Three Niñas - Corazon Maya

Three Niñas - Corazon Maya
Lupita, Magdalena and Clarita

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Help ! I am too old / too scared / not smart enough to learn Spanish

That's what I thought when Jessie, the leader of our Habitat for Humanity Group loaned me a beginner's Spanish book and CDs during a group meeting in Jan 2007. I had never studied Spanish before. But no one else wanted the book and CDs. We were heading out to Honduras for 2 weeks, so I thought, heck, what have I got to lose?

I started the Spanish course at home, and learnt some basic words, like necesitar and poder, and how to conjugate them. When we got to Honduras, I found that I could understand a little (but not much). I realized that learning a language takes work. So when we got back, I borrowed the Pimsleur Spanish CDs from the library and started listening to them while commuting to work, and while going for walks. These CDs start with the basics, and help you along. They are easy to listen to. Suddenly, learning Spanish became fun - a game.

Several months later, my wife Rita and I were discussing how to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, in December that year. We thought of Hawaii, or a cruise in the Caribbean. Then Rita said, why not spend our money in a poor country, where they really need the tourist dollars, and learn some more Spanish in the process? So we took a 3 week trip to Nicaragua, and had a wonderful time. Great people, few tourists, and what fun getting around using Pimsleur Spanish!

This blog details the next phase of my journey in Spanish - 7 schools and homestays in Guatemala  and 1 in Copan, Honduras. The trips have been fun, easy to organize, and inexpensive. I have met a lot of nice people, both foreigners and locals. For Costs, Weather, and Getting Around/ Safety, see separate chapters. (Under Revision).

Along the way, I met a number of single women ages 19 to 63, who were doing the same thing as I. They all said they felt safe traveling alone in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Some young men would whistle at them but nothing more. So I think anyone, male or female, can do this on his or her own. Perhaps one third of the students were over 50. Why not give it a go - even if only for 2 weeks? If you go in Nov/Dec, you can just show up and choose a school. There are so few students that the schools will make you feel like a VIP. I have heard that the summer months can be busy, in which case, you should consider a reservation. Contact the school directly, or book through websites such as Go for it! It may be your best experience in a long while. And it will feel good helping poor Central Americans do something at which they excel - teaching and hosting visitors.

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