lessons. Whether you already have a good foundation or are new to the language, you’ll be glad you brushed up on your skills before making the trip! Contact us to learn more about the language instruction options available in your area.

Top 5 Places to Visit in Uruguay

Posted on February 28th, 2014 by Dusty Fox in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Though it’s a relatively popular vacation destination for South Americans, Uruguay is largely undiscovered by travelers from North America. Situated south of Brazil and alongside Argentina, many travelers are unaware of the charm of this beautiful country. From beaches to islands to centuries-old neighborhoods, Uruguay may be just the low-key, lower-cost alternative you’re looking for in a South American destination. These are just a handful of the places you’ll want to visit if you book a trip to Uruguay:

Barrio Historico in Colonia de Sacramento
If you’re vacationing in Buenos Aires and are looking for a quiet, relaxed retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, Barrio Historico is the place to go. This preserved town features cobblestone walkways and colonial buildings, and the most interesting mainstay may be the old, parked cars that have become part of the landscape. Hire a guide for a walking tour of the town or visit the small, unpretentious museums and you’ll learn fascinating bits of information about the area.

Mercado Agricola in Montevideo
Montevideo’s agricultural market recently went through a major renovation and now offers visitors the cleanliness and organization of a modern market with the charm and history of a scene that’s been around for over 100 years. Tourists and locals both congregate in this beautiful indoor market, where traditional stalls selling fruits and vegetables are just the tip of the iceberg. Come to sample lots of food, artisan beer, and homemade ice cream, plus browse through the unique shops.

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Casapueblo in Punta Ballena
This stunningly unique property is a hotel, museum, and cafe created by Uruguayan artist Paez Vilaro. The shape of the building is unlike anything else, parts of it seeming to melt under the hot sun while others showcase a blend of architectural styles and detailing. Located on a cliff at the water’s edge, visitors gather for the sunset every evening. The most fortunate of guests get to meet the artist for themselves while everyone is welcome to purchase a piece of his artwork from the gallery.

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Punta del Este Beaches
Miles of gorgeous white-sand beaches ensure you can’t go wrong with a visit to Punta del Este. Visit the famous fingers statue on Playa Brava then take a dip in the beach’s calm waters. There are restaurants, bars, and cafes for every taste, from casual to formal, though there’s a generally upscale feeling to much of the area.

Piriapolis Lookout Points
You have your choice of numerous lookout points when it comes to taking in the views in Piriapolis. In a country generally known for its flat terrain, you might just find the uphill hiking exhilarating, and you will most certainly appreciate the views from the top of Cerro San Antonio, Cerro Pan de Azucar, or Cerro del Toro. It’s easy and enjoyable to spend a day or two strolling along the beachfront main strip, eating and drinking your way through town.

If you have a trip to Uruguay coming up, there’s no better time to learn some Spanish or brush up on your existing skills with language instruction classes. If you would like to learn more about the programs we offer, contact us and we’d be happy to answer any of your questions or help you get signed up right away.

The Best Places to See in Venezuela

Posted on February 5th, 2014 by Samuel Max in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The country sitting at the top of South America contains some of the most stunning natural scenery you could ask for, and while some of it you might know, some of it you probably don’t. So without further adieu, what are the best places to see in Venezuela?

 

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  1. Angel Falls. This UNESCO World Heritage site was discovered in the 1930s by an American pilot that crash landed in the region. Now the Angel Falls can only be accessed by boat or plane, but it’s worth it to see the highest uninterrupted waterfall in the world, at 979 meters.
  2. Los Roques Archipelago National Park. 350 islands with pristine with sandy beaches and clear blue waters. There’s coral reef, scuba diving, and a wide variety of seabirds and aquatic life, the perfect place to relax and take in the sun.
  3. Margarita Island. With a name like that you’d expect there to be a lot of clubs and bars…You’d be right. The island is famous for it’s clubs, duty free shopping, big hotels, colonial towns, and of course beaches.
  4. El Ávila National Park. By taking a cable car to the top, you get a picturesque view of Caracas and the Caribbean, enjoy a meal at a restaurant, ice skate and go shopping.
  5. Cueva del Guácharo National Park. You might notice by now that there are a few national parks in Venezuela, for good reason too, Cueva del Guácharo contains a limestone cavern over 10 km long, and features the Oilbird — Also known as the guácharo.
  6. Médanos de Coro National Park. This park rests on the Isthmus of Médanos, and covers both desert and coastal habitats. You might have noticed I said desert, yes, Venezuela is a tropical country with beautiful greenery and beaches, but it also features this dune filled sandy park, perfect for sand-boarding!
  7. Miraflores Palace. The official workplace of the president, located in Caracas, the capital city. The building features some stunning architecture and is well worth a look during your inevitable time in Caracas.

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You can help make your trip here all the more enjoyable by learning some Spanish, English is not as widely spoken as you might like, so skimping in this area could get you into trouble. Don’t fret though, if you need a little help getting your Spanish up to standard, consider taking some classes, or inquire about anything you’re not sure of.