The best hotel I stayed in during my trip, I can't recommend this place enough! I stayed at La Mariposa for a month and a half as a volunteer and a spanish student and had an incredible experience. The food is great, they have weekly activities and trips all over southwestern Nicaragua, and the spanish school is top notch. My spanish has improved by leaps and bounds, I’ve learned about a wide range of topics relating to Nicaragua (history, politics, food, sports, religion, volunteerism, and the environment), and I felt like I was interacting with the local community in a responsible way, all while having a very good time. Make sure you read their website and know what you’re getting yourself into before you come, and you better not be allergic to dogs. Both the school and the hotel are situated inside a two story white manse surrounded and encroached upon by all maner of exoctic plants and rescued animals. The building itself feels alive at times, animated by the running and playing of the ten dogs, the sounds of the half dozen or so species of birds, and the internal conflict and drama of the monkey cage. The village of San Juan de la Concepcion is tiny, and feels somewhat off the beaten path, but its location along a bus rout in the middle of southwestern Nicaragua makes the cities of Masaya, Managua, and Granada all easily accessible. As long as you're not claustrophobic the Nicaraguan bus system is very good, and I found the Hotel’s location pleasantly out-of-the-way while also only a short bus ride from metropolitan ´´society.´´ Not that I ever had to go out of my way to visit other parts of the country while I stayed at La Mariposa; the Hotel has an excellent array of weekly activities and trips around Nicaragua´s southwest. While studying spanish at La Mariposa I was able to visit Managua, Granada, Masaya, La Laguna de Apoyo, La Boquita (scenic pacific coast beach with excellent outdoor restaurant), and Volcan Masaya National Park, all through La Mariposa trips. I also went on weekend hikes and horseback rides, and the monthly full moon hike. Keep in mind my focus during my stay was not on the activity program; I was a homestay volunteer and spanish student, and usually chose not to go on activities in favor of classes. More spanish stuck in my head from a month and a half of classes at La Mariposa than from four years of high school classes. All of the teachers I had were patient, challenging, and conversational. I especially enjoyed my conversation classes, in which I felt comfortable talking about any subject and was able not only to practice my spanish, but also to learn a lot about Nicaragua and Nicaraguan culture. I chose to do volunteer work while I was at La Mariposa, and worked building a house at their organic farm. The other workers were all Nicaraguan, which was a great opportunity to practice my spanish. While I was there other volunteers were doing things like working at local public schools, watering plants on the farm, tending to La Mariposa grounds, and (those with medical experience) working in the local health clinic.
Paulette Goudge, the owner of La Mariposa and a published author on the subject, is of the philosophy that while volunteers often can help at their specific assignment, the experience is really more about what the volunteer is able to learn there, and that the Nicaraguan workers do the bulk of the work organizing the volunteers themselves. What I mean to say is, there’s no racial perception that we as intelligent, capable westerners, are coming in to aid the hapless Nicaraguans. She genuinely cares about her work and the region as I could plainly see when a massive forest fire burnt about a third of the nearby Volcan Masaya National Park while I was at La Mariposa and Paulette voluntarily contributed over 4,000 dollars in resources to help combat the flame. I’ve read the very few negative reviews of La Mariposa on this website, and frankly I think they´re garbage. This isn’t the Princess Hilton in Managua, but you’d think that much would be obvious though even the most surface level research before your trip. I stayed in a homestay while I was at La Mariposa, but I spent most of my time at the hotel, and I found that the bathrooms were always clean, the workers were genuinely welcoming and personable, and I didn’t know a single hotel guest who complained about their room. Its not a country club, or a party hostel for that matter. If you’re looking for drugs, sex, and mayhem, look elsewhere. There are weekly trips to local bars, smoking is allowed, and the kitchen is stocked with one dollar Tona beers. The social life consists of talking/having a drink with the other guests, hiking, and visiting the nearby towns and cities. I can imagine that the degree of social excitement would vary widely depending on the number/tastes of the given group of guests, but in my time I met many interesting people and felt my meager attention span to be more than satisfied. I had a great time visiting other parts of the country on La Mariposa trips and activities, I had great experiences in both my volunteer assignment and in my homestay, and my Spanish improved dramatically. I especially liked the library (an incredibly satisfying selection of both novels and texts on a wide range of historical, political, and cultural topics), monkey cage, and the kitchen staff’s homemade “salsa verde.”
- 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. Students can stay in the eco-hotel or our cabin. We use solar power - for heated water in your shower as well as 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 45 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 on our small organic farm, on a community garden scheme, in local schools, with a day care project. 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 8 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
- Also Known As:
- La Mariposa Spanish School And Eco Hotel Nicaragua/Masaya