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Frequently Asked Questions

+ How are you different from other teacher institutes or workshops?
Habla’s professional development experiences are not a collection of separate presentations and workshops. For Habla programs, educators and artists from leading organizations around the world collaborate throughout the year to contribute to the imagining and planning of our events and, upon arriving in Merida, help to facilitate the professional development experiences as presenters and participants. Each of Habla’s workshops are formed around a series of questions that presenters and participants investigate together. Many local educators attend professional development at Habla as well, so although institutes and workshops have an international reach, they are always locally grounded.
+ Is Merida safe?
With all the often negative news in the media people often ask us how safe it is in Merida. Merida is a very safe city where it feels comfortable to walk on the streets any day or night. We are far from the drug violence in other parts of Mexico. This article in CNN points out that Merida is safer than Wichita, Kansas in the United States. If you have any hesitation regarding safety in Mexico, please write us at contact@habla.org and we will put you directly in touch with people who have visited Habla recently and can tell you about their experience.
+ What is your building like? Where are you located?
+ 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?
+ 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 tours 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—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 sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats (sunscreen is expensive here, so we recommend you buy it in the your own country). You should also pack insect repellent for mosquitoes. The “family” version 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. 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 only one block away from Habla.
+ 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 15%.

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). The same goes for other in-the-moment services in Merida like for the young people who bag your groceries in the supermarket.

If you have someone help you with your bags at the airport tip about 30-50 pesos depending on the number of suitcases.
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