The Habla Ya Language School (Los Establos Plaza, tel. 720-1294, cell 6480-4506, www.hablayapanama.com, 8 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Sat.) offers a flexible menu of Spanish courses that includes an ultra-compressed “Spanish for travelers” package (10–20 hours over 2–5 days), beginner crash courses, and longer-term, total-immersion packages that can include homestays with local families.
Prices are per hour, starting at US$105.95 (group class) or US$150 (private lessons) for 10 hours. Special offers are sometimes available. Free extras at the school include a café with wireless Internet, Wednesday-night Spanish-language movies, conversation sessions, and Saturday afternoon salsa and merengue lessons. The school also arranges lodging, field trips, and outdoor adventures.
Spanish by the River (tel. 720-3456, cell 6759-5753, spanishbytheriverboquete [at] gmail [dot] com, www.spanishatlocations.com) is actually by a road, not the river. Specifically, it’s in Alto Boquete just off the main road, on the turnoff that leads to Palmira.
However, it’s a pleasant spot, and it’s a quick bus ride or $0.50 shared cab ride to downtown. Instruction is given in open-air “classrooms” in the school’s spacious and surprisingly quiet backyard.
Prices depend on course length, size of group, and hours per day of instruction. For instance, a five-day group course, with two hours a day of instruction, is US$80 per person. A five-day, six-hour-a-day intensive private course would cost US$430. There are price breaks for longer courses and small groups who enroll together.
Students can spend part of their course at the school’s sister facilities, Spanish by the Sea in Bocas del Toro and in Turrialba, Costa Rica. The school can also arrange tours, horseback riding trips, and volunteer work.
The staff can arrange home stays, and there are also four small, spotless rooms with good beds at the school itself. These go for US$17 s, US$25 d. Priority is given to students, but anyone can stay here when there’s no demand. Most people don’t realize this, so it’s possible to find a room here even when more expensive and less appealing accommodations are full in downtown Boquete.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition