You can now book your sustainable rural adventure with La Mariposa

By horse or by foot – views of the live crater of the Masaya Volcano and, in the distance, the crater lake , Laguna de Masaya. L to R - Ariel, who leads the horses; Linda, group member; Franklin, local guide; Marlin, program coordinator; Nick, group member and photographer; Ismael, program coordinator and Bismark, local guide.

By horse or by foot – views of the live crater of the Masaya Volcano and, in the distance, the crater lake , Laguna de Masaya. L to R – Ariel, who leads the horses; Linda, group member; Franklin, local guide; Marlin, program coordinator; Nick, group member and photographer; Ismael, program coordinator and Bismark, local guide.

SUSTAINABLE ADVENTURE WITH THE COMMUNITIES OF THE MASAYA VOLCANO

La Mariposa has worked for several years with our neighboring indigenous communities – primarily the barrios of Panamá, Aguirre and Venecia – now we can offer a two week sustainable tourism program of exceptional diversity, based in these communities and the surrounding landscapes. Our program has such variety and depth thanks to our longstanding relationships with the communities, our focus on assisting their self-development and our commitment to protecting the environment.

Trekking the rim of the Masaya volcano and visting indigenous communities along the way

Trekking the rim of the Masaya volcano and visting indigenous communities along the way

Our guides and homestays are from the local communities. We are not experts in any one specialty but can tell you a great deal about the area – from its history, geography, myths and legends to the flora and fauna. We introduce you to different farming practices, organic and non-organic and products as varied as pineapple and coffee. We can show you traditional medicinal plants and healing practices. We focus on the efforts of the communities to combat the impact of climate change, especially since the serious drought in 2014.

One of the indigenous communities we visit, the Aguirre family. They will teach us about their history, their organic integrated farm, local flora and fauna and their medicinal plants.

One of the indigenous communities we visit, the Aguirre family. They will teach us about their history, their organic integrated farm, local flora and fauna and their medicinal plants.

The program includes:

Riding and hiking through stunning scenery, exploring a variety of natural eco systems including Pacific dry tropical forest, a live volcanic crater, lava flows, open grassland, a crater lake.

  • Laguna de Masaya (from the Masaya side)

    Laguna de Masaya (from the Masaya side)

Visiting a variety of local farms, looking at the impact humans have had on the various landscapes – especially through farming but also, more recently, tourist developments.

  • View of the Masaya Volcano from a tobacco farm. You will see the mixture of types of small scale agriculture, of which this is one example. We can see, in season, how different crops like tobacco and coffee are processed.

    View of the Masaya Volcano from a tobacco farm. You will see the mixture of types of small scale agriculture, of which this is one example. We can see, in season, how different crops like tobacco and coffee are processed.Interacting with the communities around the rim of the Masaya Volcano, focusing especially on the indigenous, who have received the least input from national/local authorities and so have retained many indigenous customs.

    Interacting with the communities around the rim of the Masaya Volcano, focusing especially on the indigenous, who have received the least input from national/local authorities and so have retained many indigenous customs.

  • Meet Don Pablo who has lived here for 60 years, loves to tell his story and introduce us to his cows.

    Meet Don Pablo who has lived here for 60 years, loves to tell his story and introduce us to his cows.

    Learning about traditional food and cooking, music and dance, natural medicine, myths and legends, the history of the area…….

    Helping to provide funds and volunteer help for developments requested by the communities themselves. The lack of official interest has also meant of course that the level of poverty and access to basic facilities such as drinking water and schooling has been severely restricted.

  • Mariposa volunteers laying water pipes with the Aguirre community

    Mariposa volunteers laying water pipes with the Aguirre community

    Staying with local families, with overnights in hammocks, offers a real way to understand the problems and joys of community life as well as ensuring that resources go directly to local families.

    Trying to keep our tourist footprint as light as possible. Transport is mostly by foot or horseback. We use motor vehicles only when absolutely necessary!

  • Trekking around the rim of the crater of the Masaya Volcano on horseback

    Trekking around the rim of the crater of the Masaya Volcano on horseback

    Bird watching opportunities and the chance to observe night animals at our specially built observation hide.

  • Black headed trogon...just one of the many species of birds living around the Masaya volcano

    Black headed trogon…just one of the many species of birds living around the Masaya volcano

    The program has been worked out with the communities who will benefit directly from the income. The communities also receive help in the form of construction, education, drinking water projects and more. A major Mariposa project involves donating eco cookers to reduce the reliance on firewood and reduce smoke emission, thus mitigating health risks associated with cooking on open fires. This project has been linked in with reforestation so when families accept a cooker from us they also take trees from our tree nursery to plant on their land.

  • Eco cookers donated by La Mariposa

    Eco cookers donated by La Mariposa

    Reaforesting the shores of the Laguna de Masaya

    Reaforesting the shores of the Laguna de Masaya

    This program is:

    • a 14-day program but you can opt to do one week, you can also combine with the Mariposa Spanish class/activity program the preceding week or the succeeding week.

    • The group needs a minimum of 3 people to function. Maximum 6.

    • Cost for one week per person is $450

  • Thanks to Nick Saraceni, Marlon Reyes, Tim salt and Ann Tagawa for the photos
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A Week in the Life of a Mariposa Volunteer

January 20, 2013

Una Semana en Rincon de Cuentos, the Reading Corner

by Jennifer Spring, homestay student at La Mariposa 1/6-2/3

A microbus ride to La Concha, a mototaxi lift into Barrio Santiago, and a walk through orange groves delivered me and fellow volunteer Angie Popek to El Rincon last Monday.  This is the Reading Corner  (literally the Story Nook), a little school maintained and staffed by La Mariposa as a community center.  It provides enrichment for children after school and during vacations, as well as space for adult continuing education the other half of the day.

The reading corner at work

 

 

 

 

 

Angie and I arrive our first morning in the back of the little black La Mariposa pickup truck.  Ruth Jansen, one of the interns here handling the many details of running the school, the hotel, and various projects, is along to introduce us to the teachers, Rosa and Maydelin.  The truck is on the way to a produce pickup for the kitchen at La Mariposa. The ride is picturesque for sure, but Angie and I are also concerned with memorizing all the turns on the route so we can find our way home and be able to return by ourselves the next day!

We begin the morning by helping Rosa set up the school for the kids.  We take down the barbed wire fence, open the colorful shutters, set out books, puzzles, drawing paper, and a craft project of making necklaces of cut straws and paper flowers.  The children arrive in family groups, some from right across the lane.  Most have American names pronounced with a heavy accent and still sound foreign until you finally recognize… “oh, it’s Edgar!”  About 10 kids arrive, shy and polite but friendly and curious about us, of course.  The littlest ones walk up to us with their hands held palms together and fingers pointing forward, a simple and sweet gesture of greeting and respect.  All but the youngest children are reading Spanish. Working with kids here is much the same as at home– and probably the world over.  All kids appreciate loving individual attention and appreciation of what they have accomplished, as well as a chance to learn something new.

My background is elementary education.  For the past three years, I’ve taught in a literacy program for students in a low income area of Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Many of our students are from immigrant families and speak Spanish at home.  I decided to pursue a certification in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) in order to learn additional skills for teaching literacy, and took vacation time and a leave of absence to spend a month in Nicaragua working intensively on learning Spanish.

Reading with the kids at home

 

 

 

 

 

3A highlight of each day was recess on the avocado-littered patio.  With old but serviceable balls, we played kickball and baseball (your fist is the bat) with leaf piles for bases.  Angie and I joined in of course, and so did Rosa and her husband Moises.  The toddlers wandered through the playing field and were never run over.  There was always a lot of laughter, and good sportsmanship.  We shouted “foul!” and “safe” in English, but everything else in Spanish.  One day I asked Rosa if I could teach a favorite, good-for-all-ages game. With a few Spanish words and moving people around by the shoulders, the rules were conveyed and and the game was enthusiastically played for quite awhile.  It’s a wonderful feeling to make a contribution.  Rosa commented that part of what made it a good game was that no one got hurt!  Angie and I learned how to play new games too, including El Raton y El Gato– a good chasing game!

On Wednesday the day went a bit differently.  Alexandra, another La Mariposa student joined us, so five teachers in all were available to wander the streets of Santiago, stopping by homes more distant from El Rincon, picking up children who followed along until we reached one particular house with a large yard.  We asked the lady of the house if we could all sit under the trees and read together.  The dirt yard was carefully swept clear as is typical here.  Chairs were brought out from the house, and we unpacked our bag of books onto a wooden bench that became the library.  The family obviously didn’t have much, but they were welcoming and had an openness that is common in Nicaragua.  I worked with a daughter of the host family.  She was about nine years old, shy, and a very quiet reader.  As we went along, I asked to take a turn occasionally, and made sure to read in an animated voice and point out anything that might be humorous.  Soon the little girl gained confidence and read book after book, enjoying making sure I got a turn now and then — but not for long!  At the end of that visit, and indeed at the end of our week at El Rincon, it was hard to say goodbye to such sweet and smart kids.  They don’t have electronic toys to play with, but they do have family, friends, and the beautiful, abundant rainforest around them. It’s wonderful to see the smiles of the children here– a look of pure delight that is a wonder and a surprise.

As the morning was winding down, a child or two would disappear through the open doors of the school and return with several mandarins and oranges picked nearby.  We would sit in the breezy, cool classroom (muy tranquilo except for the day when a mototaxi arrived to haul off a squealing pig) and enjoy our snack and each other’s company, some kids throwing seeds and peels into the trees, discussing what game to play next or who wanted a volunteer to draw with them. Angie and I brought face paints and candy for the kids on Friday, and we had a little fiesta that ended in hugs all around.  We helped Rosa shutter the school and struggled to pull the barbed wire gate into place.  The kids walked up the lane with us until they reached their turnoffs.  “Adios!  Adios!”

Ball at the Reading Corner

 

 

 

 

 

Many former students at La Mariposa have been enchanted by experiences like ours at La Rincon, and have gifted the school with supplies, books, and personal contributions.  I’ll be leaving my trusty set of face paints for the kids, and Angie saw a need and bought pencil sharpeners, and brought sports equipment for the Ruben Dario School from home.  But the new experiences and the love we shared with everyone at Rincon de Cuentos were the best gifts of all!

Youth Delegation!!!

La Mariposa and Nicaragua Network

YOUTH DELEGATION TO NICARAGUA

January 2nd to 14th 2013

WHAT KIND OF DEVELOPMENT IS POSSIBLE?

Social projects, economic development, protection of the environment – are all three possible simultaneously?

Experience, learn and consider the issues through an exciting and powerful combination of

  • Hands on service work in a local school, on an organic farm, on an eco build construction project or helping with English
  • Visiting a range of social projects, eg the Managua rubbish dump clean up, local housing projects, youth environmental groups
  • A couple of days on the stunning volcanic island of Ometepe to learn whilst swimming, climbing a volcano or just relaxing!
  • Talking directly with young Nicaraguans to share their views on the future of the economy and the environment
  • Taking time each day to watch a film, reflect  and join in led discussions
  • Staying in an environment where every care has been taken to protect and enhance the local environment – from using solar heated water, eating meals of organic veggies grown on our community garden scheme in a dining hall built of straw to caring for rescued dogs and horses

Price $1050 (excludes air fare) Min age is 16 years

Accommodation in the Mariposa Study Centre will be in single sex dormitories. Two adults will be present at all times. No alcohol.

Situated in the pueblo of La Concepcion (in the department of Masaya), La Mariposa is a Spanish school, ecohotel, animal rescue centre and as a nonprofit we fund a wide range of community and environmental projects. Check our webpage and tripadvisor reviews.

More info paulette.goudge@googlemail.com

www.mariposaspanishschool.com    www.nicanet.org

A Mariposa in our garden

Dog Clinic day

Every so often Ruth, the senior Mariposa intern who has been with us a year now, collects up any unspayed female dogs she can find and heads off to Granada to a vetinary clinic. She comes home dirty, somewhat smelly and grinning from ear to ear!! This is her account….

PS One of the future dreams of the Mariposa is to accomodate brigades of vets in our new study centre so if anyone reading this has any ideas, please get in touch!!!

RUTH’S ACCOUNT….

Every now and then La Mariposa goes to Granada with our pickup truck filled with female dogs.  There’s a clinic in Granada that operates on dogs for free to help people to have less puppies when they can’t take care of them. They have had two special Mariposa days where we could take up to 15 dogs per time to get them operated. First we got a few dogs operated that live at the Mariposa, the farm, the project or dogs from the workers.

Last time we went twice with dogs from the different barrios close by. We went into the barrio and talked to the people about the clinic, explained them that we would pick up the dogs in the morning and bring them back in the evening. A lot of people were really interested and we were able to take up a lot of dogs to get their operation. It’s a long day, starting at 6 am getting the dogs from all around and loading them in the truck. Some go in the kennel and others sit in the back of the car with us. Some are small, some are big, some are friendly, others are just really scared.

The drive on the back of the truck is very pleasant and with beautiful views. Upon arrival in Granada we drop the dogs off at the clinic and leaving them for the day. From then on is just waiting around, enjoying a coffee or two at one of the coffee shops and chatting with one of the vendors in the park. This lady knows what we do there and is always happy to have a small chat. She offers us a seat and talks about her life and her daily activities. It’s very nice and good for the Spanish.

At the end of the day, this varies at what time; we get a call from the vet that all the dogs are ready to go home….

This time all the dogs are a bit more sleepy and some of them easier to put back in the pickup. All the way back again and then it’s time to reunite owners with the dogs. This is the nicest part…seeing the owners waiting for their dogs and really happy to see their dogs back at their homes. The day ends with sitting on the back of an empty truck, enjoying the views and seeing the sunset.
A cold  bucket shower is more than welcome and our home stays and a plate of warm gallo pinto awaits when we’re all clean and done for the day…….It was enjoyable, worthwhile and I hope we can do it again soon.

La Mariposa Group Study Centre

Our new group study centre is really coming along fast. The eating and meeting area which is built out of straw bales is absolutely amazing. There will several arch shaped windows overlooking great views to the north and a huge Panama tree to the south. The windows will have ledges for sitting and gazing! Work is also well under way on the dormitory but we have now started, with the help of two architects from the University of Maine the building where Spanish classes and other classes on Nicaraguan history, culture, politics will take place. The centre will of course also host groups who want to do volunteer work on our community projects.

Below is a photo of one of the south facing windows and another view of the inside of the eating area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Mariposa study centre for groups

This will be a great place to take Spanish classes, study the history of Nicaragua or undertake voluntary work in one of the nearby Mariposa supported projects.

Great photo of the new dormitory building going up on the new land. It will provide accommodation for up to 16 and there  ill also be local homestays available. It is built out of volcanic rock and cane (both super sustainable materials and available locally). You can just see the eating and dining area in the background, built from straw bale with a thatched roof. I shall be sorry when we have to plaster over the walls and lose the wonderful smell of hay we have right now!!

Mariposa Study Centre

This weekend saw the beginings of the construction on the new land. The idea is to create a centre for groups to come and study, both Nicaraguans and students from abroad. We can offer courses (for foreign university students, high school kids, church groups) not only in Spanish but also history, developement issues, environmental issues and others. Some we can teach ourselves (my doctorate for example is in development studies) but we also have many Nicaraguan contacts who can offer exciting courses. This all started with the University of Maine who sent  a group of students down last year and are doing so again this year. We designed a custon made curriculum together with their professors – a mixture of Spanish, volunteer work on one of our projects, with classes on, amongst other things, history and eco-tourism. Each student is, furthermore, undertaking their own individual project – everything from eco-architecture (which of course fits well with helping us with this new build) to how Nicaragua is viewed by North Americans. A lot of really stimulating stuff!

The building then will have a dormitory area for groups of up to 16 and we will also be able to offer homestays with families in the local barrio. The classrooms will be built alongside the part of the land with spectacular views over Lake Managua, the Volcan Masaya and as far as Lake Cocibolca. So if anyone gets bored in class there is something to gaze at! There will also be a number of chilling out areas and places to do the Spanish homework!

The photo below is of me and Ismael, his brother Marcos (who is heading up the whole building team) drawing the plan of the dormitory building which will be of volcanic rock and a locally grown cane.

The first part of the construction to go up is the eating and meeting area. This will have  a lovely palm thatched roof and a specialised team from just outside Leon started work on Saturday and will finish the work on Tuesday!!! The wooden posts are eucalyptus which is good to use because as a tree it grows super fast and is also bad for surrounding vegetation as it sucks up a lot of water. The walls will be straw bale, work starts on that today.