Volunteer in Mexico
For the programs in Mexico, Love Volunteers requires individuals who are 18+ and have a good understanding of English. Some knowledge of Spanish is preferred and will allow volunteers to integrate into the program, host family and community more quickly. At least a basic understanding of Spanish is required for medical volunteers. A responsible, enthusiastic and compassionate attitude goes a long way.
Start & Duration
Volunteers in Mexico can choose from a short term stay – as little as one week - or a long term stay of six months or more. The programs have flexible start dates but weekend arrival if preferred. Volunteers in Temixco are collected from the bus station in Cuernavaca while volunteers in Oaxaca will be collected from the bus terminal or local airport.
Food and Accommodation
Volunteers in Mexico can lodge with a local host family which is a great way to be immersed in the culture, and improve ones Spanish. Mexican families are known to be great hosts, who endeavor to make their guest’s stay a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Another advantage of any stay in Mexico is the opportunity to savour Mexican cooking.
The staple ingredients found in main dishes are assorted vegetables, corn tortillas, rice and beans. To add piquancy, different sauces are served on top or on the side. Favourite dishes include the following: chicken kebabs (Alhambres de Pollo); shrimps in a chipotle remoulade sauce, enjoyed as an appetizer; the tasty cheese dip, Chile con Queso; Enchiladas Verdes (which involve placing a sauce comprising tomatillos and green chillies on top of corn tortillas); re-fried beans and Fajitas made from sizzling, fried minced steak.
Among other produce used in Mexican cuisine is the exotic fruit Mamey and the vegetable the squash. Many savoury dishes include chocolate, the best known being chicken mole. Mexico is also known for the potent cocktail the Margarita, as well as beer and, of course, tequila and mescal.
A typical week
The structure of the week varies for different projects, but we aim to be flexible. For those teaching English, the working week runs from Monday to Saturday, with most classes given in the afternoon, while mornings can be spent on preparation and meetings with staff. That said a typical week in Mexico for volunteers may look something like this:
Weekdays: Between 7am and 8.30am you can expect to have breakfast with your host family. At 8-8.30am you will head to your placement, depending on how far you have to travel. Expect to arrive at work at 9am, where you’ll meet with the local staff and plan your day. You will have a tea and lunch break during the day, the length of which will depend on the particular program. Most work finishes between 2pm and 5pm. At this point you a free to explore the local area, play with the kids (if you’re at a teaching or childcare assignment) or hang out with other volunteers. In the evening, you can have dinner with your host family or visit a local restaurant with friends.
Weekends: Volunteers are free to spend time in Temixco, Cuernavaca or Oaxaca, or to visit places of interest further afield. Xochicalco is an archaeological treasure and makes a great day-trip from Cuernavaca. Likewise, Monte Alban is the premier archaeological site near Oaxaca. There are a number of tour companies who can assist with day trips.
Program fees are a necessary part of volunteering abroad. They help to cover costs associated with your stay, as well as supporting the local organization and projects. Below is an approximate cost breakdown to show you how your program fees are used when you choose to join a volunteer program in Mexico.
NOTE: The above graph is intended to be used as a guide only. Actual cost allocations may vary slightly depending on the program selected and the length of stay.
About the Country
Mexico is a huge country comprising its own ‘united states’ (a total of 31 states) and is home to an estimated 111 million people. To the west and south, Mexico benefits from a Pacific coastline, while to the east lies the Gulf of Mexico. To the country’s southeast is found the Caribbean Sea. Besides the USA, Guatemala and Belize also border Mexico. Perhaps the best Mexico experience is enjoyed by those who leave the well-trodden tourist path and venture into the less tamed hinterland.
In Mexico, you'll find jungle and cloud forest. For the adventurous there are canyons, rapid rivers and caves to explore. Mexico is famed for its biodiversity and the number of animal species here simply defies belief. Parrots, jaguar, ocelots, cougars, howler monkeys and bears are just a tiny percentage of the creatures one might see when travelling in Mexico. In such a large country, the visitor gets to see only a fraction of the varied attractions. These might include Aztec ruins, Mayan palaces, remote villages inhabited by indigenous people, colonial cities and traditional fiestas. Arriving armed with some prior knowledge of the country is strongly recommended.
Cuernavaca, known as a vacation hotspot, and reprive from the bustle of Mexico City, the city has many restaurants, bars and a buzzing night scene. In the vicinity are some of the most interesting attractions Mexico has to offer. One such is the Corredor Biologico Ajusco-Chichinautzin, an area of dense protected forest. Within reach, too, is the Tepozteco Pyramid, a surviving monument from the Aztec period, as well as the National Park "Tepozteco", the Zempoala Lagoons, the Aztec Ruins of Malinalco and the Caves of Cacahuarnilpa.
Finally, you may get an opportunity to visit the nearby Xochicalco archaeological zone, named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. This is a fascinating place which dates back to 650 AD. Mexico’s highest mountainous areas reach an impressive five kilometres above sea level. Its jungles contain amazing wildlife. Many of its beaches are tropical paradises edged with palm trees. And its cities are frenetic, densely populated and increasingly contemporary.
Further south, in the Southern Mountains, Oaxaca is a colourful, clean and vibrant city, with a surprising amount of tourists, ex-pats, and volunteers on the streets. The city is big enough to have something for everyone, yet small enough to manage on foot. There are plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from, including many with rooftop garden-bars to enjoy the picturesque beauty of the area.
Upon arrival in Mexico, after being taken to the volunteering location, there is the option either to rest or get acquainted with their host family. Following this, the main elements of orientation are: an introduction to the basics about Mexico as a country, facts about the city, local customs, safety, rules and expectations. The local team will also tell you everything you need to know about your volunteering experience, how the work is planned and the goals and objectives of the program.
Meet the Local Team
Estella - Program Director (Temixco), Mexico
Love Volunteers has been working with Estella placing international volunteers in community-based programs in and around Temixco since 2010. A well-known figure in the social service sector, Estella is passionate about the positive impact Love Volunteers from around the world have on the needy communities we support in Mexico.