Friday, May 8, 2009
The longer we spent in Spanish class the more I realized that setting aside just a week for lessons was a bit unrealistic. I was able to motor through the lessons but in a week we managed to get to just the past preterite. And Adrian, well, he was still speaking English to his instructor. In fact, Kat and Misha the Estonian and Dutch couple, had both approached me about the fact that Adrian was only speaking English in his class. They were concerned that he had a bad teacher. I had to explain that Adrian was very English. While he had been learning the three regular verb endings (ar, er, ir), he was still trying to get a basic vocabulary. There was no way he would have been able to understand a lesson in Spanish. But it did make me get on his case a little a bit about trying harder to speak Spanish.
With trying to cram so much over the last 2 days, Adrian and I had a lot of homework which didn’t leave much time for any more sightseeing. Luckily, Xela didn’t have a lot of sights to see. Instead, it was hanging around the school and chatting with the other people staying there. And trying to avoid the owner of the school. Of course this was impossible on our last day when we had to have a pot luck meal with the owner, staff and our Spanish teachers. Our contribution to the potluck a typical Canadian cuisine Domino’s pizza (it cost about the same as it would in Canada which made me wonder how the places stay open when wages are so low). The staff had made us tamales and jocon, another chicken curry type of dish.
The awkwardness continued when Adrian decided to steer the conversation to weird things like gross horror movies and why you can’t eat with your left hand in India because it’s used for the toilet. Charming dinner conversation. Good thing the staff understood very little English – although Christian translated some. Thankfully, we were asked about our next stop and future travel plans. The owner gave us some good recommendations about continuing to study Spanish. Ecuador is supposed to be a good place so maybe we’ll do some more there. After all, Adrian still can’t order his own food.
Afterwards I talked to Karina for a bit. She told me how hard it was to find a job in Guatemala and how she was hoping to go somewhere else. She’s trying to learn English, which is about as good(bad?) as my Spanish. I told her she was a good teacher. She told me I was a good student. Yay. She also told me she could make me fluent in 8 weeks. Tempting but we have to keep traveling unfortunately. We exchanged facebook info and said goodbye.
There were a lot of goodbyes over the last 24 hours. It seemed like everyone at the school was clearing out and heading to Lake Atitlan. Kat and Misha were going to climb a volcano overlooking the lake. Jeff was heading to San Pedro where he’d meet up with Kat and Misha. It was tempting to join them but we were only going to Lake Atitlan to get us closer to Honduras. And there was a 4am shuttle minibus but it was leaving from Panajachel about 2 hours away from San Pedro. So we decided to go our separate ways – but that doesn’t mean we won’t bump into each other elsewhere.
Then it was back to researching a place to stay in Panajachel. Our out dated guidebook was proving useless. The only place I could find now charged $40/night. A little luxury would be nice but that was just too much money. Kat and Misha lent me their guidebook which was only a year old and jotted down the cheaper options in Panajachel. I also lined up a room for our first stop in Copan – if we were going to be on a shuttle for 8 hours I didn’t want to be searching for a room in the dark.
So was the week of Spanish worth it. Definitely, but two weeks would have been better. Adrian was just getting some vocabulary down and I was just beginning to get comfortable with my speaking skills. Xela is a good town for studying because there’s not much there to distract from homework and stuff. But it can also be a bit boring. As for the school, our accommodations were rustic but for the rock bottom price they were sufficient. Our teachers were great. But there was a bit of disorganization. For example, I really liked the outings but it would have been good to know what they were before hand and how much things would cost. Now it was time to put my Spanish skills to use in the real world.