Learning Spanish in San Cristobal de las Casas

After some discussion and research, we decided to stay a couple more weeks in San Cristobal de las Casas and learn Spanish.  The most common way of learning Spanish in Central and South America is through a school that offers homestays in addition to classes - what this means is that we are taking Spanish classes for a few hours a day, and, in addition, we are staying in the home of a local family.  After speaking to a couple of local places, we decided to go with El Puente, a language school based on Calle Real de Guadalupe, one of the main streets in San Cristobal.  While classes are typically by the week, we decided to start classes ASAP, which meant on a Thursday, but not start the homestay until Saturday since we already had accommodations booked through then.

Evening stroll in San Cristobal, near our home stay

Our host is an older woman named Cristina.  She was born and raised in San Cristobal - she lives in the same house she was raised in!  She is a FANTASTIC cook, and we are going to be fat(-ter) by the end of our two weeks staying with her.  With this homestay, all of our meals are included, which means she cooks breakfast, lunch, and dinner for us daily.  Honestly, the price is ridiculously inexpensive - it's cheaper than anything we found in Guatemala and Colombia as well - and we really wanted to start learning Spanish so that we can communicate better with people we are meeting.  We had talked about flying to Colombia from San Cristobal to do classes, but this was a great deal and it's worked out well so far.  Her home is very nice - she has a pretty large garden for being pretty close to the center of the city, and she has an apple tree, peach tree, avocado tree, lime tree, tomato plants, etc.  While a lot of it is not completely in season right now, a lot of fruits and vegetables are grown close to San Cristobal and you can get fresh, delicious produce no matter the time of year.  She made a nopales (cactus) pico de gallo on Sunday, and it was delicious.  I'm not the biggest fan of nopales in the US, the texture is usually slimy to me, but hers was crunchy, really good, and not mushy at all.  Same with papaya - I usually find the texture to be awful, but it's been decent at her house.  The mangos have been perfect, too.

Since we're at Cristina's and in classes for two weeks, we're trying to get ourselves into a bit more of a routine than we have been used to over the past month and a half.  With this homestay, she keeps to a pretty regular schedule for meals (with our input!) - breakfast is at 8:00am, lunch at 2:00pm, dinner at 7:30pm.  Because of this, we're hoping to try and keep to this, for the most part:

  • 8:00am - desayuno con Cristina
  • 9:00am-12:00noon - la clase de espanol
  • 12:00noon-1:30pm - exercise - this includes walking (Melissa)/running (Adam) up this STEEP staircase to one of the many churches. It's not the legs that get you here, it's the thin air
  • 1:30pm-3:30pm - almuerza con Cristina, relax
  • 3:30pm-7:30pm - go to one of the many coffee shops in San Cristobal and review Spanish, do homework, etc.
  • 7:30pm - cena con Cristina
  • 8:00pm - relax and review Spanish vocabulary

Steps to Iglesia de Guadalupe.
These are not the steps we run, they're a piece of cake compared to that one.

We're hoping this works - it's early in the week, but so far so good.

After just a couple of days, everything is going well.  While it's awesome that we are getting good homecooked meals, it's a little disappointing that we don't get to explore the restaurants around San Cristobal a bit more.  It's interesting, the locals don't think the restaurants in San Cristobal are very good - but we kinda like them because they offer more of a variety than a lot of other places we've been in Mexico (we've had Argentinian, Lebanese, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Italian, Mexican, wings, etc.).  As city people, we're used to having our choice of cuisine, and we don't typically eat the same cuisine daily because we (especially me!) get sick of things quickly.  I like variety!

Tacos de longaniza.  Similar to chorizo, more locally used in San Cristobal.  Definitely the simplest meal Cristina has cooked for us, but delicious.  Adam wasn't able to sneak pictures of the delicious chicken dish and pork dish we had other days. Also pictured: a local craft beer and Cristina's homemade habanero salsa that we've nearly been drinking.

Tamales!  On Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, many vendors make
and sell tamales - Cristina bought these for dinner, she said they're 
so much effort to make and other people do a great job :).

I'm pretty happy that we've decided to settle down here for a couple more weeks.  It's a beautiful city, the rain is starting to lessen a bit, and we're learning Spanish.  Our next couple of weeks may not be the most exciting, but I'm excited for them.


  1. I like that you are immersing yourselves in the language and culture. Sounds like a great setup and better to take the classes now rather than later. There is something about routines and home cooked meals, in a way it gives you a little down time! Enjoy it!

  2. The rows of houses are so colorful, are they all like that??

  3. A lot of the houses on the residential streets are colorful - it's a really pretty, colonial town. And yes, the routine is nice - but we miss being able to eat at different restaurants!