Esteli vs Leon for Spanish Study
Replies: 14 - Last Post: Nov 7, 2012 10:55 AM Last Post By: steve486435
Oct 4, 2012 7:42 AM
Esteli vs Leon for Spanish StudyHi, so my plan/hope is to study spanish somewhere in latin america from Nov-Feb. I'm considering Nicaragua strongly and debating between the cities of Esteli or Leon (having ruled out Granada).
Anyone had experiences in both locations? Would love to hear some thoughts. Is either location less hot? (I hate the heat). It is an option for me to do both too of course.
I'd also be open to any other locations, anywhere in Latin America really. My criteria is I need a cheap country, looking for the standard 4-hour/daily backpacker style of school. I've studied in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Guatemala in the past, I'm also considering Ecuador again cause I like the cool mountains, however Nicaragua is my current 1st choice because I've never been.
Thoughts appreciated, thanks in advance.
Oct 4, 2012 8:01 AM
1if heat is your main concern, esteli is your best option. it's in the mountains and its a lot cooler than leon. if you are looking to practice more of your spanish and get away from all the other backpackers who may tempt you into speaking english, esteli is best. check out casa luna, they have a lot of info on spanish schools and homestays if that is your thing. homestays would obviously help you with your spanish. if you are into hiking, mountains, tobacco, waterfalls, and cow boys....you've chosen wisely. check out miraflor and tisay, they are located in the mountains with lots of hiking and options for hiking. also, the majority of the accomodations are locally owned, so another plus for your spanish.
leon is one of my favorite cities in nicaragua. however it is also one of the hottest places in the country! again, if you are looking to learn spanish this may not be your place because there are lots of backpackers/hostels here and it easy to speak english while you are out of spanish class. the upside of leon is that it is a university town and old colonial city. lots of history, lots of museums, and lots of night life. so you will see culture, live music, and lots of dancing. it is a fun mix of local university students and expats either living/working in leon or backbackers passing through.
you have chosen wisely not to go to granada. granada is disneyland and home to retirees and sadly, everything is owned by expats and the whole city is in english. not really nica.
Oct 4, 2012 11:12 AM
2Thanks so much, this info is very useful. I was leaning towards Leon, but I think you've influenced me towards Esteli, at least to start things off anyway. Perhaps I'll do the first 6-8 weeks in Esteli, and then give hot Leon a try for a month once my spanish is better, and won't feel as guilty about speaking some english.
I like hiking, and prefer local accommodation. I've done homestays, but prefer my own place so will likely look for a hostel, cheap hotel in town.
Oct 4, 2012 11:29 AM
3Seperate question for anyone really - but if I understand the entry stamps and CA-4 thing, if I arrive in Nicaragua and stay for 90 days, crossing into Honduras for a few days and returning won't work right? Or will it?
I'd have to go the other direction to Costa Rica, for a few days and return? Would that get me another 90 day entry stamp? just curious. I'd rather go to Honduras but if I understand correctly, I think that doesn't count as leaving (since Honduras is part of the CA-4).
Oct 4, 2012 1:27 PM
4You may want to read pretty long threads concerning Spanish language schools in Nicaragua already posted about May 4 and June 27 on this site.
Oct 4, 2012 6:21 PM
Oct 4, 2012 8:25 PM
6to answer your question about visas.....upon arrival to nica you are given a 90 day visa. there is no need to cross over to costa rica, trust me! you will however need to visit an immigration office in managua, either the main office which is a zoo or visit the office in the shopping mall metrocentro, bottom floor. once you are at an immigration office, you will need photocopies of your passport and original visa entrance, fill out application for another 90 day renewal and pay fee, not sure exactly roughly 100 U$ but it has gone up recently.
once you have stayed a total of 180 days, that is when you will need to cross over the border to costa rica. you are correct, you cannot cross over to honduras. you must head south to costa rica or fly your way to mexico.
Oct 5, 2012 7:23 AM
Oct 5, 2012 8:21 AM
8just a heads up about working with other branches other than the managua immigration offices... i've had guesst go to corinto, a major port in nicaragua, and leave their passport with immigration there and then have them send it to managua to update their visas...they had promised to have the new visa renewed within a week and in the end they misplaced the passport. whether it was lost in the post office, in transit, or in one of the offices; managua or corinto, we never found out. in the end my guest waited for over three weeks for their passport to be recovered. so if you plan on sending yours (this has happened three times) passport with a branch that is outside of managua, be prepared for set backs and be sure that you are ready to make several inquiries about your passport and visa.
personally, i would play it safe and spend a day in managua and get it over with and have a peace of mind.
Oct 5, 2012 3:52 PM
Oct 5, 2012 5:39 PM
Oct 5, 2012 10:20 PM
11Leon is a much more interesting place to stay in my opinion.At least as a city...the area outside Esteli is nice.
But its certainly hot......Esteli is not exactly cold,but Leon is ridiculously hot!
Oct 21, 2012 8:35 AM
12I was in Nicaragua in March and I began my trip by taking 1 week of spanish lessons in Esteli. I lived in a good family, very good foods...
It was very good spanish courses (4 hours/day) and plenty of activities with a wonderful teacher.
Esteli is a modest town in a very nice area.
I recommend it because I enjoyed: Sacuanjoche Spanish School, Norma Morales.
Nov 7, 2012 7:16 AM
13I have been in Nicaragua for 2 months now, and my favorite places so far are Esteli and Matagalpa. The mountains, city and people are wonderful. I studied and lived with Norma Morales, and highly recommend her. She does a total immersion program and knows many places and people, so it is really easy to travel around, plus her helper and neighbor is absolutely wonderful! Amazing cooking and a good friend to hang out with and walk around Esteli. You can contact her at email@example.com, or visit website sacuanjochespanishschool.net. Leon and Granada are beautiful to visit but HOT. Life in Esteli and Matagalpa are much more tranquilo.
Nov 7, 2012 10:55 AM
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