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“Best way to learn Spanish!”

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La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Masaya
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Reviewed 2 October 2017

I was a solo traveler on my first trip by myself, and didn't know what to expect when I first got to Nicaragua - but I am beyond satisfied with how my five weeks at La Mariposa turned out! My flight was scheduled to arrive late in Managua, but it was very easy to schedule a ride from the school - they even dropped me off directly at my homestay on the first night! My homestay was very welcoming, and my host mom offered to walk me to the school for my first day of class. The moment that I entered the school I felt welcomed by all of the staff members and fellow students. Every staff member in the office addressed me by name, beginning on the day that I arrived to the school and continued through my five week stay. There are so many wonderful reasons to stay at La Mariposa it is difficult to list them all, but here are a few:

- All of the staff members are very friendly, flexible, and truly care about the comfort of their guests. I was involved in volunteering for two weeks of my stay (and jumped around between several positions) but decided that I would rather participate in activities, and the staff made these changes with no problem!
- The Spanish classes are at the perfect level (because they are one on one and tailored to what you would like to learn!). All of my conversation teachers and grammar teacher encouraged me to speak in only Spanish (even though I had started with little Spanish), and by the end of my trip I felt that I had learned a tremendous amount. Having two different kinds of classes, grammar and conversation, is very helpful. The teachers do a great job of communicating as well, so they both know what you are working on in the other class, and you can spend more time practicing certain tenses. The classes are held outside, and you can also go on a walk into town - this makes it much easier to spend four hours a day in classes without getting too tired!
- The location is great! There are beautiful views of Volcan Masaya just up the hill from La Mariposa, and it is about an hour drive to many activities, including Granada, Laguna De Apoyo, etc.
- The food is amazing. Everything is fresh, and the majority of the food is vegetarian! There are also great homemade juices served with every lunch.

My experience in the homestay was also a large contributor to my unforgettable experience in Nicaragua. I learned about how families live in Nicaragua, how to cook traditional foods, and practiced Spanish much more than I would have in the hotel. I also enjoyed building great relationships with my host parents and sisters, and it was very fun to have more people to talk to in Spanish! My homestay was very welcoming, and I always felt safe and at home in their house. My room was also very large and private!

While I enjoyed everything about my stay in La Mariposa, it may not be for everyone. I would suggest reading as much as you can about La Mariposa (on their website and through reviews) and the surrounding area. It is a very simple hotel, and the homestay is much the same! There is little or no running water in the city, and the closest supermarket is a microbus ride away. In my homestay, there was only cold water for showers, however the school also offers showers for those staying in the homestay.

That being said, my experience at La Mariposa Spanish School was unforgettable. I met so many amazing people, had many great experiences volunteering and participating in activities, and I expect to return in the future. Many of the reviews I have read have mentioned not having a long enough stay at La Mariposa, and even though I was lucky enough to have 5 weeks in the school I agree - I suggest spending as much time as possible in La Mariposa, because it is an amazing place!

Room Tip: Stay with a host family, it is a great way to learn more Spanish and more about the community!
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  • Stayed: September 2017, travelled solo
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1  Thank Haley B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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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 ...
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  • Stayed: August 2017, travelled solo
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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!
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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 bree...
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  • Stayed: July 2017, travelled solo
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Thank Nebtraveler817
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel

Address: De la Cancha, 200 metros al sur, 50 al este | San Juan de la Concepcion, Masaya, Nicaragua
Region: Nicaragua > Masaya Department > Masaya
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Masaya
Price Range: €16 - €29 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 16
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 

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