Swapping expensive Costa Rica for a more affordable stay in Nicaragua
It was only in the last few weeks of our time in Asia that we actually started looking at the next phase of our travel in Central and South America. As we got more into the details of travel blogs and websites we realised that the initial plan of spending a long time in Cost Rica would be difficult for us as the cost of food, accommodation of and travel is pretty much on par with Western Europe. Too expensive for us!
Searching for ways to make or time cheaper we started looking at Nicaragua as a potentially cheaper option. In the end, we decided we would go either to Costa Rica or Nicaragua as long as we could find a self catering place to stay in close to somewhere all 4 of us could learn Spanish. We had always planned to do a Spanish course at the beginning of our 6 months in Central and South America, to help us get around more easily, to fully enjoy our time in this part of the world and to be able to talk to people beyond Hello and Thank you.
Finding a school for Ingrid and Scott
The 2 weeks of rest in Koh Chang was invaluable for us in researching Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I spent many hours trawling through blogs and FB groups to find some contacts that could help us with affordable AirBnB or other self catering place where we could settle in and lay low for a few weeks. How hard can it be to find an appropriate school that can take the kids in for month and to help them learn Spanish. VERY!!
Ingrid and Scott are too little to benefit form 1-1 classes in Spanish and just throwing them into a local school for a few weeks is simply not giving them the time to learn enough Spanish to make friends and understand anything the teachers say.
I contacted lots of bi-lingual schools (English & Spanish) in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and eventually got some leads through a closed FB group for travelling families and some closed Expat groups for people living in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I contacted one of the schools recommended and finally found a little school willing to accept both children, for 1-2 months at a cost. As luck would have it, the school was located in the heart of Granada, the first town we were planning to go to in Nicaragua.
Preparing for school in Granada
We arrived in Granada on Friday night and Ingrid and Scott would spend their first day in school on the following Tuesday. A quick visit to the school on Monday to see Miss Beth, the Head mistress and director who helped me getting the children into the school via FB and email, to get all the paper work sorted. Ingrid and Scott also got a chance to see some of the children who go there, helping them mentally prepare for the official school start the following day.
Sancuanjoche is a small but perfectly shaped school with class rooms on 2 levels around a shaded courtyard where the children have lunch and hang out during recess.
The pre-school where Scott is going is spacious and creative with 4 classrooms set up for the different ages and needs. It also has a big open room for play during break time and a little park just across the road for a run around when the weather is not too hot.
Completely bilingual school and curriculum
The school has about 80 students in classes 1-7 from the age of 6 and up and the adjacent pre-school run groups with children aged 3 to 6. Classes have a maximum of 16 students with a great mix of native English and Spanish speakers and all teachers are bilingual too.
English, Maths, Science and Social studies are taught in English and Spanish. All students have Spanish class every day and in addition, English or Spanish as a second language depending on which native language they speak. The school day runs from 8 till 3, an hour longer than school in the Uk.
In pre-school all classes are also bilingual but with more focus more on learning through play and social interaction. Here there is also Spanish class for the English speakers and vice versa every day. Scott’s school day is slightly shorter than Ingrids and finishes at 1 .
Miss Beth and her staff were super friendly and welcoming. Ingrid and Scott were both excited and nervous about starting school the following day.
First day in Nicaraguan school – one month to go
I picked up the school uniforms at the local market after visiting the school. When I saw the kids putting them on the next morning, getting excited my heart simply melt and filled with pride at their ability to take it all in a stride. Scotts nervousness made him worried and upset he wasn’t looking cool enough and Ingrid was very quiet…..Pancakes for breakfast much earlier than we’re used to and then we were ready to go.
After a 20 min walk in the warm sunshine we arrived at school. At the sight of his teacher, Lauren, who reminded him very much of Miss Lavander, his first teacher back in England, he happily went in and waved good bye.
As we approached Ingrids school round the corner she went all serious, looked at us and said, ” You are not coming in. I am not related to you!”. This was the first but definitely not the last time she was worried about her parents embarrassing her!
Im excited to find out at the end of the week what school is really like and how the kids get on. Im sure their Spanish will be better than mine and Pauls by the time we leave Nicaragua!