First of all, let the fact that I have never posted a review on a single other place I have visited be a testament to how incredible this place is because after 8 months of being home, I am still motivated to share my fond memories of La Mariposa. While I was searching of an eco-friendly place where I could immerse myself in not only a Spanish, which I barely knew, but a culture rich in heritage, volunteer if I should choose to do so, have a list of adventures on a whiteboard to choose from each week with pre-arranged transportation while supporting the local economy and native population, I admitted to myself that I was being a bit too idyllic. But, that was antes de fui a la escuela de La Mariposa. After living for two months with a Mariposa host family in Nicaragua, studying, and traveling, I am able to use Spanish on a daily basis with my patients. There is no doubt that La Mariposa has mastered the task of individualizing language acquisition and tailoring it to your needs, not to mention this happens surrounded by flora and fauna in the lush rainforest. If you are looking to study Spanish in a culture that welcomes you and encourages your efforts to learn-look no further. Even those who help run the Mariposa will practice spanish with you while they cook or garden or tend to the animals. Hands down, the one-on-one instruction is with the best teachers I have ever met.(I have two masters degrees and am a licensed health care provider in the USA, so I have had my fair share of teachers and professors, preceptors, and residents.) The food at La Mariposa is something I still dream about. Warning: if you are a carnivore, you might find yourself reconsidering vegetarianism. Though accommodations are not posh, I found them more than sufficient and luxurious compared to backpacking, camping, or sleeping in rustic cabins. If you have an appetite for adventure, bug spray, and are interested in expanding your life experiences, this is a "must-see" and "must-do" stop for you. Where can you study at your leisure, leave your own hand prints through a variety of volunteer opportunities, roam the jungle for ripe aguacates the size of small marsupials, munch on sweet pitaya, and explore a country where monkeys and volcanoes are easily accessible? La Mariposa! You won't be disappointed... until you have to leave one of the most dynamic and captivating places on earth-so soak up as much as you can while you are there.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- La Mariposa is a small, friendly non-profit Spanish school and eco-hotel, just outside the small town of La Concepcion, Nicaragua. Only an hour from Nicaragua's major attractions - Granada, the Pacific Coast, the Laguna de Apoyo, Masaya volcano - and 45 minutes from Managua airport, La Mariposa is surrounded by organic coffee, banana trees and flower gardens. Our cool, green climate (we are 500 meters above sea level - makes a real difference to the temperature) is ideal for studying Spanish! Our conservation efforts - though small scale - have vastly increased our bird population, butterflies and even frogs! We offer intensive Spanish classes in our purpose built classrooms or in outdoor classrooms in our delightful grounds, full of tropical plants and rescued animals. Classes are mostly one on one (max 2 or 3 in a class) and we cater for all levels form beginner to advanced, including specially designed classes for children. We have an extensive library with Spanish study materials and a selection of books in English on Nicaraguan history, development issues etc. We organize a full week (that includes weekends) of activities, including cooking and salsa classes, classes on the history of Nicaragua and a weekly update of what is happening in the Nicaraguan news. These are delivered in Spanish to help with progress in Spanish and with English translation if necessary. On 3 afternoons and Saturdays we offer trips out to local places of interest as well as the Masaya volcano by night, the Masaya markets and artesanias, Granada, Leon, the Laguna de Apoyo, the Pacific beach, Managua, Catarina, the Pueblos Blancos and more! The trips are rotated on a monthly schedule. There are various accomodation options - Students can stay in the eco-hotel (ensuite rooms) or our eco rooms (cheaper). There is a also a large (en suite) family room. Situated about 5 mins from the main school/hotel is our nature reserve. There are now 2 cabins in the reserve, each with two bedrooms, seating area, shower and compostable latrine, private terrace and garden, small kitchen (though you can of course eat all meals at the main hotel) - these are ideal for families with kids who like a bit more space to run around! There are of course a few friendly rescued dogs to keep the kids happy!! We use solar power - for heated water in all of the showers as well as to provide electricity, conserve rainwater,have a number of recycling schemes and have started our own successful organic farm which provides some of the eggs, veggies, coffee consumed at the Mariposa. And much more. We use our income to maximise the employment of local people (currently employing 80 teachers, maintenance and kitchen staff) and undertake a number of projects in the local community. You can opt to volunteer at one of our community or environmental projects, living in a homestay with a local family. Amongst other projects, we are currently offering volunteer placements in the nature reserve, in local schools, with a day care project or with disabled children. You are also welcome to help out the Mariposa workers - whether feeding our rescued animals or cooking up our healthy meals. All of which is a great way to improve that Spanish! We have also recently opened, on another but close by site, a study centre specifically designed to cater for groups of students. We offer an individualized curriculum which can include Spanish classes, activities and classes on the history, culture and environment of Nicaragua. We can also arrange community service work for groups. Accommodation is in two eco built dormitories, each of which has 10 beds (bunk style). The eating/meeting hall is a lovely structure built of straw bales and thatched roofing. Classrooms face a terrace with great views of the Masaya volcano. Meals are always freshly cooked, often using organic veggies from our farm. And of course there are solar heated showers and solar powered electricity. ... more less