Did you know that San Juan del Sur Day School is located on a cloud farm? Finca las Nubes, as it’s aptly named in Spanish, is located a mere two kilometers from the beach and the heart of town. Yet, just this short distance from the hustle and bustle of our small fishing village allows for expansive views of the Pacific, Volcanoes Maderas and Concepción, Lake Nicaragua and beyond. The peacefulness that comes with living “in the clouds” also makes the school campus and surrounding homes a welcoming abode for much of the local fauna. Thanks to their sustainable building practices and reforestation efforts, Finca las Nubes has protected habitats for a multitude of animals, creating a strong co-existence between humans and nature.
Our students are fortunate to witness the habitats of both wild and domesticated animals throughout the farm. Accompanied by their classroom teachers, children follow the sounds of howler monkeys, while also keeping their eyes peeled for the sloth family all the while being escorted along the path by over one hundred species of birds. Students at San Juan del Sur Day School have had the fortune to witness the birth of a baby calf, collect eggs from the farm’s chicken coop, and learn about various animal habitats simply by stepping outside their classroom doors. Here are some of our favorite sightings (all photos were taken at Finca las Nubes by parents, staff):
The Howler Monkey is a favorite and common sighting at Finca las Nubes, particularly during the morning bus ride up the hill. It is not uncommon for a rendition of “The Wheels on the Bus” to be interrupted by exclamations of “monkey, monkey, I see monkeys!” If lucky, you might even spot a white faced or spider monkey, too.
Particularly fascinating to students and teachers alike are the Sloths, who while seemingly unhurried (in Spanish, they are called “perezosos,” which translates to “lazy” in English), they manage to appear in different trees at each sighting.
An armadillo made a surprise appearance at school last October. Of the twenty varieties of armadillos, all but one live in Latin America. Armadillo is a Spanish word meaning “little armored one” and refers to the bony plates that cover the back, head, legs, and tail of most of these creatures. Armadillos are the only living mammals that wear such shells.
Kinkajous, native to Central and South America, have found a comfortable home in the tree canopy of Finca las Nubes. They can be hard to spot, as they are nocturnal and prefer to roam at night.
Contributing to the symphony of sounds at Finca las Nubes are the plethora of birds – glance up into the trees and you can spot blue jays, yellow-bellied kiskadees, Nicaragua’s national bird – the turquoise-browed motmot (known here as the guardabarranco), parrots, toucans, hummingbirds, wood peckers, oropendulas, and many, many more!
You’ve got to be quick and highly observant to catch a glimpse of iguanas and lizards, as they are swift moving and blend easily. You’ll have more luck spotting the geckos, which are predictably found near lit lights, patiently awaiting their next meal of bugs.
Living amongst and respecting the local fauna that long pre-dates San Juan del Sur Day School provides wonderful lessons for our students. They learn to respect animal boundaries and habitats. Children learn that animals have their own unique place and purpose in the world. A child’s self-esteem can thrive outdoors because nature doesn’t judge people. To observe nature requires patience and quiet watchfulness, a trait that can help children to thrive into adulthood. And learning about animals in their natural setting exposes students to things that are alive and growing and promotes curiosity and exploration.
“Respect is the most important part of all, respect for people, respect for nature and a healthy respect for the rights of future generations.” -Finca las Nubes website