Fashion at the Bay—A Benefit in Boca de Iguana, Jalisco

Published by LaCatalinaSchool on December 30th, 2013 - in Blog

Stunning setting for event at Chantli Mare Restaurant

Have you been out to Chantli Mare, the new Restaurant & Inn in the nearly virgin beach of Boca de Iguana, Mexico?  Roberto Contreras and has wife Ibett have poured their heart and soul into turning an old dilapidated family beach home into an elegant fine dining restaurant and hotel which was recently given the Boutique hotel status because of its luxury facilities in a small, intimate setting.

Chantli Mare currently has six rooms, a pool, stunning landscaping, and a restaurant with the renowned chef, Greg Coulliard, preparing exquisite meals. Chef Couillard, originally from Toronto, partnered with Kim Everest and Chef Glenroy Anderson at the fabulous Number Four restaurant in Ajijic, prior to becoming the chef at Chantli Mare.

Feeling blessed with what all they have received from others, Robert and Ibett graciously agreed to host the fundraising benefit, “Fashion at the Bay”, with the proceeds to support our sister non-profit organization, La Catalina Foundation.  The event will take place on Friday, January 10th at 12pm and include a fancy luncheon, live music and a fashion show with a chic, eclectic array of eight Mexican, American and Canadian models showing off clothing and swim wear from Café Calypso boutique in Melaque and Misifus in Barra de Navidad.  The models are teenagers through mature adults, all of whom live in La Manzanilla or spend the winter there.

One hundred percent of the event earnings will go to La Catalina Foundation, serving La Manzanilla, Jalisco area.  This grass roots organization,

A few of the kids who receive financial support for their studies through La Catalina Foundation

founded in 2004, has been working to improve social conditions in their community through providing free educational advancement opportunities to their local residents.  The foundation offers English, art and technology training to students.  Currently, the foundation has 45 youth, ages 13 – 22, who receive financial support and tutoring to help keep them in school.   In mid-January, the La Catalina Foundation will proudly be opening the doors to a new computer literacy classroom which they worked hard to build and equip, where children, teens and adults will come to develop their computer skills. This event will help purchase additional computers and pay for expenses to operate the computer lab.

There is limited seating for Fashion at the Bay benefit.  Tickets are 350 pesos per person and includes the lunch, fashion show and chance to win a door prize. To make your reservation and support this good cause, contact Julie from La Catalina Foundation by email at: or by phone at 315-351-5540.

Casa Luz Shines its Light on La Manzanilla

Published by LaCatalinaSchool on November 15th, 2011 - in Blog
Palapa studio at Casa Luz – Photo by Christina deRoos

For those of you who are junkies for the healing arts (like myself) you may not know that all the way in Mexico, in a little town by the sea with a mere population of 1500, Casa Luz (or House of Light) is creating a hub for healing arts teachers and students to come together to share in a large array of classes and workshops.

Who would think you could be belly dancing to your hip’s content in Mexico, Tango-ing it up with well-seasoned teachers, having your pick of three different yoga styles, studying spiritual books, watching cultural films and attending events that range from India night with delightfully seasoned authentic Indian dishes to poetry reading to numerology sessions and more?

Only at Casa Luz!  This unique community space, started several years ago by part-time residents of La Manzanilla Nansee and Richard, is dedicated to spreading light and building an even  stronger heart-based community.  And when you visit Casa Luz, you may also be lucky enough to meet Nansee and Richard’s Huichol friends and be touched by their light.  They make their way down to La Manzanilla periodically, traveling from the remote Sierra mountains in Nayarit.  You may see them making their traditional huichol art and jewelry at Casa Luz and selling it in La Manzanilla’s main plaza at amazingly affordable prices.

So next stop…La Manzanilla!  Spanish classes at La Catalina School for your mind and healing arts classes at Casa Luz to tone your body and tune your spirit.  I would say this makes a pretty complete vacation, if you ask me!

Start the New Year the “Write” Way in La Manzanilla, Jalisco!!!

Published by LaCatalinaSchool on October 25th, 2011 - in Blog
Author-Columnist-Poet Dr. Linda Sonna

La Manzanilla, Mexico will be buzzing with activity this winter!  Who would think that in a little town, you could find an array workshops and classes by internationally renowned teachers and artists?  The workshop I’m most excited about this season is a Writer’s Workshop, lead by Author-Columnist-Poet Dr. Linda Sonna, who has authored over a dozen books.

Whether you are planning to come and do the Spanish immersion program at La Catalina School or not (which we hope you will!) this Writing Workshop with Dr. Linda Sonna is enough of an excuse to get your booty down to La Manzanilla.

Whether you’re a bona-fide-writer, a wanna-be-writer or a writer-in-training, there’s something for you!   In Dr. Sonna’s workshop, you’ll learn how to free your muse, develop your voice, create compelling characters, build a plot, create dramatic tension and more!

Come for one or two sessions (Session 1: January 9th-13th, 2012; Session 2: January 16th-20th, 2012).  But don’t procrastinate in making up your mind as Dr. Sonna will only accept 10 participants and I’ve already grabbed the first spot! Check out her website for more info and to register a.s.a.p. at:

“Ink on paper is as beautiful to me as flowers on the mountains; God composes, why shouldn’t we?” ~Terri Guillemets

Spanish for Educators 2012 Workshop Around the Corner…

Published by LaCatalinaSchool on October 8th, 2011 - in Blog

Spend 8-days this spring on the lush, tropical coast of Mexico in our 2012 Spanish for Educators Spring Break Course to be held March 24th-31st, 2012. Participants will learn or refine their conversational Spanish and Spanish for Educators skills, participate in the rich and colorful Mexican culture through events and activities with the local people, take excursions to places interest, and build new friendships and networks with other professionals from different parts of the U.S., Canada and Mexico!

In addition to this fabulous professional development opportunity for educators, participants will get the well-needed vacation they need and have some time to relax and recharge after a long year of hard work in our beautiful, charming beachfront community of La Manzanilla, Mexico. Read more about La Catalina Schools Spanish for Educators program in La Manzanilla, Mexico, by clicking here.

Where to Stay in La Manzanilla?!?

Published by LaCatalinaSchool on September 1st, 2011 - in Blog
Beautiful new villa in La Manzanilla

Every year, there are more and more options of places to stay in La Manzanilla, Mexico…from the more luxurious with striking ocean views, to more humble one or two room homes in the flat part of town, to the unique home stay experience through La Catalina School when signed up for Spanish classes.  With all of these options and numerous sites on the internet advertising housing, you may be overwhelmed, sight unseen, trying to narrow down what is the right option for you.

Here are some house hunting pointers to help direct you to finding a place you will be happy with:

1. Talk to a friend who has been to La Manzanilla—word of mouth goes a long way!

2. Make reservations in advance if you plan to come from November – February!  (This is our high season and the rental properties go fast!)  Some people who know they are coming back every season book as far as a year in advance.

3.  If you prefer to play it by ear and show up and see what you find, you will have better  luck doing this in March – October during the low months when many of the vacation rentals are unoccupied.

Here are some links to property management companies or websites with rental listings in La Manzanilla that can assist you in finding just the right rental for you…


If you are thinking about taking a Spanish immersion course at La Catalina School and doing a home stay with a local Mexican family, contact us at for more info!

Healing in Mexico…at El Centro Naturista Daniel Arreola

Published by LaCatalinaSchool on August 30th, 2011 - in Blog


Julie (right) with younger sister (left) in front of Centro Naturista in El Grullo

Coming from the San Francisco Bay area, finding wellness or holistic centers was as easy as finding a 7-11 convenience store.  The hard thing was to find out what was right for you and which places could yield the kind of results you were looking for.  Is it a relaxing retreat to help you de-stress…a detox clinic to help overcome health problems you are dealing with…an acupuncturist to balance your energy…or a new age hypnotist to snap you out of the funk you are in? There are so many practices available from all over the world—one can feel dizzy with options and not know which direction to go.

But what a relief when coming to Mexico I discovered El Centro Naturista Daniel Arreola in the quaint town of El Grullo, near Autlan (yes, the town Carlos Santana is from). Now instead of having to make all these tough decision on my own, as to what exact regimen is it that my body and soul are craving, the Centro Naturista makes it easy for me.  They use a simple yet highly effective healing system based on traditional natural remedies.  Each patient who arrives has an exam by an iridologist.  The kind and caring doctors look into your iris and tell you two minutes later what may have otherwise cost thousands of dollars in a hospital and required invasive tests to discover.  And to the surprise of many, the diagnosis is astoundingly accurate through the seemingly simple science of iridology.

Then comes the treatments…no meds, shots, or invasive procedures. Only a specially prescribed good dose of nature for your healing…mud packs on the skin to remove toxins, cold water to get your circulation going, exercise to get your blood pumping, detoxifying steam baths, delicious vegan meals, rest to restore your vital energies, herbal teas, juices, and more!

In as few as three days at the Centro Naturista, I walk out feeling years younger and ready to charge again.  I am forever grateful for this Center so close to La Manzanilla and for the dedicated group of holistic doctors who run it—and at half the price of what I would pay in the Bay Area!

So if you feel your energy needs a boost or are dealing with any chronic annoying health problems that require a systemic healing approach, think about a trip to Mexico.  Drop in and see us at La Catalina School to brush up on your Spanish and relax at the beach for a week or two, then catch a bus to el Centro Naturista en El Grullo, just 3 1/2  hours from La Manzanilla. They do speak some English at the clinic, but it is definitely advisable to speak Spanish to take full advantage of the experience and wealth of information made available.

For more info, check out their website:

La Manzanilla A-Z List

Published by LaCatalinaSchool on August 26th, 2011 - in Blog

Spectactular sunsets in La Manzanilla!

What makes La Manzanilla such a gem of a place?  Yes, the natural beauty of the ocean and rolling hills, but also a number of unique organizations, efforts and opportunities in the area.  Here is an A-Z list of some of the things that makes La Manzanilla an extra special place…

Abel’s La Manzanilla Art School

Bookstore (Manos Ayundando)

Casa Luz community center

Dolphins in the bay

Enclave of artists

Friendly & safe village

Galeria La Manzanilla

Homestays with local families thru La Catalina School

Italian Restaurant (Figaro’s) and other great international & Mexican restaurants

Jardin Comunitario

Kids of La Manzanilla

La Catalina Foundation non-prfofit org helping improve education

Mojitos & ambience at Martin’s restaurant

Neuter & spay clinic for dogs & cats (Cisco’s Amigos)

Off the beaten path location

Picturesque palapa roofs

Quaint village setting

Relaxing spa services at Spacifico

Spectacular sunsets!

Tierra Alegre non-profit org helping the environment

Unique annual Art Walk

Vegan (yes, no cheese!) pizza at Jesus, Maria y Jose Restaurant

Waterholes & arroyo

X-tra clean ocean water

Yummy coconut products for sale by Linda Mandala

Zumba classes with June

A Change of Seasons in La Manzanilla

Published by LaCatalinaSchool on August 25th, 2011 - in Blog

I walk down the street I’ve been walking down for nine years. Everything looks the same today, except I notice tranquility in the village that settles in the depths of my soul, making me nostalgic for more days like this one—for more days of walking down dirt roads under the warm Mexican sun, with no place to go.

It is almost September. In about a month, the Gringos start arriving. They come from the north, to escape the rain and cold weather. They stay until February or sometimes into March. The village undergoes a transformation when the foreigners arrive.  The interesting mix of cultures and people from all over brings a burst of creative energy.

The little town awakens as a new wave of eager students, young and old, arrive to dive head first into our  Spanish immersion program, the seasonal restaurants shake off their dusty floor mats and open their doors for the season, the artists get their paint brushes out and start painting passionately and exhibiting their work at La Galería and other local galleries, and an array of interesting classes in yoga and other healing arts practices are offered at Casa Luz community center, Bending Tree yoga and healing center and other locations.

Today I only see Mexicans, though. I am a foreigner in their land too. Blue eyes, fair skin, brown hair. And my partner who is Mexican by nationality but Spanish and Basque by heritage. But we share their land. And we share in the language of their heart.

Living in this town continually returns me to my spiritual roots. The roots that connect me to all things and all people.   I revel in the quiet months but also look forward to the diversity and eclectic flair of La Manzanilla’s high season.

Retreat in Paradise…

Published by LaCatalinaSchool on August 25th, 2011 - in Blog

For those of you who haven’t visited us for awhile and for those who perhaps have dreams of heading south of the border where life is perpetually tranquilo and all the pressing things on your to do list can wait til mañana, this is a little update on a special program our small, but progressive natural language school in La Manzanilla has to offer you…

A 7-day Spanish Plus Yoga Retreat for those who are looking for more than a bad sunburn and being hung over in the mornings. Instead here’s a chance to stimulate your mind, body and soul and get the most out of your vacation—time at beach, beautiful weather, learning or sharpening your Spanish, eating healthy delicious carefully prepared meals, and deepening your yoga practice.

Our next Spanish Plus Yoga retreat is scheduled for March 17th – 24th, 2012. For more info on making your dream come true of spending a fabulous 7-days in beautiful La Manzanilla, Jalisco in our Spanish Plus Yoga retreat, visit our website at: or email us at:

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