Spring Break is a fabulous time to create an unforgettable Girl Scouting memory at Our Cabaña. Lush grounds with bright blooming flowers greeted us as we walked through the stunning blue door. The globe sculpture with five girls representing the WAGGGS regions and the swings are two highlights not to be missed. The delicious meals in the dining hall allowed us to experience local cuisine. Every other day, we took day trips to amazing cities and at each location we were met by a local tour guide who immersed us in their unique culture, cathedrals, historic buildings and markets including Tepoztlán with a colorful ice cream shop, Tlayacapan with a hands-on pottery demonstration, Xochicalco with ruin climbing, Taxco the Silver City with lemon box carvings in the town square, and Cuernavaca with lunch on the patio of a local restaurant, the Brady House and Jardín Borda. On the other days, we enjoyed scavenger hunts, dance lessons, arts and crafts, swimming, grocery store discoveries at Superama, and a brisk walk to Teopanzolco (local ruins). We also completed a service project by painting over graffiti at a nearby women’s shelter. Topping of the week was the pin ceremony with a bon fire, camp song singing, and lots of laughter.
By: Rebecca, age 17, Girl Scouts - North Carolina Coastal Pines
Our Cabaña was officially opened in July of 1957. The first participants attended a Juliette Low Session. It was during this session that the "Our Cabaña Song" was written using a traditional Mexican tune sung at birthdays. A cabaña is a hide-away cabin in the woods, surrounded by nature. Our Cabaña is safely nestled in the leafy suburbs of Cuernavaca, a sprawling city of one million people.
The Our Cabaña site was expanded in 1969 by adding two more dormitories and a hall for evening programs and other indoor activities. Modifications have been made over the years to keep abreast of technological advancements and new methods of site maintenance. The newest addition is an internet room and lounge. Today, Our Cabaña can accommodate over 100 participants, making it the largest of the four world centers. The cornerstone for this growth has always been to embrace the Mexican culture and heritage, cherished and nourished by successive members of staff.
The program at Our Cabaña usually includes a variety of activities – wide games, arts and crafts, swimming, singing, a Mexican fiesta, workshops on current WAGGGS initiatives, and, during most events, an opportunity to participate in a service project with the local community. Each event may include sightseeing and shopping trips to Cuernavaca, Taxco (a silver city), the rural village of Tepoztlán where there is a traditional Mexican craft market or to the archaeological site of Xochicalco. The majority of the events at Our Cabaña are bilingual with sessions being conducted in both English and Spanish.
Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is an important Mexican tradition. The souls of the dead are believed to return to earth on November 2nd. Families build altars in their homes and visit graveyards to commune with their dead, taking garlands and gifts of the dead one’s favorite foods and objects. A happy atmosphere prevails. Flowers are used in profusion, especially marigolds which have had ceremonial importance since before Spanish times.
Los Posadas is a Christmas custom recreating the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem for the birth of Christ. Beginning on the night of December 16th, and continuing each night through the 24th, people gather at the church and process with lighted candles from house to house. On the final night a selected house will provide travelers with treats, and a piñata for children.
Día de los Reyes Magos (Day of the Three Wise Men) is celebrated on January 6th and recalls the Three Wise Men bringing gifts to the Christ child. On this day friends gather together to celebrate with a sweet bread called ‘rosca’. Hidden in the bread is a small doll that represents the baby Jesus. The person who gets the doll in his slice of bread becomes the godfather and is obligated to present a larger figure of the Christ child at church on February 2nd.
Music is a very important part of Mexican culture. No fiesta is complete without someone producing a guitar for sing-a-long and all the beautiful folk songs that are famous and loved all over the world. Special events often include a band called a mariachi that consists of singers, brass instruments and guitars.
A trip to Our Cabaña from the United States usually requires 2 years of planning, raising money and learning some Spanish. Girls under 18 years of age may have to have written, notarized consent from both parents for their travel.
If you plan to attend a program (event) session, you may need to apply 18 months in advance as there may be a group limit for certain sessions. You also need to make a deposit to hold your reservation so you need to be aware of the various payment schedules. Mexico uses Mexican Pesos (MXN).
Most groups start their fund raising two years out and costs do fluctuate but you need to develop a budget to include: passport fees, air fare, travel insurance, accident insurance, bus, overnight and meals, program (event) fees as listed in the activity brochures. Don’t forget laundry, internet access, souvenirs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, pins, and patches. Scholarships are available for anyone interested in attending an event at Our Cabaña as a participant who might need some financial support or who might want to serve as a volunteer at the World Center. If you are interested, please complete this form.
Mexico uses pesos but Our Cabaña and Ticalli (the Girl Guide center in Mexico City) will accept US dollars (actual cash not a check or credit card) for your fees. Elsewhere you will need pesos. It is much easier to convert spending money into pesos in the U.S.
Cuernavaca is situated in the city of eternal spring with 365 days of sunshine. The year is split into two distinct seasons, the dry season from October - May and the rainy season from June - September.
The climate of Cuernavaca is unique. The weather becomes warmer in April and May (may reach 90° F). In the dry season from November to April they enjoy warm mornings and cool nights (68-70° F). December and January are the coolest months of the year (no less than 65° F). During summer time (August especially), it rains in the evenings and nights.
You need to pack only what you can carry (or pull). Appropriate dress in Mexico is different from the United States. Shorts should be long (mid-thigh to knee) and shirts should have sleeves (no spaghetti straps or bras showing). The Girl Scout uniform (pin, vest, scarf, white blouse) is appropriate for flag ceremonies and the group photo. The group may also want to have a group/event t-shirt or scarf to wear for informal occasions. Sheets and towels are provided at both Our Cabaña and Ticalli. Laundry facilities are available at Our Cabaña.
If you plan to spend time in Mexico City at the beginning and/or end of your visit to Our Cabaña, you may wish to stay at Ticalli. Ticalli is a Girl Guide and Girl Scout hostel owned and operated by the Guías de México and offers Our Cabaña visitors a place to stay while in Mexico City. It is centrally located near the Reforma and is surrounded by restaurants, churches, museums, public transportation and Chapultepec Park.
Ticalli has six dormitory rooms accommodating eight to twelve people as well as two double rooms plus five bathroom units. This will accommodate eighty people at a time. Cots and camp beds are also available if required. Bed linen and towels are provided. Ticalli can offer Bed and Breakfast accommodation which includes a continental breakfast of cereal, juice, coffee, tea, rolls, butter and jam.
Traveling From Mexico City to Cuernavaca
If you arrive earlier than your event dates and plan to stay at Ticalli, the Mexican Guide Hostel in Mexico City, then Our Cabaña can make arrangements to collect you from Ticalli at 1:00pm on the first day of the event and bring you to Our Cabaña.
If you are arriving at the Mexico City airport on the first day of the event and wish to travel directly to Our Cabaña, they can arrange for a bus to meet your group at the Mexico City airport (groups must be 4 or more people). They always do their best to match up groups arriving at the airport at similar times.
You can also decide to travel to Our Cabaña from the airport using the shuttle bus service "Pullman de Morelos" http://www.pullman.mx/gpullman.php. Ask for a ticket to "Casino de la Selva". Buses leave Mexico City for Cuernavaca every 15 minutes from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm. Tickets are issued for specific departure times and a specific seat number. You must occupy the seat number assigned for your departure time. Bus fare is payable in Mexican pesos. Review information about the Mexico City airport. There are two different airport terminals and each terminal has its own bus ticket counter and pick up location.
From elsewhere in Mexico City...
Take a taxi to Terminal Central de Autobuses del Sur "Taxqueña" and look for "Pullman de Morelos". Ask for a ticket to "Casino de la Selva".
In Cuernavaca to Our Cabaña
There is an authorized taxi service at the bus station where ticket prices are based on zones determined at the ticket counter. If the ticket counter is not open, ask a driver to take you to "Nuestra Cabaña, Rio Mayo esquina Rio Lerma, Colonia Vista Hermosa". (if you have it written down, you can just hand it to the taxi driver). In Cuernavaca it is still safe to hail taxis on the street. Remember that you should NOT do this in Mexico City. Be prepared to pay in pesos and always confirm the price before the journey starts.
Want to know more about Our Cabaña? Contact the Chair of the Friends of Our Cabaña: