Santa Ana, Costa Rica
For over fifteen years, Conversa has offered a Spanish program for active adults during the months of February and March. This doesn't mean that if you're an active adult or retiree, that you can only participate during this time (nor does it mean that if you're not 55 years young you can't come in February/March). However, during February and March, we put together a number of activities that are not normally offered as part of the program. For more information on this, take a look at our Spanish Program for Retirees.
For several years we have offered a Spanish program for retirees (and soon-to-be retirees). Participants study in our Intensive or Super-Intensive Spanish Program and participate in a number of cultural, educational, and recreational activities. Some of these activities take place on our campus while others involve short junkets to different area attractions. You can join us for anywhere between one and eight weeks.
You can stay on our beautiful campus at one of three lodges, or in the town of Santa Ana with a Costa Rican host family. If you stay on campus, we provide a shuttle service to take you to the town of Santa Ana and back. If you stay with a host family, we have a shuttle that brings you out to campus every morning and goes back down in the afternoon (about 10 minutes each way). In both cases, all meals are provided.
If you wish to travel on the weekends, we help you discover the best activity for you, help you decide on where to stay, how to get there, and even find you some good discounts while we’re at it!
Enrollment suggestion: We recommend that you try to make arrangements as early as possible, especially if you're considering lodging on campus, as the space is limited.
In addition to the regularly scheduled activities (Spanish classes, breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon workshops), we offer the following activities (see below). Keep in mind that we may vary the activity and/or the day that an activity is held as needed.
|Week||Monday||Tuesday||Wednesday||Thursday||Friday||Sat / Sun|
|1||Spanish class Santa Ana walking tour||Spanish class
|Spanish class Grammar Lecture Dance class||Spanish class Field Trip: Coffee Tour OR Old Sugar Mill||Spanish class Afternoon Open||OPEN
Lecture on Costa Rica: General overview
|Spanish class Grammar Lecture Dance class
Dinner @ Conversa
|Spanish class Field Trip: National Museum||Spanish class Afternoon Open||OPEN
|3||Spanish class Afternoon Open||Spanish class
|Spanish class Grammar Lecture
|Spanish class Field Trip: Museum of Art||Spanish class Afternoon Open||OPEN
|4||Spanish class Afternoon Open||Spanish class
|Spanish class Grammar Lecture
|Spanish class Field Trip: Coffee Tour OR Old Sugar Mill||Spanish class Farewell lunch @ La Casona: Marimba!||OPEN
If you have questions, or if you'd like to chat with us about the Retiree Program, please feel free to give us a call at 1-888-669-1664. We'll be happy to hear from you.
A couple of nice articles about retirees learning Spanish at Conversa - written by former Conversa students... Enjoy!
By Frank MacMurray
Gray panthers, you may have retired from work. But would you like to retire from winter as well? You could throw your snow shovel away and stuff your parka and mittens back in the closet. You have nothing to lose but your chains. Why not hunt for your shorts and bathing suit and go where they never heard of antifreeze?
What's that you say? You're not made out of mondy? The Nassau Hilton or the Acapulco Marriott may be alright for millionaires, but a month there at poolside would put a bad dent in the budget"
Here's a solution. Go back in time to the carefree but modest life of a student! Mornings you could study Spanish with a tutor. Afternoons you could admire the orange flowers of the poro or the yellow blossoms of the corteza amarilla trees and catch the songs of the birds on their branches. Or you could try out your newly acquired tongue with bargaining at the local market over guavas and guanabanas and a basket to put them in.
Every February for the last five years, I have left the Washington DC area in what Miami headlines like to call "winter's icy grip". I go back to college, so to speak, in Costa Rica on the campus of a school run by former Peace Corps language teachers. There I explain in halting Spanish what I did yesterday to Martha, a soft-spoken professor of around fifty. She gently corrects my errors and uses blackboard explanations to improve my tenses and genders. The class hours fly by, especially with a midmorning break for coffee and fresh pineapple and comparing notes with colleagues.
After lunch, I may do my homework at the pool, punctuating now and then by sidestroking a few lazy laps or by taking time to gaze out over the sweep of the Central Valley to the volcanoes that sleep in the far distance. Or I may decide to hop a free ride to the little village of Santa Ana, ten minutes away. Often, however, for the exercise, I will hike with classmates up over the forested hill behind the administration building and down a country land that leads to Santa Ana from above. Once there, we buy ballpoints or notebooks, check e-mail at the Internet Café, and exchange greetings with fellow students who board with families in the town. We end up with successful efforts at communicating in thirsty Spanish with the proprietors of Coco's Bar.
All too soon it is time to go back to the campus for supper at the Casona, the dormitory with individual rooms and a dining hall, where anywhere from two to ten students live at a time. There, at evening and morning meals, a sobremesa (bull session) continues, as lively as anything at college. There are gray panthers like myself who return each year, greet each other like a band of brothers and sisters and gossip and dance together at the Rancho de Macho. There are university students on semesters abroad, high schoolers on Rotarian scholarships, social workers, doctors and nurses, and those who aspire to sell computers, cheese, plastic dories, or pipelines to Hispanic America. They come from different ages and careers and for various motives. The conversation is refreshingly unexpected. A wisp of a Canadian girl entertains us with the story of her animal census job consisting of wriggling into wolves' dens, hoping against hope that nobody's home. An adventurous Kentuckian describes his weekend in Cuba, where he lost his passport and his wallet, but successfully begged on the street for cash to bribe his way out, only to end up in a jail in Panama for entering without a passport.
And there are local weekend happenings to relate. Four classmates hire a van and drive to make the three hour trip to Manuel Antonio National Park, stopping halfway at a bridge to observe a family of crocodiles luxuriating in their river home. Once arrived at the seaside jungle the travelers swim and then picnic at a white sandy beach under the shade of eucalyptus trees. A half dozen iguanas approach tentatively, in hopes of a handout of breadcrumbs. Later, lying on their backs for a siesta, the companions are treated to the sight of a troupe of white-faced Capuchin monkeys swinging from branch to branch overhead, one mother soaring into space with a baby on her back, and another leaping with a fearful young one tucked under her arm.
The bird enthusiasts take their binoculars to the misty cloud forest of Monteverde. They glimpse wild turkey, toucans, mot mots, and scores of hummingbirds. And they even catch views of a pair of those legendary birds, the elusive quetzals, their blue and red finery shining high among the topmost leaves of wild avocado trees. They succumb to the lure of a nocturnal tour with a biologist, to encounter creatures of the night…owls, bats, and perhaps a kinkajou. Far down a forest path they find the flashlights beginning to fail, one by one, and they wonder what will happen when the last one blinks out and leaves them in midnight blackness a mile from the nearest gleam of night. It is a blessing that the batteries in the final torch are particularly long-lived and last until they stumble out of the jungle.
Another group spends a morning guided by a native into the green mansions of the rain forest to see the occasional shaft of sunlight reflecting off the bright blue wings of a morpho butterfly and hear howler monkeys roaring in distant groves of cacaos. In the afternoon, they cruise the Sarapiqui River in a motorboat and spot iguanas sunning themselves on tree branches and a lazy sloth hanging upside down, seemingly fast asleep and oblivious to the music of the oropendolas.
Once we have shared the events of the weekend at Monday breakfast, we are off to our classrooms, fifty yards away, to repeat the process. But this time we must speak "en español" to our ever vigilantly correcting professors.
You will return from your month in the sun with more than your sunburn. You will have grown to know with fondness some of your teachers as well as other citizens of your temporarily adopted country. You will have feasted on fresh pineapples, papayas and mangoes. You will have admired the brilliance of newly encountered butterflies, blossoms and birds. And when you arrive back home, you will have the pleasure of enlarging your acquaintance of the Spanish speakers who play an ever more prominent role in your community.
Those are quite some accomplishments to gain in return for the price of an airline ticket and eighty dollars a day per person for tuition, food and lodging.
And there is one more benefit. You will have outwitted the worst of the winter, and spring will be near.
By Jonsey Jones
As I sit in the rocking chair in front of the house perched on the mountainside, I have a feeling of relaxation and renewal. The gentle breezes sway the palm trees and the fruit trees which frame the vista of the valley. As I look a short distance beyond the basketball court to the swimming pool, I consider how inviting the pool will seem in the afternoon. Suddenly the bell rings, and I realize that it is time for Spanish class to start once again in this unique setting of Conversa, a Spanish school just outside the city of San José in Costa Rica.
Conversa was started in 1975 by David Kaufman, an American with extensive experience in the Peace Corps. He and Anita, his lovely wife from the Dominican Republic, had a vision which resulted in a program which can match the needs of almost anyone who wants to learn Spanish. A student has the flexibility of starting a week of study at almost any time during the year and can stay from one week to several months. Home stays are arranged for the student, or if the student prefers, it is possible to stay in a private room with a private bathroom on the campus of this picturesque school. Classes are taught by native speakers who have the ability to provide instruction from the most basic to the most advanced levels. Instructors are always perceptive to the needs of each student, and they make every effort to maximize the experience of studying Spanish. The atmosphere promotes camaraderie. Currently, the group of students includes a high school senior as well as two people over the age of seventy and many students at ages in between. On one of my previous visits there was a mother and daughter and the baby of the daughter. The mother and daughter attended classes , and the host family cared for the baby during the day.
This visit is my fourth to Conversa. Prior to my first visit, my Spanish was very basic. I had studied in Granada, Spain, where I had a very nice experience. However, my first visit to Conversa made me feel that I would want to return again and again to Conversa. My current visit is to have one last experience of interacting with Spanish speakers prior to my becoming a volunteer Spanish interpreter next month.
I encourage anyone who has a desire to study Spanish to take advantage of what Conversa has to offer. The web site is www.conversa.com.