Blog of Habla Ya Spanish Schools & Immersion Programs

Current Special Offers & Contests!
- Book a 5 Week Spanish Immersion Program (or longer) during June, July or August, and receive a FREE WEEKLY TOUR... MORE INFO HERE!

We've been writing about all things Panama for over 10 years. So search our blog to plan your vacation. From must do's, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss. You'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish while on vacation!


Week 1 of My Spanish Learning Vacation in Panama

Posted by |


Bob Van Beers, from the Netherlands, is currently finishing his second week at Habla Ya Bocas del Toro. These are his impressions about his first week of studying Spanish in Bocas del Toro.

Off to Panama!

Posted by Bob van Beers on Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Monday

My existing Spanish skills could be summarized as “absolute minimal”, so it was no surprise to confirm on Monday morning that I was placed in the A1 beginner class. I signed up for 2 weeks of Spanish class in Bocas del Toro, followed by a week in Boquete and Panama City respectively.

One thing I really enjoy about Habla Ya Spanish Schools is the low number of students per class. In my case just 2 other students, one from Germany and one from France.

Habla ya Español! Spending the next 4 weeks working and studying Spanish at one of the leading Spanish schools in Central America

Posted by Bob van Beers on Monday, March 7, 2016

We started our first day of the course with basic sentences about how to introduce yourself, and inform your conversation partner about your profession, hobbies and favorite meal. Our teacher Rogelio was very patient, and the fact that he speaks both Spanish and English made is easy to teach us the basics.

In the afternoon my roommate and I explored the town of Bocas and bought some fresh seafood and produce to cook dinner that night. Local fishermen sell their daily catch at very affordable prices at various places in town, and several vendors sell fresh fruit and vegetables, so for only a few dollars we were able to prepare a healthy meal for the two of us.

Tuesday

During our morning class we went over the sentences we learned the day before, and studied some new vocabulary that would be the foundation for the following days. The fact that all students in the group had very basic knowledge of the Spanish language resulted in numerous hilarious situations as we tried to master a new language.

Habla Ya runs an awesome activity program with daily activities for students. Activities are generally affordably priced, and provide students with an opportunity to practise their Spanish skills in an out-of-classroom environment, while learning more about the beautiful country and its people.

On Tuesday our after school activity was a guided tour to the village of Rio Oeste Arriba. In this village of 700, located on the mainland of Panama, the Ngobe community grows organic cacao and turns this into delicious chocolate. The Oreba Foundation does not only allow local farmers to receive a fair price for their cacao, but also generates extra revenue for the community by providing the plantation and cacao production tours.

Nestled in the jungle of Panama, Rio Oeste Arriba is a small village of 700 people where the locals make delicious chocolateGreat tour with the students of Habla Ya Spanish Schools

Posted by Bob van Beers on Saturday, March 12, 2016

Upon arrival at the plantation we were provided with a local lunch of rice and chicken, and a brief orientation of what the afternoon would be like. During our tour the guide explained the different steps required to successfully harvest cacao beans, and how local women turn these beans into delicious chocolate after that. As we walked through the community, our guide educated the six students that joined the tour about the different plants and trees, life in the community and how the entire community benefits from the revenue and employment the Oreba organisation generates for its members.

Students of our Bocas del Toro location recently visited a local cacao farm and were taught how to make chocolate by members of the indigenous Ngobe community.

Posted by Habla Ya Spanish Schools on Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wednesday

During our morning class Rogelio taught us how to say all different colors in Spanish, the names of almost objects we could find in the classroom, various opposites to describe items and useful sentences related to transportation and restaurants.

In the afternoon I joined two German Habla Ya students for a relaxing afternoon at Playa Estrella. Playa Estrella (aka Starfish Beach), as the name suggests, is famous for the large cushion starfish that can be found here. Playa Estrella is located on the northwest side of Isla Colon, and can be reached via a 30 minute bus ride, followed by a short walk along some smaller beaches. We met up with some other travellers on the trail and together we spent the afternoon swimming, talking and drinking on the beach. One of the food stalls also rents out a small number of kayaks at Playa Estrella but we opted to just relax this afternoon and leave the kayaking for another day.

Every Wednesday night, students, backpackers and other party minded people traditionally gather at Aqua Lounge for one of the best parties on the island. We met up with several Habla Ya students and took the one dollar water taxi ride to Isla Carenero. Besides all the standard bar features Aqua Lounge offers a swing, sling and dive tower for all your drunk tricks. You have to check out this place while you are in Bocas!

Thursday

On Thursday my roommate and I joined a Blues Cruise aboard the Jade Dragon after class. Dragon tours, a local company, offers a variety of sunset and full-day catamaran tours. We boarded the boat just after 1 pm with several other travellers, students and locals.

Yesterday will go into the books as one of the best parties of my life! Awesome 8 hour boat party with a live band!

Posted by Bob van Beers on Friday, March 11, 2016

Throughout the day we stopped at various locations to swim, snorkel, and play on the waterslide. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks were available all day, as well as delicious chicken wings and burgers for lunch. In the afternoon we stopped for a few hours at Playa Estrella, where we were given free time to explore the beach and direct surroundings, or the option to stay on the boat as the band continued to play. My friend Arthur and I grabbed some snorkeling gear and snorkeled around the boat to look at the cushion sea stars that can be found here. Several other people boarded the boat before we left the beach behind, and with an almost full boat we headed back to Bocas town. The crew surprised us with an extra stop to swim one more time in the crystal clear waters and around 9 PM we arrived back in town.

After the Sundowner cruise to Starfish beach

Posted by Dragon Tours S.A. on Sunday, March 13, 2016

Friday

Directly after class I met up with my friend Bettina for some lunch at Tom's, a local restaurant. The restaurant is only a short walk from the school, and serves typical Panamanian meals for $4-6. We chose the Bocas style Creole chicken, which came with rice, beans, plantain and a glass of lemonade for just 4 bucks. Bocas del Toro features several other very affordable restaurants for a great lunch or dinner if you don't feel like preparing your own meals.

While we were having lunch the sky fortunately cleared up and we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon at Boca del Drago in the northwest of Isla Colon. The bus ride from the town of Bocas del Toro to Bocas del Drago takes about 30 minutes and costs $2.50 for the one way trip.

We sat down on the beach, swam in the ocean and drank some of the beers we brought along. Bocas del Drago is a lot less busy than the nearby Playa Estrella, and fortunately lacks the many food stalls and loud music you find on the latter.

The search for the world's most beautiful beaches continues!

Posted by Bob van Beers on Sunday, March 13, 2016

After a relaxing afternoon on the beach and in the water we walked back to the bus stop and took the bus back to Bocas. Please be aware that the last bus from Bocas del Drago leaves at 6 PM daily, and you don’t want to miss that one because it’s a long walk home!

Saturday

My Saturday was rather uneventful and consisted of sleeping in and running some errands around town, so I won’t bother you with any more details!

Sunday

On Sunday the school organized a full day tour to Isla Zapatillas and Dolphin Bay. We left the dock in Bocas at 10 am with a group of 17 students from Canada, the US, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia.

Isla Zapatillas in northwest Panama

Posted by Bob van Beers on Wednesday, March 16, 2016

After our guide and captain navigated through a labyrinth of mangroves we anchored the boat near a beautiful patch reef and snorkeled for 45 minutes.

After everyone got back into the boat we stopped at a nearby resort for some refreshments and continued to an uninhabited island. Here we were giving a few hours of free time to explore the island and enjoy the crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches.

Today's school activity included snorkeling, exploring a nearby island, and opening fresh coconuts on the beach! Enjoying the Habla Ya Spanish experience so far!

Posted by Bob van Beers on Monday, March 14, 2016

The island was scattered with palm trees and coconuts, and after some trial and error we found a way to open the coconuts without the use of any tools. We spent the rest of our time on the island sipping fresh coconut water and eating coconut meat.

Things to do on an uninhabited #island in #BocasdelToro?Experience an impromptu coconut cracking competition!#VisitPanama #Zapatillas #HablaYaStudents #HablaYa #LanguageTravel

Posted by Habla Ya Spanish Schools on Wednesday, March 16, 2016

When our guide told us it was time to leave we quickly packed our bags and got back onto the boat. Not much later we witnessed several dolphins swimming around the boat and jumping out of the water. Our captain shut off the engine and we all watched the water anxiously, waiting for the dolphins to come up again. After about 30 minutes and several dolphin sightings later our captain started the engine again and took us back to Bocas after an awesome day on and near the water!

After my first week in Panama, I wonder what other adventures lie ahead of me. Will it get even better than this? I can't imagine so but something tells me it'll just get even more amazing so I'm doing my best and not thinking too much about the day I'll have to leave. Until then, I'll keep learning Spanish and making the most out of my Panama vacation...

I missed my 10-year high school reunion in the Netherlands two months ago, but last night I ran into two former classmates on a tiny island in Panama! #makesomenoiseforboxtel

Posted by Bob van Beers on Thursday, March 17, 2016

FIND MORE ABOUT SPANISH LEARNING VACATIONS IN PANAMA... »

Comments






BE THE FIRST to get news about Contests & Discounts!



We've been writing about all things Panama for over 10 years. So search our blog to plan your vacation. From must do's, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss. You'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish while on vacation!


You can follow any responses to this entry through the. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.