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

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!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Hello again -

Today we visited the beautiful Copan ruins in 2 groups - a morning group with their usual gorgeous sunshine and our afternoon group with our usual driving rain and thunder (although I am grateful for our sunny afternoon yesterday at the butterfly place). I had hired a guide Mike and I enjoyed 3 years ago - Jorge Barraza - and he proved himself again to be intelligent, knowledgeable, charming, and an excellent story teller. The photos I've chosen for today are from our experience at the ruins today. We'll have plenty of time to return under sunnier skies to take more pictures and explore a little deeper, but in 3 hours we learned enough to remember forever the wonderful history and contributions of the Maya people. Hot chocolate at a local cafe was the perfect way to warm up and unwind.

I am really grateful to be traveling with such a wonderful, interesting group of people and such great sports. The great sport part is especially coming into play as we head into our 5th night with no running water (a few in the group live in families with cisterns and had a few nights of real showers before the cisterns bled dry). In town the supply is so low that water for sponge bathing and forcing toilets to flush a bit is rationed. We are being careful with our purified water but have sufficient supplies to keep us hydrated. I keep reminding myself that most of the people in the world have less water than we have this week. Happy trails!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008 - More fun, less rain!

Greetings from beautiful Honduras! I got up bright and early and hit the market when only locals were there (PHOTO 1). We were unable to make it to the mountains to visit a village for a ceramics demonstration - roads still impassable, maybe Friday. Instead we spent some time people watching in the parque central (PHOTO 2 - Stacey with little doll sellers) and took advantage of our 1st sunny afternoon to visit the butterfly place just outside of town. In addition to the butterflies the plants were really interesting (PHOTOS 3 and 4). My apologies for the sideways photo - I can't figure out how to turn it but wanted to include it anyway. Happy trails!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More exploring, more rain

Three years ago when I studied in Copan the school was lovely but the new school is really spectacular (PHOTO 1). For the 1st time today we had the whole afternoon group together (PHOTO 2). When 1 group is studying at the school (4 hours/day) the other is exploring. Today we spent time in the produce market (PHOTO 3 - not sure what some of those beautiful green things are!), in the parque central (PHOTO 4 - a woman marketing her produce), and in the Museo Archeologia (PHOTO 5 - it was hard to choose which museum photo to include but the guy with the huge lips beat out the skull with jade insets in most of the teeth).

Hope this finds you well - happy trails!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Safe and sound in Honduras!

Greetings from beautiful Honduras! Our trip here went well, though not perfectly in true Central American style. Flights were long but uneventful (PHOTO 1, above) and we piled into our shuttle van after a few initial misunderstandings. The driver also didn't understand we preferred safety to speed (PHOTO 2) but, miraculously, we arrived safe and sound having successfully dodged iguanas, horses, cows, skinny dogs, scrawny cats, and multiple rock slides, some with boulders the size of a small car. Immigration was a practice in patience (PHOTO 3) but we arrived at our school early and were escorted to our families.
Monday we worked with our teachers for the 1st time (PHOTO 4) and explored the town a bit. PHOTO 5 was taken in the school garden during a downpour that turned the streets into rivers. The torrential rains also caused a rockslide in the mountains above Copan, taking out the main water supply pipline and leaving the entire town without water. They'll fix in eventually, probably 'tomorrow' (wink).