January 13, 2012

Mucho Escuela

Today was my last day of classes at the Guacamaya Spanish School in Copan, Honduras. It may seem silly to say but I had forgotten that school is supposed to be a challenge. I have not taken a language class since ninth grade, taught by a woman who spoke english as her fourth language and smelled of garlic. Suffice to say I didn´t get much out of it. Getting my brain back in gear definitely took a while and the week was quite humbling. At Guacamaya, I had one-on-one instruction with my teacher (maestro en español) Sara. At all of 19 years old, she was infinitely patient with me as we struggled through irregular verbs and gerunds. Back in High Prairie, grammer was never exactly my strong point- I picked up sentance structure mainly through context because I read so much but his week I think I made up for all that I missed in English and more. Twenty hours of immersion instruction later, I think I have achieved the communication level of a 3 or 4 year old. This is a definite improvement on my previous ability (of a 2 year old). At the beginning of my trip, I would simply throw out nouns haphazardly along with hand motions in the hope that the poor clerk or driver would eventually understand what I wanted. Now I feel I can actually construct a proper sentance, though I can only speak in the present tense so far, and I still have no idea why “usted” (the former form of “you”) is in the third person. I can also understand a lot more of what others are saying even if I can’t respond in kind. The tricky part of the immersion aspect was that I had no Spanish and my instructor had no English so there was lots of diagrams and arm waving when I didn`t pick up on something right away, and it was quite difficult to get beyond superficial layer of understanding. I would know that you had to accent a letter, but not why. All things considered, though, it was definitely worth the $230, especially the homestay. My host mother’s name is Carla and she runs a small comida (cafe) in town. She was very helpful and patient as I struggled through haulting sentances, though her mother was a little less so. She talked so fast I could rarely pick up more than a couple words out of a sentance and then she would get annoyed when I didn´t understand. I think that little old ladies are the same all over the world. I am pretty sure I met her Polish counterpart when I landed in the Warsaw airport in 2007. Tonight I am going out to the pub with a few of the students here and then tomorrow I am off to the Bay Islands off the north coast to perhaps take my Advanced diving course. Depending on price, I may just do some fun dives instead, though. The island of Utila is known for whale sharks, and the coral is supposed to be quite pristine. And just so you don´t worry a whale shark has emphasis on the whale part and not the shark part, so I will most likely emerge from the ocean with all my limbs intact unless I get stuck under a boat propeller. Hasta Luego Amigos!

-A.

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About Amy D. Nelson

Wanderer, hack writer, aspirational hobo, part time aerial surveyor, geologist, forester and whatever else I can do to pay for a plane ticket. Is that sentence fragmental enough?

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