Tuesday, 16 September 2014

0098 Yo Hablo Espanol - Un poco !!

Well, today (Wed 10th) Janet and I went back to school !  And I think we survived !  We were up before 6 am, and after showering and breakfast headed off to school with our backpacks and pencils like good little bunnies so we could be there by the appointed time of 8 am.  We had one-on-one tuition and Janet’s teacher is called Delmy, while mine is 27 yr old Daniel, a Mayan originally from a village up in the mountains.  Our classroom was under the trees in the delightful little garden of the escuela, and in the morning sunshine we got to work.

Having not done this kind of thing (work !) for a while, I found the whole process fascinating, with Daniel asking me questions in Spanish about myself and my life, apparently in order to determine how to proceed for the rest of the week.  Obviously I didn’t do too well as we soon seemed to be just declining verbs – Something I HATED in my youth, whether it was Latin, French, or even English !!  (I always preferred to be out on the rugby pitch kicking a ball !!)  “Yo amo, Tu amas, Ella ama, Nosotros amamos……”   Bloody amo, amas, amat, of Latin classes all over again, 55 years later !  And that was the last time I had to have one on one tuition as well – Latin O level, and one-on-one means you have NOWHERE to hide – You have to pay attention ALL the time, and answer EVERY question. Hmmmmm………

Anyway, cut a long story short, by mediodia (mid day) when we finished, and after I had wiped the perspiration (from non stop concentration) from my weary brow, I actually realised I had not only learned something, but really enjoyed it !  I am still finding that French words seem to be on the tip of my tongue instead of Spanish ones, especially when the words are similar, but I think the Spanish words and pronunciations are starting to come more readily.  I just need more words in my mental armoury ! My homework tonight is to learn some of the verbs we declined today, so I will be working on that later. 

Janet apparently had a more “informal” lesson with Delmy , and after we had finished we went to a local restaurant for lunch (a whole $10 in total for both of us, including beer and coffee !) in order to discuss our lessons, and it seems that, unlike Daniel, Delmy speaks very little English, and also seems to pronounce words differently, so at the moment we seem to be learning two different languages !!  Anyway, we both enjoyed it, both learned a lot of basics, and are looking forward to part 2 manana !!  

Yesterday we met Willie, a German travelling south in similar fashion to us in a Mercedes motorhome, so we are going out for dinner with him tonight.  Willi also knows Peter and Christa, the German couple I spent some time with in Mexico in Del Carmen a few weeks ago – Small world.  Looking forward to sharing our stories over a cerveza tonight !

Sabedo 13th Sept.   3 more days have passed and we now have just one more Spanish lesson to go tomorrow.  We have survived the week, but are finding that our brains are just not absorbing new information as fast as they used to. Our teachers have been patient (as have we when declining verbs !!), and we have so many words and verbs and phrases written in our school books – If only we could get them to stick in our minds as well !  We have also realised that one week is as long as we need or can stand at this stage – We now need time on the road, using what words we have already and trying to get them into our brain so they are ready for use when we are talking instead of having to refer to the book every 5 seconds !  Maybe by the time we get to Costa Rica or similar we will be ready to do another week, but right now we just need to consolidate what we already have.  But it has been lots of fun doing it and I feel a lot more confident for the next few months ahead.

Our school finishes at noon, and we have found a little restaurant that does really good food for a very reasonable price, and while we have had a couple of surprises, it has generally been excellent.  And a pleasant way to unwind after 4 hours of intense school work before going back to the van for a siesta during the regular afternoon rain showers. 

On Wednesday we met with Willie our German friend for dinner in Pana and had a very pleasant meal of grilled fish and a couple of cervezas, before moving up the street to a little “German” café for a coffee before heading back to the van.  Like many others, he has been on the road for more than a year already, and is now only half way through his trip – He travels more slowly than us ! He also has a motorbike on the back of his van, so he can go exploring once his van is parked.   Last night (Friday) we went to Willie’s van for drinks, and although his van is only about 1 km from us as the crow flies around the Lake, to walk we had to go up the steep road out of town and then down the steep driveway into his hotel / camp site, so it was more like 3 kms for us !  And we seemed to keep talking and drinking wine and then schnapps (?) for a long time, until it was time to try to get home in the pitch dark (forgot my torch !!). Well, we wobbled home over the hill, trying to avoid both the ditch and pot holes as best we could, and the next thing we knew it was time to go to school again – Today has been a difficult day, to put it mildly !!

We have decided we will leave Pana this Wednesday morning and have one night in Antigua before heading south through San Salvador.  We are reading books about the next area and there is not a lot we really want to spend time seeing.  The apparently excellent beaches along the pacific coast of Central America do not really hold an attraction for us, and the “old” buildings of Salvador and Honduras and San Salvador are not that old due to many major earthquakes and other “upheavals” over the years, so we have decided to head on south, enjoying the magnificent countryside, until we get to Costa Rica.  After that we will head to Panama and get down to Columbia and South America, which is the part of this trip we are really looking forward to, and where we would like to spend our time. 

So I post this now just so you all know we are OK and having fun.  This weekend, and Monday in particular, is Guatemala’s national day, so a big fiesta is planned in town over this weekend, with lots of bombas going off all the time (big fireworks), and bands and markets, so it promises to be a fun last weekend for us in Panajachel.  And we will be able to celebrate the end of our week of Spanish School !!  Olé  !
No photos due to camera problems !!  Sorry. 


  1. Good to hear from you and to know you are fast becoming bilingual and having a lot of fun in the process. You learnt another important lesson Giles. Remember your torch........................

  2. Bilingual ? Ha ha - That will be the day !!

  3. Hi you 2
    Have been reading your blog - how fantastic and descriptive - I feel as though I am there as well.
    I was intrigued to see how you were doing at language school mis amigos. We are going to start "one on one" in a couple of months time.
    Sounds like the real adventure is about to begin which we will follow with great interest.
    Hasta la vista mis amigos.
    Peter & Astrid