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All reviews learn spanish local community two weeks home stay host family afternoon activities all ages san juan learning experience horseback riding central america very special place other guests nicaraguan history year old daughter four hours interesting people
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Reviewed 25 September 2017

As a single traveler in my late 20s, I wasn’t totally sure what to expect when I decided to spend six weeks at La Mariposa. It turned out to be an incredible experience and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity. Before arriving, I had been a little nervous about being able to connect with other people during my time there. Within the first week, I realized that this would not be an issue. In fact, the sense of community that I felt with other students, La Mariposa staff, and my homestay family was one of the highlights of my trip. Here are some other notable details from my experience:

•Everyone in the office and all of the teachers that I worked with were very flexible and easily accommodated any request that I had. For example, I wanted to change my volunteer placement after a couple of weeks (for timing purposes and to try something different). I talked to Hassell in the office and she described the other options and helped me pick one. My grammar and conversation teachers were able to accommodate the change in the timing of my volunteer work so that I could continue to study with them.
•The kitchen staff were also wonderful in this regard. I had a dietary restriction and they would make me a special plate when needed. The food was plant-based and very yummy!
•There were many opportunities for day trips to other cities and local activities arranged by La Mariposa. I was also able to travel quite a bit on the weekends (both alone and with other students) and the staff and teachers were great resources for planning and very helpful.
•The one-on-one Spanish classes were great for me! My grammar teacher asked me what I wanted to work on and created a plan for my time there. She found out I liked to read and used books in many of my lessons. I had a project for my volunteer placement and my amazing conversation and grammar teachers talked with me about it, gave guidance and helped me work on the project. It was a wonderful opportunity to use all of the Spanish I was learning.
•I stayed in the hotel for the first week that I was there and then moved to a host family’s home for the remainder of the time. I was a little nervous about making the move and my teachers and the staff at the school were very supportive and asked questions about my experience to follow-up.
My host family was wonderful and made me feel at home right away.
•I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the community through the volunteer work. La Mariposa has many projects and it seems that they are really making a positive impact in the community on a broad scale. Their devotion to the environment and animals was also evident and I enjoyed being a part of that.

I would encourage travelers to read up about Nicaragua and La Mariposa ahead of time as this type of travel may not be for everyone. As the website states, it is not a luxury resort. In the surrounding community, it is uncommon to find running water or air conditioning. The La Mariposa website and Facebook page are detailed, helpful and seem to offer accurate descriptions. I also found that staff were very responsive to email questions/concerns.

In sum, I think La Mariposa is a very special place with some remarkable people. I loved my time there and I hope to return next year for another stay!

  • Stayed: July 2017, travelled solo
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Thank _s_burke703
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 August 2017

For my second trip in 2 years... Learn Spanish in a one-on-one setting, at your own pace, with a native speaker. One month (last year) 2 weeks (this year) helped me moving from 'thinking' I can to really I can !!!
Nice set-up... Better than basic.. Great food !!
Great companionship..
I made friends (facebook and actual life!!) with staff, residents, students and families .
Highly recommended.

Room Tip: Eco hotel or homestay ...
  • Stayed: August 2017, travelled solo
    • Value
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Thank baalbakisamih
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 August 2017

My absolute favorite part of the experience was the amazing host family I was able to stay with. Not only was staying with them a vital part of improving my Spanish, but the family really took me in and treated me as one of their own. It was a privilege to be able to spend 5 weeks with them. As if my host family wasn't wonderful enough, the teachers at the school were great to converse with and learn from. They met me at my ability level, and were incredibly responsive when I wanted to increase or slow the pace at which I was learning. They were also fun and it was awesome to be able to exchange culture, ideas, etc with them. My volunteer placement was also an overwhelmingly positive part of my stay. The two women who led the program for children with physical and intellectual disabilities were very knowledgeable, caring, and warm. I not only learned a lot from them in the work they did, but they also helped me with my Spanish, too. The families and kids we worked with made each day great. Finally, the staff at La Mariposa from admin to kitchen and grounds staff were kind and made my time in Nicaragua incredibly easy to figure out. I hope to return soon!

Room Tip: Stay with a host family!
Stayed: June 2017, travelled solo
Thank WhitneyTX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 August 2017

The worst part of my time at La Mariposa was that I was only able to stay a week, which was only long enough to get a taste. Two weeks or more would have been better, especially since my goal was to learn more Spanish. I learned a lot--the teacher and the language partner (each morning was split between the two) were great about working with me at my level (very beginner) while still mostly speaking Spanish so that I could learn better.

I split my stay between an eco-cabin and an eco-hotel room. Having the attached bathroom was a nice feature of the hotel, but the cabin was very comfortable and a little cooler at night. The food was all local and mostly authentic (some dishes seemed adapted a bit for American palates)--and it was all very good. The hospitality was excellent. La Mariposa employs a lot of locals, so one meets many people, all of whom are very friendly.

It's not only the staff, however, but the guests who help make La Mariposa special. People of all ages from all over the world who end up eating meals and having other experiences together. It's not a resort, so bear that in mind. On the other hand, it's a comfortable, secure, affordable way to enjoy the beauty of the area and be immersed in its language and culture. I'd go again in a heartbeat.

Room Tip: Cabins are rustic but comfortable. Eco hotel is more typical lodging. Second floor catches more breeze. Be prepared--it's always humid.
  • Stayed: July 2017, travelled solo
    • Value
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Thank Nebtraveler817
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 August 2017 via mobile

I chose mariposa because they were able to accommodate all the different needs of our family. My 13 year old daughter, having taken 1 year is Spanish, stayed with a family near the school, my 10 year old was a complete beginner, my husband needed medical Spanish and I'm fluent. The one to one instruction allows for customizing. Also, I loved that my daughter could live with a family at such a young age, but I was also close by. I highly recommend the school for families who want their kids to see a whole different way of life. My daughter gained a new appreciation for modern conveniences we take for granted (indoor plumbing), but she was also incredibly moved by the generosity and friendliness of the Nicaraguan people. The excursions with the school were fun and interesting, and the food was tasty and healthy. Overall a wonderful time for all.

Stayed: August 2017, travelled with family
Thank ShanaW264
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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