I chose this program on a whim based on one positive review I found online, and I couldn't be more pleased with this decision. Prior to coming to Na'atik, I was only able to speak few words and phrases of Spanish. I spent 3 weeks learning Spanish from Pedro. Classes were 4 hours a day Monday to Thursday, 2 hours on Fridays, one on one for the first 2 weeks, and the third week another student joined my class, which worked seamlessly. Because the class was one on one for the most part, Pedro tailored the curriculum to suit my needs and level. I'm a nurse and take care of Spanish speaking patients often so he integrated a lot of related vocab, which was very helpful. 4 hours might seem long, but in reality, classes went by very fast. Pedro was a great teacher, patient, and passionate about the school and their mission. The team at Na'atik truly felt like family, always checking in with me and so welcoming. They even organized a couple outings, a taco dinner and a trip to a nearby ceynote.
When I first arrived to Mexico (before Na'atik), I was not able to communicate at all with the shuttle driver due to my (very) limited Spanish, and then AFTER, I was able get around town, talk to shopkeepers, buy bus tickets, order food in restaurants, talk to my host family, etc. I'm far from fluent, but now I feel comfortable getting around on my own and making my needs known. Pedro admitted that he was shocked with my quick progress and was super supportive and encouraging the whole time.
I strongly suggest staying with a host family when doing this program because this is what helped most with my learning, not only the language but also the culture. My family was so generous and patient. They speak very little English but always talked to me and encouraged me to practice my Spanish. They welcomed me as a part of their family by taking me to see the beautiful towns of Valladolid and Mahahual, as well as to their son's college graduation ceremony. I even went to Zumba most mornings with my host sister.
The bugs took some getting used to but, for the most part, I felt comfortable in my home. I had my own room with a bed, hammock, and fan in it. I also had Wifi (what a luxury!), so I was able to communicate with my family daily via whatsapp and facetime. Slept most nights in the hammock because it surpringly was more comfortable. Meals were delicious and never had any GI problems.
TOWN OF CARRILLO
Na'atik provided a bike so I was able to get around town easily. The people are very friendly and I always felt safe. Because it is so small, I was able to navigate without difficulty. Na'atik also provided a town map and a walking tour. Because there are no tourist attractions in Carrillo, you get the unique opportunity to truly immerse yourself in Spanish and their Mayan culture. It is also very easy (and cheap) to get to other towns via combi because it is off that main highway.
**I highly recommend this program for anyone who is open minded and seeking a unique, off the beaten path experience.