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Reviewed April 8, 2010

La Mariposa is beautiful, small, and personal--8 simple comfortable guest rooms with private baths. Students eat together family style--good fresh mostly vegetarian food that's either raised there or is from local markets. Solar panels provide electricity and hot water, organic agriculture is practiced, water conservation encouraged, and the chickens and turkeys get table scraps. Local people are employed and the money we pay stays in Nicaragua. Everything is the opposite of wasteful exploitative tourism.

Our friend, who heard La Mariposa described as an exceptional example of responsible tourism, came home in love with the place. So we went for a month. We're old--74 and 85--and didn't expect to learn much Spanish, but we thought a lodge and language school would be a good base for visiting Nicaragua and would provide interaction with Nicaraguans.

We had no idea what an extraordinary experience it would be. We had four hours of
Spanish each morning with excellent teachers. One on one instruction took each of us from whatever level we came with and brought us to a higher level. We actually had many teachers because everyone--guys who worked there, cooks, drivers, gardener--they all talked to us . . . as best we could. These were people we wanted to be able to talk with. Hugely motivating.

Afternoons and weekends can be as filled as you want. La Mariposa is in a region famous for handcrafts so we visited artisans in the area, visited their homes because these are cottage industries. We visited a forest reserve, markets, beach, volcano, Granada. We had sessions in English and Spanish on Nicaraguan history and news.

We were the old people, but there were students of all ages and from many countries-- including a couple with young children--and our individual interests were catered to. It was beautiful to see the kids with their teen age teachers who made everything fun for them.

We were impressed with and enjoyed everyone there--teachers, staff, other students--but La Mariposa really depends on two extraordinary people, Paulette and Bergman. Paulette's lively energy and devotion to Nicaragua guide the whole enterprise. Bergman is in charge of the language school, hires teachers, develops materials, is a master teacher himself, and leads our outings with amazing knowledge and great good humor.

We left feeling like kids leaving camp friends at the end of the summer. And we look forward to going back next winter.

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank BenitaAnnArbor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 27, 2010

This was my third trip to Nicaragua and La Mariposa Spanish School and Eco Hotel. There are times when you a hesitant to return to a place for concern that you will jeopordize the fond memories stored away of previous visits. Not the case at La Mariposa ....the memories are now more vibrant than ever. What a wonderful experience. I made a video this time should you be interested in viewing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fjvEY1XXO8

  • Stayed: March 2010, traveled solo
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Thank Tropick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 20, 2010

Staying here was some of the best times of my 2 month trip! I liked traveling off the beaten track and visiting areas not known for tourism. Seeing "real life" is far more rewarding for me than going to resort tourist areas.
I spent 2 weeks at La Mariposa as a solo traveler and then was joined by my boyfriend for a couple weeks more...slightly over a month in total.
The school program was fantastic! Great instructors (very personable), challenging classes, interesting trips around the area and entertaining guides for all the adventures.
The rooms are very nice, food delicious, staff helpful and friendly, animals entertaining, and people we met through the school were wonderful.
Home stays were available through the school but after hearing mixed reviews about other places I was tentative about signing up for one. After meeting all the people associated with the school/homestay program I would have no reservations about it here.
It was great to get to know the community and area rather than to just pass through. We visited many farms, churches, learned to dance like a local, got to enjoy the fruits of the area and attended community events.
After spending a month in the program my Spanish skills were very much improved in listening, speaking and understanding.
In the future I hope to return to spend more time in rural Nicaragua. (That's where all the fun is!)

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled solo
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Thank cstickel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 17, 2010

I cant wait to go back, what a wonder wonderful place. Everyone at La Mariposa was so warm, caring and genuine. Paulette's commitment to the environment, people and animals of Nicaragua is sincere and admirable. The rooms are comfy, the atmosphere welcoming, the food delicious and the spanish lessons so helpful! I miss Marvin and Jimmy!

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank noomers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 4, 2010

I just returned from a one month stay at the Mariposa and all I can think about is HOW SOON CAN I GO BACK! My experience there met and exceeded all my very high hopes and expectations. The quality of the language instruction was superb, with one on one/two instruction by committed and very well organized and trained Nicaraguan instructors. The schools is dedicated to taking individual learning needs into account and to helping each student, whatever their level of Spanish when they arrive, maximize their learning. Besides the actual formal instruction, the school offers daily opportunities to expand your knowledge of Nicaraguan history, politics, and culture. The warmth and welcoming that is so vital a part of the Nicaraguan way of life is evident in every aspect of the Mariposa experience. There are opportunities to take horse back rides up mountains that overlook volcanoes, lakes, and the rugged and rolling green landscape of Nicaragua; to visit local homes, farms, artisans, clinics, and schools to really get a taste of day-to-day life in Nica and the many ways that people use their talents and strengths to build a life. All within the context of Paulette's commitment to protecting the environment of this country and to contributing in every way possible to the local economy.

The living accommodations are lovely - just check out the pictures you can find on the web. My room was large and clean and comfortable, with simple but homey furnishings.
I could not have asked for anything more. The grounds are beautiful and restful and the animal life is a treat not to be missed. I could get up early in the am and go talk to the monkeys and parrots, lay in a hammock and soak up affection from the most loving dogs I have ever been around (I was not especially a dog lover when I went there, but my respect and affection for them has multiplied 100 times over from being with them at the Mariposa), and listen to the sounds of the town waking up.

The staff was consistently warm and enthusiastic, and everyone, from groundskeepers to cooks, was happy to talk with you and share their work with you and do anything they could to make you more at home. People come to the Mariposa from all over the world (during my month there, there were students from US, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Turkey, England and more), and the ages ranged from 23 to 85. The diversity of experiences that people bring to the Mariposa combined with the communal atmosphere (shared meals, trips, etc.), makes for a learning experience that extends to every aspect of life there.

The friendships I made during my time there will be with me for the rest of my life. Paulette, Guillermina and Bergman (and others) have impacted my life and taken places in my heart forever. I am so grateful to have had this experience, and it has deepened my already deep commitment to Nicaragua and my sense that Nica is my true home (this was my 16th time in Nica, but my first devoted just to language study).

I can't end without mentioning the food! What could be better than having three delicious, organic, mostly vegetarian meals prepared for you and eaten communally around a big table on the terrace?? There was oohing and aahing at every meal. Only the diehard meat lovers needed a once-a-week hit at the local roast- pork -serving bar. The rest of us were in seventh heaven.

All this just skims the surface. My experience struck deep chords in me that will resonate for the rest of my life. I have made lifetime friendships and have had the honor of being taken into the hearts and homes of people in Nica. My understanding of the history and culture of Nicaragua has been greatly expanded. I have received by far the best Spanish instruction of my life (I entered the school at an intermediate level) that gives me the tools to continue on to fluency. (I had the privilege of being taught by Bergman, who is rightly described as a Renaissance man and amazing multitasker in other reviews). He is also a teacher of the highest quality, and the most patient person I have ever met in my life!.

All of this at a price that is a bargain by any standard, and with the knowledge that the money spent is helping provide employment and improvement to the local community. I signed up for next year before I even left, and I was not the only one! I am so grateful for all who make the Mariposa what it is and for all I have gained from my experience there!

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled solo
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Thank pocolisa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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