Many participants travel to Copán Ruinas in the mountains of western Honduras for 1 or more weeks to study at the Ixbalanque School, live with host families, and enjoy a wide range of cultural activities including visits to the beautiful Maya ruins of Copán.

This is independent travel study so you pick the dates; classes typically begin on Mondays. You'll study for 3 or 4 hours per day either morning or afternoon and can register for 1 to 4 weeks and receive 60 Clock Hours/PDUs or 6 quarter credits (equivalent of 4 semester credits) per week.

PLEASE NOTE: The Heritage Institute courses receive Continuing Education Quarter Credits awarded by Antioch University Seattle at the 400 and 500 levels. Call 800.445.1305 or log onto The Heritage Institute’s website policies page for more information.


If you're interested in studying in a coastal city or on one of the Bay Islands of Honduras, check out the link for the Central American Spanish School with bases in La Ceiba and on Utila and Roatán. The 2 schools work together so you can combine weeks at each if you wish. If you prefer a different location or Spanish school, arrangements can be made; please contact the instructor.

For information about similar programs in other Latin American countries as well as credit for volunteer and cultural learning projects, click here or on the bottom link, below. For contact info click the REGISTRATION or SYLLABUS links.

To view the 2008 Live and Learn group trip blog, scroll to the Blog Archive (lower right) and click the 1st post you want to see (they're listed bottom to top chronologically, you may need to click the arrow by July to see the earliest ones). Click "Newer Post" at the bottom of each post to view the next one.

About Me

My photo
I've been a teacher for more than 34 years, recently retired from directing Structured Learning Centers for kids with autism and multiple disabilities in The Dalles, Oregon. I did my undergraduate work at Lewis & Clark College and my SpEd Masters at Portland State University. Gaining conversational ease in Spanish is an important professional and personal goal for me and I find attending Spanish schools in Latin America and volunteering with local organizations both productive and addictive. I'm hoping to help others with their goals along the way and have developed the Live and Learn in Latin America program to provide credit for immersion, volunteer, and cultural learning projects. ALSO...In the course of my immersion studies in Latin America, I fell in love with the people of San Pedro La Laguna, Sololá, Guatemala and am working in cooperation with the Cooperativa Spanish School to match scholarship sponsors with promising students who would otherwise be limited to 6 years of school: BecaProject.org

Ixbalanque Spanish School

Sunday, August 3, 2008

SUNDAY - chilling by the pool

I had a wonderful morning - several hours talking with Lilian, exchanging recipes and wanting our families to know each other. The boys, Josue and Eduardo, were still asleep but I took a photo with Edgardo, Maria, and Lilian before they left for church and we said our last goodbyes. (PHOTO 1). PHOTO 2 is my goodbye photo in my room.

Most of the day we'll just be chilling by a pool - for 50 Lempira ($2.50) we can hang out for the day at the pool of a local hotel (PHOTOS 3, 4, and 5).

Thanks for following our trip and for your support. This will be the last post before we head our separate ways. HAPPY TRAILS!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Saturday - horses and some time to rest

Hi, all - After 2 busy weeks this felt like the first day I had 2 seconds to rub together for just resting and people watching. This morning those of us still in town (The Dalles group plus Kay Cee from Burbank) went on a 3 hour horseback ride into the mountains. Our horses were typical of horses here - scrawny and wiry and patient (pretty much the same as the street dogs only bigger). We headed along the highway leading to Guatemala for awhile, then up through the mountains and through villages (PHOTOS 1 and 2). We passed through a rock quarry where we discovered the laborious process required to provide all the beautiful paving stones we see in town (PHOTO 3) and we generally made a spectacle of ourselves - 10 gringas on horseback way off the beaten path. PHOTO 5 shows my family's dogs, Lulu and her son Cafe (coffee).

Tonight is our last night with our host families and I am having a difficult time processing that. I'm feeling really frail emotionally already since I'm missing my beloved niece Ashley's wedding tonight. :o(
I may post again tomorrow if the internet is up. On Monday the rest of the group flies home and Mike flies in. I'll switch to holemansinhonduras.blogspot.com , though more often than not Mike and I will be in places where the internet isn't available. Happy trails to all!!!


Hello again! Friday some of us headed back to the ruins for an opportunity to explore without rain and we had an amazing time. In addition to the more obvious and famous structures, we enjoyed the enormous trees (PHOTO 1) and the sometimes fierce and sometimes hilarious stone images (PHOTO 2 - jaguar). We specially loved the area called 'el cementerio' with it's tranquility and surrounding jungle (PHOTO 3).
Friday afternoon was our last day of class. A few of us took our teachers out for a treat (PHOTO 4) and many of us had a difficult time saying goodbye.
Friday night there was a Guatemalan circus in town. There was also a evangelist rally which provided us with a spectacular fireworks show while we waited. We paid 30 lempira for our tickets and later learned that an extra 10 lemps (50 cents) would have bought us plastic lawn chairs instead of precarious 2 x 6 boards to sit on. The show included a macho knife thrower in tights with matching do-rag and his assistant who moved out of the way very well, female impersonators, 2 trained poodles in bad need of grooming, and a very overweight contortionist (she was really amazing). She showed up later in the show with 2 friends for a dance that you had to see to believe. We enjoyed some high ring and spinning ladder routines (PHOTO 5) and loved the handsome young man lipsyncing to a romantic song but having to race around the tent, climbing into the bleachers and up poles to stay in the beam of the spotlight. The final act was a snake with the girth of a basketball that crawled slowly across the ground before all the lights went out - SCREAMS FROM THE CROWD! When the lights went back on the snake was safely on the shoulders of the trainer. Happy trails!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thursday - busy day

Hi, all!

Today I made 8 or 10 trips across town to visit a sick Brian, meet folks at school, give messages back and forth, find out blood test results (Brian's - not malaria or dengue fever, apparently), buy plane tickets (August 4th to Guanaja), and hit school and home at the right time for meals and study. I also rode in mototaxis twice to Hacienda San Lucas, a wonderful sunny hike with the morning group which included a visit to the village of La Pintada, and a wonderful rainy hike with Sarah, Maureen, and Louise from the afternoon group. Los Sapos (PHOTO 1) is a very special place, a rock outcropping in the jungle with carvings of a toad and other mysterious images and is thought to have been a Maya birthing place in the old days. Close by in the village of La Pintada we observed too many sad mother dogs (PHOTO 2), shopped for weavings in their cooperative (photo 3) and thought all the kids were darling. PHOTO 4 is the afternoon group waiting out the rain at Hacienda San Lucas; it didn't so we hiked anyway, and the rest of them borrowed huge golf umbrellas. PHOTO 5 is a shot of our salsa lessons - we enjoyed Nelson and got some good exercise in the bargain.

Happy trails!


Hello, again!

Today we road in the back of a pick-up truck to a village high in the mountains that has a ceramic cooperative. We enjoyed a traditional meal in the little house there, surrounded by banana trees (PHOTO 1). We also tried our hands at working with the clay (PHOTOS 2 and 3); Maria made it look much easier than it was for us (PHOTO 4). After we left we drove to the local public school - 71 students in 4 grades with 1 teacher - and gave a pencil to each child, thanks to Sharon and Bernadine (and maybe others, not sure who contributed, PHOTO 5). Like the others, an eventful day.
Happy trails!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tuesday at the bird park and Maya mudeum

Hi, all -

Today those of us who study in the afternoons met in the park in the morning and hopped on mototaxis (like golf carts) for the 10 minute trip to Macaw Mountain Bird Park. We divided into 2 groups, 1 with a Spanish speaking guide and 1 with an English speaking guide, and walked around and through dozens of huge aviaries with rescued birds that are native to Central America. Most were pets that didn't work out - 42 this year alone - and none were wild caught unless they were too injured to survive in the wild. PHOTO 1 is a young toucan and PHOTO 2 a blue and gold macaw. Near the end of the tour they have an area where tame birds are sitting around on perches and we got to hold them (PHOTO 3), though it wasn't without risk to clothing, buttons, and earrings.
In the afternoon Kathy and I walked with our teachers to an old fort 4 blocks north of the parque central that has been renovated in recent years and is the new home of the wonderful children's interpretive museum about Maya history. Among other activities we made our birthdays in Maya calendar characters (PHOTO 4) and posed in a stela (PHOTO 5).
We are feeling the days fall away behind us faster and faster and have less than a week left before our time in Copan comes to an end. Happy trails!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday - back to work!

Hello again!

I enjoy sitting in the parque central in the mornings watching the people and the a specific hummingbird that returns at the same time each day. I've also been watching a specific hibiscus bud that was within reach - the others were out of camera range. This morning my patience paid off (PHOTOS 1 and2).

This morning at 9:00 we gathered at the school for a lesson in making pupusas, a traditional food in this area (PHOTO 3). The process starts with making a tortilla with masa (much harder than the veterans make it look), putting a few tablespoons of refried beans or a cheese and lorocos paste (lorocos are a flavorful vegetable that is popular here), then folding the tortilla over the filling and carefully making the whole thing look like a tortilla again; I'm glad to have patient teachers!

I have to admit it was a little hard to go back to work this afternoon. Four hours is a really long time to concentrate in the afternoon in sticky heat. Then again, my new teacher is very pleasant (Yesenia - a teacher of mine 3 years ago and of Isaac's 2 years ago) and I had a really productive day; it looked like JoAnne was having a productive day, too (PHOTO4). Most of our group have the same teachers as last week but I was one of a few changes.

PHOTO 5 is dinner at my house a few nights ago - comida tipica (typical food of the area). What looks like bananas is actually fried green plantains and the white bowl has a delicate cheese that was made at my house that afternoon. I love the comida tipica (tonight we had hot dogs....).

Hope everyone is happy and well - happy trails!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday: the sculpture museum and shopping

Hello! Today 8 of us from The Dalles met in the parque central and headed to the ruins. Instead of revisiting the ruins themselves (saved for an early morning later this week) we visited the truly amazing sculpture museum which I missed last time I was in Copan since it was closed (for years) for repair. PHOTO 1 shows our 1st glimpse of a full-sized reproduction of the huge and glorious Rosalila temple, discovered beneath an exposed temple in the Copan ruins. PHOTO 2 and 3 are bats - the original (and some would say justifiably famous) bat sculpture from the ruins and a family of live bats JoAnne discovered inside the Rosalila temple. The museum is open to the sky above the temple and had a very calming, spiritual feel. We spent nearly 2 hours walking, gazing, reading, and discussing. We also had fun posing with the sculptures (PHOTO 4).

We had a fabulous pizza lunch in an Italian restaurant with Asian/American country influences, then did some more exploring and shopping. I finally found the new haunt of a favorite person from my previous visit to Copan: Carlos the carver (PHOTO 5). Most of us found hand-made jewelry or small carvings to buy for ourselves or gifts in his little shop. Back to school tomorrow! Happy trails!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday in the mountains

Hi, all -
We had a fun, eventful day again today, hiking and birding in the mountains with our wonderful guide, Jorge Barraza. Everyone in the mountains was very friendly except the brahma bull who escorted us down the mountain before we intended to leave (I didn't stop to take a good picture but he was impressive). We enjoyed hiking (PHOTO 1), birding, learning about coffee production, taking in the mountain villages from the back of Jorge's pick-up, and gorging on delicious traditional food for breakfast and lunch in a rustic home (PHOTOS 2 and 3) in the village of Sesesmil. We also visited a beautiful plant business (PHOTO 4) and bought some rustic pottery pieces. PHOTO 5 shows the group of 12 and Jorge who enjoyed this memorable day together. Happy trails!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday - an eventful day

Hi, all -
After an hour or so of studying today we walked with our teachers to a local school that was celebrating Dia de Lempira, an important Indian hero of Honduras. The students had decorated the school with items made from corn and presented songs and dances in traditional costumes (PHOTO 1). The culminating activity was the selection of the 'Indian Bonita' (prettiest Indian); the costumes, representing different products of Honduras, were amazing (PHOTO 2).

In the afternoon we met at the school and boarded a van for a trip to hotsprings in the mountains. The drive, through agricultural land and villages was fascinating (PHOTO 3). The hotsprings were really gorgeous, pools of various sizes and temperatures shrouded by jungle (PHOTO 4).

The directors of the school, Amadea and Kathy, are in the PHOTO 5. Amadea is Sylvia's teacher and Kathy is Stacey's. Happy trails!