Frequently Asked Questions: Teacher Institute
How are you different from other teacher institutes or conferences?The Habla teacher institute is not a collection of separate presentations and workshops. For the teacher institute, educators and artists from leading organizations around the world collaborate throughout the year planning the teacher institute and then during the institute they spend the week at Habla as presenters and participants. The institute is formed around a series of questions that all presenters and participants investigate together.
In addition to the institute, Habla offers traditional Yucatecan food, a closing party at a Mexican estate, optional arts workshops, and excursions that are offered to Mayan ruins and to ecological sites in the Yucatan. Many local educators attend the institute as well, so although the institute has an international reach, it is always locally grounded.
Is Merida safe?Merida, and Yucatan state, is statistically one of the safest regions to visit in Mexico. Our streets are very safe and calm and it’s not a problem at all to walk around the city. Visitors to Merida feel it is one of the most tranquil cities they have visited. You may have read about the recent drug wars in Mexico. These are occurring much further north in Mexico near the border with the United States, not in Yucatan state or Merida.
What is your building like? Where are you located?Visit a photo gallery of our classroom spaces, gardens, galleries, and community gathering spaces here. We are located in one of the nicest sections of Merida (the Northeast part of the city) in a spacious building surrounded by beautiful gardens. All of our classrooms have large windows opening to Habla’s gardens. We are located within a short walking distance of cafes, restaurants, and bars.
We are easily accessible by means of the city’s major bus lines that stop directly in front of our school.
Can I receive college credit?We do not offer university or teacher certification credits. In some cases universities or education departments will award credit for the Habla Teacher Institute. This needs to be arranged between you and your local department or university before you arrive. We will be happy to provide curricular documentation and descriptions of our programs to help facilitate the process.
Should I bring my laptop? Do you have wireless Internet at Habla?We have free wireless available at our school. Like any place, it is important to keep an eye on your computer, but it is fine to bring your computer here and use it on a daily basis.
How far is your school from the beach?Habla is about 20 minutes from Progreso, a small town located on the beach with a beautiful Malecon (ocean walkway) and many restaurants serving fresh shrimp, octopus, and fish from the ocean. The ocean water is warm year-round and perfect for swimming.
How far are you from Mayan sites?Merida is located near the most extraordinary sites in the Mayan world. We are about an hour drive to Uxmal and an hour and a half from Chichen Itzá. There are also many sites located just outside the city. We can help you arrange a tour to sites or let you know how to take public transportation.
Do I need a passport or visa?If you are visiting from the United States you are now required to have a passport to enter Mexico if traveling by air. No visa is needed if you are from the United States. If you are visiting us from Brazil you do need a visa and please arrange for it significantly ahead of time. For other countries please check with the Mexican embassy in your home country. When you show your passport at the airport be sure to save the entry form they hand back to you—you will need it when you leave.
What do I need to bring?The sun is very strong here so we suggest you pack sunscreens, sunglasses, and hats (sunscreens are expensive here, so we recommend you buy them in the your own country). You should also pack insect repellent for mosquitoes. The “family” versions of repellents work fine: no need for deep woods or other strong repellents. We also suggest you bring a digital camera along with your downloading cord. We often use photography as part of our work at the institute, so bringing your own cord will ensure you can download it to our computers.
Do I need to bring adaptors for my electrical equipment?Our outlets and voltage levels are the same as the United States.
How can I get around Merida? Is there public transportation? Are there cabs?Walking is perfectly safe in Merida and many of the participants walk from their homestays or hotels depending on how far away they are. It’s a bit too far to walk from the Centro (downtown) so most people take a bus or a cab if they are staying in hotels in that area. A cab ride from the Centro is about 30-50 pesos ($3-$4 USD) and cabs are available directly outside of Habla and everywhere in the Centro. We will always call a cab for you if you are at Habla.
Buses are 6 pesos (about 50 cents) per ride. Have your change ready (no big bills). The bus stop to the Centro is directly outside of Habla (you can actually pick up the bus standing in our parking lot.)
How much do I tip?We generally don’t tip cab drivers here in Mexico unless they go out of their way to help (multiple stops or helping with luggage etc.) Then you might tip about 10%.
The typical amount to tip at restaurants is 10%. You might tip 15% at a restaurant with exceptional service and one that is used to international guests.
If you are renting a car and park in a free lot there will often be someone who watches your car or helps you pull in or out of a space. It is customary to give them a tip of about 2 pesos (20 cents).
If you have someone help you with your bags at the airport tip about 30-50 pesos depending on the number of suitcases.