Sheree is young at heart, athletic and lives in a small town in British Columbia, Canada. She enjoys mountain biking, road cycling, swimming, kayaking, camping, snow skiing and travel to experience different cultures. After a career in finance, she is now a photographer and designs websites, but mostly she is retired and enjoys travel, life and everything about it.
Why did you decide to learn Spanish and why did you choose to learn the language during a language course abroad?
I spent quite a bit of time in Mexico and Spain as a high school and university student. I learned some Spanish, but later in life my career got in the way of using the language for many years. I’ve always loved the language and Mexico and I wanted to pick up the language again. A friend recommended Guanajuato and Linguaschools in Mexico, so I asked my partner Bob if he was willing to try it. We did and immediately we both loved the school and Guanajuato. We both feel that learning the language is the best way to completely enjoy the people, culture and total experience of being in another country, and learning Spanish in the country is the easiest way to learn.
How did your Spanish level improve during your stay?
Our first visit was for only 2 weeks, since then we have come at least once per year for 2 or 4-5 weeks. We both began with 4 classes per day, Bob at the very beginner level, me at an intermediate level. I then moved to 2 private classes per day and Bob continues with 4 classes per day. Each year our level improved. Now, both of us can understand, write and speak Spanish much better than when we first came to the school, no doubt. I can now communicate effectively with anyone, my Spanish is “fluid” say most people. But my grammar and vocabulary always need work, of course. The school has made every effort to teach us, accommodate our needs and have lots of fun at the same time.
Why did you decide on Guanajuato? Why should someone visit this city?
Guanajuato is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is old and very interesting, a pedestrian downtown with little vehicle traffic. The small streets (callejones) are old, picturesque, often very steep and like nothing anywhere else. Although Guanajuato ‘s population is about 175,000, it has the feeling of a much smaller town. The city is the capital of the state of Guanajuato, a Mexican tourist town and a University town, so it’s lively, vibrant and few people speak English, making it a perfect place to learn Spanish and have an enjoyable time doing it. There are many events, concerts, celebrations and activities to enjoy, so we never lack for anything to “do”. There are many cafés and restaurants of all types and it is easy to navigate on foot, taxi or bus. There are many weekend trip options from Guanajuato (Morelia, Patzcuaro, Mineral de Pozos, San Miguel de Allende, Dolores Hidalgo, Santa Rosa, Guadalajara), it all depends on your particular interests. Guanajuato is centrally located in Mexico, so it is easy to get a bus from Guanajuato to Mexico City, or Guadalajara (and then on to the coast).
[here you find even more reasons to visit Guanajuato]
The weather in Guanajuato is wonderful when we visit in the fall or winter. Beautiful sunny days, cool high desert nights. In contrast, late fall weather in BC is wet and cold rain before our ski area opens. We are extremely happy to be in Guanajuato when it is poor weather at home for the outdoor sports we enjoy.
What did you do during your time at Linguaschools?
The school offers group activities and various trips – we have learned how to create an altar for Día de los Muertos, experienced the Bicentennial exposition, visited the famous winter Monarch butterfly refuge in Michoacán, visited a tequila factory, and have been to the Peralta ruins. In the afternoons we have played Loteria, taken salsa dance lessons, cooking lessons, and watched Spanish movies.
Which are your favorite things to do in Guanajuato?
The traditional tours will take you to the Alhondiga, Teatro Juarez, the Basilica, the Jardin, Mercado Hidalgo and several other wonderful places to learn about the city and its unique history, and Guanajuato has many annual celebrations with parades and music (Día de los Muertos, Day of the Revolution, Illuminaciones, Festival Internacional Cervantino).
We frequently check the signboards in the Jardin for upcoming events at the Teatro Juarez, Teatro Principal, University Film Club and Casa Cuatro. These are outstanding performances of all types (and free or very low cost!).
It’s always wonderful to simply wander around town with a camera, watch the people from a bench in a plaza or sip a coffee in a café. But specifically, a few of my (and our) favorite things to do are:
El Pipila: a walk up to the Pipila monument is good exercise rewarded with a wonderful view of Guanajuato and learning about some of the history. There are several routes, so it’s a trip to do more than once. You can walk the various routes or a taxi can take you to the top. It’s also very interesting to get up high in other parts of Guanajuato to get views of the Pipila! Guanajuato is just over 2,000 metres altitude, so we walk slower the first week just because of the altitude.
Centro Acuatico: the relatively new aquatic centre is a 50 meter by 25 meter lap pool and a separate pool with diving platforms. To swim there, you will need to take an easy short swimming test and buy a pass for at least 4 visits. It’s a short cab ride from the centro and is a wonderful complement to studying a few hours each day during the week. There are state-wide and Mexican national competitions at the facility.
Mountain bike riding and rock climbing: many people hike up, but I prefer to cycle up to the famous cave that is at the base of the Bufa, a mountain seen from most higher points in town. There is a narrow path for hiking up, or a dirt road for cycling up. Some cars will drive up, but only a few because the road is rough and steep in spots. The views are spectacular all the way. There are about 80 rock climbing routes around the Bufa and Bob likes to rock climb up there, it’s all sport climbing. Renting a mountain bike to explore the Panorámica road above Guanajuato and/or the Bufa provides wonderful views and the chance to see the various parts of the City. In late November there has been a very popular downhill mountain biking race down the steep and narrow steps and streets and this is a great spectator sport.
How can you summarize your language travel and stay in Guanajuato?
Learning the language has allowed us to enjoy Guanajuato and Mexico more each year. Being able to communicate in Spanish has allowed us to make friends here, have interesting conversations in Spanish and learn even more about the wonderful people and culture of Mexico. Because of Guanajuato’s central location, it’s been easy to visit many places near and further from Guanajuato, exploring and enjoying Mexico with new and old friends. Bob and I sincerely appreciate all that Linguaschools has done to teach us Spanish.