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Zaida Gutierrez and David Hansen have been the directors and owners of IPED Languages Plus Spanish school in Heredia, Costa Rica since 1984. A few years after they got married in Washington DC they decided to move to Costa Rica where Zaida is from and founded IPED.  Zaida  and David met and graduated from American University in the US capitol.  Zaida graduated with a degree in Biology with an emphasis in Marine Biology and has continued her studies in the Art and Visual Communication School with emphasis in Graphic Design at La Universidad Nacional in Heredia, Costa Rica. David earned his degree in International Relations, Spanish and Latin American Studies from the School of International Studies at American University. IPED Languages Plus has been offering highly motivational Spanish classes to the educationally minded traveler. We have been teaching Spanish classes, English classes to Costa Ricans, TEFL, TOEFL, and other languages at IPED Languages Plus among other courses.  IPED is one of the oldest language schools in Costa Rica and David and Zaida have many years of experience designing and tailoring courses for universities and high schools in different fields such as Environmental Biology, Art, Sociology, Medical Spanish and Spanish for lawyers.  

IPED’s beach location in Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean side Costa Rica is also a great place to study Spanish.


How I came to open a Language School  by David Hansen

(Published in Christopher Howard's book The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica)


The year was 1978 and I had just come back from an incredible junior year abroad in Madrid, Spain. I was looking for someone who spoke Spanish and wore high-heeled shoes.  One particular morning in late September my roommate and I drove to American University and when we arrived for our 11am classes we looked at our watches and we saw that it was only 10am.  We had no idea why we were there an hour early. We just couldn’t figure it out. You never arrive an hour early for anything much less for a morning class at the university. Since we had some time to kill we decided to go to the Cafeteria for a cup of coffee.  As soon as we walked in, my roommate spotted Zaida, his Costa Rican housemate from the previous year. We got talking and as the say, the rest is history. (She did wear high heels back then!)

After coming to Costa Rica a couple of times on extended vacations in the early 80’s I really wanted to move down here.  Zaida, my wife by then, didn’t really want to go back home, been there done that. Also living in DC was very exiting back then for a couple of 23 year olds. However, the president of Costa Rica at that time threw out the IMF and the World Bank and the international credits dried up very quickly and the local economy went into a tail spin. Zaida’s dad, who was one of the most exceptional people I have ever met, was a pilot and had a small executive air service that went down along with everything else in the economy. So at that point she was ready to come down and help out her parents for a a couple of years in 1983. Well, we are still here!

I love it.  We run the IPED language school in Heredia, where we teach English to Costa Ricans and Spanish to people from all over the world.  It is the best of both worlds. I live in a great town where  I know many of the locals and spend my days with really interesting people from Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and the Caribbean. They live with lovely Costa Rican families , study Spanish go to some amazing nearby attractions like the Coffee tour, The Waterfall Gardens, Inbio Park, Zooave, The Tucan Rescue farm, or the Poas or Irazu volcanoes during the week.  In the afternoon their senses are delighted by the great dance classes and delicious cooking classes.  At night they have dinner with their families and talk and practice Spanish with them and then study a little. If they still feel like it we go out to great places around Heredia to meet the locals and go dancing or listen to music.  On the weekends they go to the wonderful beaches, volcanoes and rain forest around the country.

It is Pura Vida (Pure Life) in Costa Rica.