05/19/2014 - 07/14/2014
For two months I was fortunate to call the tiny barrio of San Juan de la Concepcion home and was graced by La Mariposa's kind and excellent teachers, its staff and countless animals (I will spare you the endless photo stream of dogs, birds, turkeys, roosters, chickens, monkeys, frogs, butterflies and various unknown critters). OK, here's just one!
La Mariposa is an oasis not only because it is in the jungle but because it introduces students to the generosity and culture of Nicaraguans while simultaneously contributing to the local economy. La Mariposa is more than a language school and eco hotel. It's a farm and animal rescue, has helped programs like a women's bakery cooperative and after school programs get off the ground. It supports librarians in at least two public schools and helped create a program for people with disabilities along with other countless acts to help its neighbors.
My grammar teacher Elisa has the patience of a saint and I will reflect fondly on our weeks sitting in "Lucy's Ranchero", even those hour-long drills of verb conjugation! Learning a new language is rewarding but learning from strong, confident women like Elisa is a thrill.
Volunteering on a reforestation project. We also researched how to build bat boxes to help increase the bat population that is threatened due to development, pesticides and deforestation.
The La Mariposa experience would not have been the same without our homestay. From the moment we walked into the Blass' home, we were treated like family, despite our limited Spanish skills. Each day after school, two-year old Angelina greeted us screaming "Cha-betti! Cha-betti!" and ran into Chad's arms. Our gracious host mother, Aura Maria made the world's best frescos; juices from pitaya (dragon fruit) piña (pineapple) lemon, calala (passion fruit) among others.
Many evenings we watched (and judged from our rocking chairs) the Latin American version of Dancing with the Stars, Ballando Por un Sueno. I had heartwarming and sisterly-like conversations with their daughter Maricela who has an amazing, albeit quiet determination about her. There were fascinating conversations (lots of listening on my part) with our host father and I learned about Nicaragua's history from his first hand accounts. Stories of conflict are necessary to share but never easy to hear.
As we left San Juan I felt prepared to experience more of the sites and culture of this amazing country. A heartfelt thanks to all the people whose path I crossed that made the time at La Mariposa about more than learning Spanish including: the Blass Family, Paulette, Guillermina, Elisa, Richard, Ruth, Amanda, Marky, Joshua, Oscar, Marty, Kinema, Ismael, Gabriel, Moises, Miguel, Nixon and the Butterfly man, Erico.
Muchas gracias por todo!
Chad joins teachers and other students in a soccer game.