Well after my month down in the Orosi Valley, I figured learning Spanish whilst on the road isn’t just a great way to improve your language skills but also a great way for a solo traveller to meet people and get to know the community. So once again I hit the internet again looking for inspiraton. I was in north Costa Rica by this time in Playa Hermosa (beautiful beach) and saw that just over the border in Nicaragua there was a beach town called San Juan del Sur with many language schools and also bars, good seafood restaurants, internet cafes, surfing hangouts and clubs. So I thought… hmmm perfect!
So after two buses and a taxi, I arrived in San Juan del Sur late afternoon. After a mini walkaround I settled on a backpackers hostel of which there were many. It was on the main street leading down to the beach. After dropping off my kit, I went in search of a language school. I always find it better to get to a place and book stuff rather than book ahead you can always negotiate a better deal. I had a couple in mind and went off in search of the schools.
The first one seemed fine, one to one personal classes 4 hours every morning, Monday to Friday done by lunch for under $100. $5 an hour great value. Everyday, we would do a grammar lesson, reading and writing and finish off with conversation to build up the knowledge and confidence. This sort of training in Spain would cost roughly euros 250 per week.
After school, there was so much to do, there are plenty of beach bars and restaurants. Some for the backpacker or easy laid back traveller with pool tables, live music and cheap beer. There was expensive restaurants with fresh catch of the day and exotic menus and also ‘Rancho’ style bars, open bars playing latin american music, salsa, merengue what have you while cooking up fresh fish on a wood barbecue with hammocks dotted all over to chill out or let the food go down in style.
In the evening the town came alive and all the travellers, language students, surfers and tourists came down to the beach and the town rocked with a party atmosphere until the early hours. It was a great way to have fun, dance the salsa.. badly, swap stories.
Learning Spanish in Granada, Nicaragua
I stayed in San Juan del Sur for a couple of weeks and heard there was a lot going in Granada that it was up and coming wth loads of language schools and a great base to arrange trips throughout Nicaragua. So I jumped on a minibus (or as they call them microbus) and changed onto a chicken bus at Rivas.
I arrived late afternoon and it was hot! I had done my research and headed straight for one to one tutoring on the Calzada (main Street). I spoke to the owner Roger, a good guy who made me a great deal on 3 weeks Spanish and booked me a family stay with ‘Mama Chagwa’ a well known local woman who made made great Nacatamales to sell. Nacatamales are greasy dish made with corn, lard, vegetables, rice, and pork—all tied together in greasy dark green leaves – go to be tried but heavy on the wasitline! Needless to say Mama Chagwa looked after me and was made to feel very welcome. I inflicted my poor Spanish on her and she didn’t seem to mind.
The school was great located on the Calzada so plenty of ‘gringo’ style bars and restaurants and nightlife on the doorstep. There were plenty of students so making friends and socializing was easy. The lessons were well presented and I felt my Spanish improved greatly.
There were plenty of activities including boat trips around the many Islands on lake Nicaragua to see the wild monkeys on Monkey Island or to see Volcan Masaya an active volcano on route to Managau. There are many museums and beautiful colonial churches and buildings all within walking distance – plenty for the budding photographer to get stuck into..
I loved being in Granada the first time, it’s a great place to meet people and have a good time, it might be a bit busy, full of rich tourists on package tours and backpackers alike but a sunny and hot relaxing location to recharge the batteries..