It’s time to get our learning on!
We can both speak Spanish at a very basic level but, needless to say, some of our encounters over the last few months have felt more like a long game of charades than a conversation. Annie is improving faster than me thanks to some lessons before we left, but I just can’t stop slipping into French half way through my sentences!
We’ve decided enough is enough and enrolled on a week-long intensive Spanish course in Antigua and we moved into the homestay yesterday.
After sleeping in rooms with 14 people for the last few months, I can’t even begin to describe the luxury of having my own room, let alone my own bed! We’ve even got proper duvets and a wardrobe. Heaven.
The lovely Guatemalan family who are looking after us are cooking up a storm and we’ve had the chance to try all sorts of home cooked Guatemalan food. Most dishes are based on some kind of chicken stew, with rice or mashed potato, as well as tamales cooked in banana leaves. There’s also some kind of delicious tea which is served with every meal – we’ve tried to figure out what’s in it but no-one has had any luck translating it yet!
In typical Guatemalan style, the house doesn’t have a roof in the living area and there is a large puddle of water in the living room which fills up anytime someone flushes the toilet. We’re just trying not to think about why it does that..
The lessons themselves are going well and our Spanish is coming along nicely. We have four hours of private tuition each day and the teachers don’t speak a word of English, so it’s fair to say we are learning a lot, as well as tiring ourselves out after such a long period of relaxation. In the afternoons, we’ve been volunteering at a day-care centre just outside of the city centre.
This has been challenging to say the least and has really brought home to us just how lucky we are to have had the privileges and opportunities we’ve taken for granted our whole lives. When we first walked into the centre, consists of four small rooms, we were overwhelmed by 150 screaming children all throwing toys around and jumping up at us yelling things in Spanish. Bearing in mind our Spanish is not exactly brilliant, it took us a little while to extricate ourselves from this situation!
Yesterday, I spent a good few hours reading La Belle Dormieuse (Sleeping Beauty) to one child who just couldn’t get enough. There are only six teachers in the school and they are all so exhausted that they’ve mostly given up trying to discipline the children, hardly surprising with the heat and noise of the place.
We’re going back tomorrow with, hopefully, a few more disciplinary phrases up our sleeves.