Trip reviews: My experience at Spanish School Nicaragua
Trips reviews: I have been traveling in south and Central America for years with marginal if any Spanish knowledge. Last year I visited Esteli in northern Nicaragua, and found out that there were great and affordable options for immersion Spanish in Esteli. I decided then and there that this was going to be my vacation plan for Christmas 2015.
In my search I was luckily quickly connected with Rafael a teacher of the Spanish school Nicaragua. He offered in addition to the two weeks Spanish classes a home stay with his family. Everything worked out smoothly and perfectly!
We quickly communicated about the details via email and on the day of my arrival, December 21, he waited at the bus station for two hours for me to see me home quickly and safely-a gift after 24 hours of non-stop travel from San Francisco!
That evening I had my first of many meals cooked by his wife Karla, who, as promised, is an astounding cook with a huge number of different recipes under her belt. The next day the first of 10 four-hour, one on one classes started. Rafael has a gift to communicate much information while keeping everything light and entertaining. Any time I would get a little tired he changed gear. We would go for a walk, go to a store, do role play, exchange many real stories of our life’s, both funny and sad, and much more!
We also had most meals together allowing for more Spanish conversation with him, his wife Karla, and their sweet and very mellow children Olivia and Carlos. I especially got to talk with Karla as we both enjoy cooking and learned from one another – a real cultural exchange!
During non-class times I could either relax, practice what I learned in the morning, or go on excursions either alone or with Rafael and sometimes his family. Amongst other, we went by bicycle to an awesome waterfall nearby, he showed me around at a coffee and cigar manufactory, introduced me to a project where local women produce recycled paper, and went to a park nearby. On my own, I often went down town, and also visited MiraFlor, a “very country” area nearby for a 6 hour horseback ride, and went for bike rides. Never a dull moment or lots of relaxation – whatever the day called for!
I also found it was truly special to be do included in a family, particularly for those big events like Christmas and new year. Having learned about their customs and now knowing how to prepare a typical Nicaraguan Christmas dish is totally special.
During my last couple of days with the family I got to learn how to make Nacatamales with Karla and her mother in her mothers downtown house. I was very excited to learn how to make such an authentic dish, and the involvement felt great! I am only back home for 6 days and have already passed this on to others in a little Nacatamales party.
New years was a hoot – with many small fireworks, and I got to share one of my favorite dishes with the family. Rafael had offered to continue teaching even on Saturday, the day I left, in order to make up for me showing up a day late. The whole family saw me off with hugs and good byes at the bus station.
After that I spent one more week in other places in Nicaragua and was amazed how much more comfortably I could communicate after only 2 weeks of intense Spanish with Maestro Rafael. My resolve is intact, the first Spanish book purchased, and skype lessons will hopefully resume shortly
I am very much hoping to be back here, with Rafael and his family, for more Spanish, after I hopefully stick with it and improve my Spanish during the year with Skype lessons.
By Viola Clara Ruddat.