Tag Archives: learning spanish

Practicing My Spanish…

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Practicing my Spanish….

I’ve been finding all sorts of new opportunities to practice speaking spanish. Unfortunately I haven’t had any time to get together with my two Panamanian girlfriends to practice since moving to Jaramillo Centro. Living right next to our casita project makes it much easier for me to help Scott in many different ways so I’ve been busier than ever now. No longer do I only make lunch and take care of banking and bookkeeping. Nope..now many mornings I drive into town to pick up our workers and I also started to help transport materials up to our work site. So, what does this have to do with my Spanish practice? Well, you see….this means I’m in a car with spanish speakers! And they’re trapped with me! Whahahahah! Soooooo I muddle through trying to chit chat in spanish with them. Hah! When I’m driving the truck up and down our hill Edgar rides with me and we talk about his family in Bocas del Toro, or about his hobbies or my hobbies, about California, about music and all sorts of different things. I know my grammar is hideous and I sound like a two year old, but I really love to keep practicing. Then in the mornings and the evenings our other two workers are trapped in the car with me, so I try my best to chat with them, now, they are much more like my husband….not big chatters!! Pffffffft! I don’t let that stop me…noooo! I ask them millions of questions and I try hard to think up something…anything to talk about on our ride down the hill, boy do they jump out of my car quickly when I get to town! Now that Kat & Al have left us in charge of their house I’m managing her two gardeners and her cleaning lady…all of whom I am torturing with my bad Spanish! I love it! Read the rest of this entry

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Poco a Poco, Still….

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I haven’t written about my spanish progress for awhile. There’s a good reason for that…It’s slooooow going! I’m trying, EVERYDAY, I’m trying! And I gotta tell ya…its a bit discouraging at times, not devastatingly discouraging, just a bit frustrating . Don’t worry too much, that sounded rather discouraged, not to worry, I promise, I’m farrrr from beating myself up too much. I have moments of wonderment when I actually get something out that is understood and I realize I have actually communicated to someone in SPANISH! Whoohoo! My heart soars when that happens, and I think its beginning to happen more and more, it’s true! Read the rest of this entry

It’s So Much More Than ‘Teaching’…

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What I love about making friends in Spanish…

As you know , I’ve sorta ‘fallen into’ teaching English to four Panamanian women. I’m very uncomfortable thinking of myself as a ‘teacher’, and my so called ‘classes’ are taking on more of a ‘social gathering’ than any sort of structured ‘class’. This is exactly what I enjoy…Social Gathering! I mean, that’s what my hairstyling business often felt like as well. I think anyone who walked into that salon felt as though they were getting together with friends and not only coming to an appointment. Isn’t that the way life should feel? As though we were gathering to connect and not just robotically going through life? I didn’t have this awkward feeling I have now when I’m supposedly ‘teaching’, a feeling of being an imposter , cuz’ I was right at home behind the chair making people feel good. As these wonderful women and I are becoming more comfortable with each other and they have gotten to see that they too are ‘teachers’,( because they help me so much in my Spanish learning) it’s beginning to feel so much more like friends getting together to chat and to laugh and have a good time. I’m much more comfortable with this ‘give and take’ type of learning. They are just as much teaching me as I am supposedly teaching them, which I just love. But what I love the most is the laughing fits that we often get into during our little gatherings. Read the rest of this entry

Buen Fin De Semana…

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Hoy es muy buen día. Me levanté a la seis en la mañana entonces preparo desayuno para Scott. Después comemos desayuno, Scott fue al trabajo. Luego me llevó a la ciudad para ir a Romero’s y Mailboxes Etc. Regresar mi casa entonces me fui a mi escuela para la práctica de conversación.

Today is a good day. I got up at six in the morning then made breakfast for Scott. After we ate breakfast Scott went to work. Then I went into town to Romero’s and Mailboxes Etc. I went back to the house and then I went to my school for conversation practice. (just in case you didn’t ‘get’ what I said! Hah! (Now you kinda, know how I feel a lot of the time! 🙂 ) I’m really beginning to feel a little improvement in how much I actually understand. But my ability to respond is not very good yet. Poco a poco! I must say, today at conversation practice the instructor was my former professora, Widad, and I felt much better attempting to speak with her than I felt when we had class together. My vocabulary needs a lot of work and just speaking in general is not even what I would call proficient, not even close! But my ability to hear and understand at least most of the words being spoken is getting so much better. It feels incredibly good to be able to get most of what’s being said to me. Even when I’m in town , out and about, I’m really beginning to get most of what’s being said to me. I think one of the most important things I can do while I’m learning is just to expose myself to Spanish as much as possible. And I’m finding that I’m becoming less and less nervous or embarrassed by my inability to speak fluently yet. I notice a huge amount of pleasure from nearly every Panamanian I come into contact with when I attempt to communicate in their language and don’t expect them to speak English. Even when a person speaks English I almost always try to speak Spanish and they’re pleased to help me. Of course I apologize for my Malo Espaniol and explain that Yo aprendo español y ahora es malo pero en la futura me hablo español muco mejor! Es muy importante para me practico mucho! When I try my best I always , without fail, get a kind response and lots of gentle help from anyone I am speaking to. Ahora, es no importante hay perfecto solo para tratar. 🙂 I know…It’s not great! But I’m getting there, and I’m not gonna be fluent for a long long time , but for only having studied Spanish for about ten months, I’m feelin’ great! Muy Feliz!!

My regular meetings with the four Panamanians that I see each week is just great for me. I know I’m supposed to be helping them learn English but I must say, I feel like I’m the one getting the help! And my Zumba class is great too because most of the other people who go to that gym are Panamanians and even the instructor speaks only Spanish! So I mostly have no idea what the heck he’s saying, what with the booming music and the wild lights and my poor, slow brain trying to get my body to do something remotely close to what everyone else is doing (Rhonda, I think of you a lot when I’m trying to get my hips to do those Salsay moves! hah!) . But I know that one of these days I’ll begin to catch on and my ears will begin to hear familiar words. Geesh! Who knows, maybe my hips will loosen up one of these days too!! Hah! All in all, I’m feeling very successful and very pleased with my progress so far….my “Language” learning progress that is….the “Hips” moving like a latina woman…..hmmmmm, that’s gonna take a miracle! :0

And Here’s What We’ve Been Up To…

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I’ve been working on getting a bank account established here. This has been my next big project. As I’ve told you before, they make you jump through hoops to open an account. I wonder how hard they make it in the states to open an account if you aren’t a citizen? Hmmm? So I went into Scotiabank (on the advice of both our attorney and our realtor) to give Ana all the documents she requested, Two years tax returns, copies of passports and U.S. drivers license, copy of utility bill for the house we rent, copy of rental agreement, a letter of recommendation from my bank in the states just stated that we have been customers in good standing for at least two years, a letter from my attorney here in Boquete vouching for our intention to settle here in Panama, and a copy of the deed to the land we purchased…whew! I also had to fill out an application that included three panamanian references, which was pretty funny because the bank manager who I was dealing with, Ana, happened to know personally all the people who we know. Funny, it’s a small town. This was helpful because she knew how to spell their names and what their addresses were, ha! And she saw where we currently live and it turns out she’s my neighbor as well! The final thing the bank needed was to contact the bank manager in California to confirm her letter of recommendation. So I email Susan at my bank in Los Altos to give her a heads-up that she would be receiving a correspondence from Panama, hoping to make it go as smooth as possible. Good thing I did that because they contacted her via email immediately yesterday and she forwarded me her response. Looks like we should be good to go, I hope! I’ll go down to the bank on Monday and see if there’s any other information they need, but I feel pretty organized. Read the rest of this entry

Mr. Talkative, who is that man?

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20130825-130457.jpgThis is a post that only those who know Scott well, will find as much humor in as I do. All who know him are well aware that he is a man of few words. Scott has never been accused of being a “chatty” guy. Nooooo on the contrary, Scott is rather quiet. Am I right? I can hear all the collective nods of agreement. Yes, Scott is not shy or even especially reserved, no , he is simply just more of an observer and will easily contribute to a conversation but is not one to waste a lot of time chatting. It’s not his way…..Until now!

I don’t know this man who has begun to chat with anyone who will listen!! HUH? The other day after class as I was returning to the area where Scott and I usually meet up and as I was walking towards him I saw him just chatting away with a fellow student, deeply involved in a conversation , in spanish mind you! I had to smile. This is beginning to be a common occurrence, this new “chatty” behavior that my quiet husband has recently begun to engage in of late. I know, it’s hard to imagine, but I kid you not…..I’m finding more and more that I have been much more the one lately who is observing rather than participating in these “chat-sessions”. I can hardly get a word in edgewise! But not for want of something to say, noooo I always have something to say! But he is so intent to learn Spanish that he , probably for the first time in his life, has a really good reason to chat!! It’s so funny, and soooo great! He really tries hard to practice speaking every chance he gets. And He’s doing a great job. But I have to tease him because when he’s talking he’s concentrating so hard on recalling what he has so recently learned that he’s using his hands (as though he were an Italian) to describe much of what he’s saying. As he talks he is sort of looking off to the side and searching through his mind for the correct verb or conjugation or what have you, to express correctly , what he wants to say. The Animated conversations that I’m witnessing are inspiring! 🙂

For those of you who have ever learned a language , you know first-hand, the only way to actually learn it and retain what you learn is to use it. Scott is doing just that and he’s really determined. In classic Scott style, he will master Spanish in no time because when he’s determined to learn something it is a sure thing that he will learn it and learn it well. That’s just the way he rolls! This adventure is surely providing many new learning experiences for both of us. And I am also very determined to learn the language , but my process will be much slower and don’t’ you worry, I’m finding my own ways of practicing to speak. I’ve made some new Panamanian girlfriends who I’m getting together with every Monday for a few hours to chat with! They want to practice English and I get to Practice Spanish too, it’s just great! But I just thought you would all enjoy hearing about this new guy who I just can’t shut up!! 🙂 Who ever thought Scott would morph into Mr. Chatty??? Well, he has!! And I just love it!!

Smiling…

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20130814-115837.jpgToday as I walked out of my Spanish lesson I was smiling. I had a great lesson with Araliz. Some day’s I walk out not smiling but instead looking rather stoic. Not sad, not mad, but feeling kinda dumb. And on those not so good days, when I just don’t have a smile after my lesson I remember that tomorrow may be better. The thing I thought about today, as I walked to my car, was that I felt grateful for those un-smiling-feeling-kinda-dumb days. I wont call them “bad” because without them I would not have the very clear perspective when I have a smiling-feeling-kinda-smart day! On those days when I walk away feeling dumb and a little defeated I try to remember that tomorrow I just might be smart again!!! (laughing!) Ahhh, it’s a challenging process and aren’t I the lucky one to have chosen to embrace the opportunity to very consciously and deliberately dive in “head-first” into all these new experiences. I know from lot’s of past experiences that the most difficult and challenging life experience have always been the best opportunities for growth, spiritually,mentally,intellectually,as well as physically . I’ve read a quote that I just love..

“Our biggest regrets are not for the things we have done but for the things we haven’t done”
― Chad Michael Murray

Yes, I see the wisdom in that quote and I feel that way myself. Just because an experience is a challenge, I don’t think to myself that I should not have done something but that I’m doing something which , although difficult, is worthy of the hard work it takes to persevere and learn and grow from the hard work. I am where I should be in my life and even with all the difficulties and challenges I face in my new and often disorienting new life I have no regrets only joy in being in this very spot at this very moment….

A good day of espaniol practicar…

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Some day´s I feel like crap about my progress in spanish aprendar, and then suddently I have a bueno dia and I feel mucho mejor. Hoy is a bueno mejor dia! If there’s one thing I’m learning, it is, that learning a new language is a process. A process that is vastly different for each and every person. It just so happens I’m one of those especially slow learners but most of my friends here tell me that they struggle just the same, that , of course, is a comforting bit of information for me. Because misery loves company, right? Well, okay, they would not all call it misery exactly but to me it is , many days, a misery indeed. I often wonder how my teacher can continue to show me such unending patience, but she never wavers as I repeatedly ask the same preguntas over and over and over again.

Today mi tarea was to walk around to many of the tiendas in town and ask them the same questions, “A que hora abren?” y “A que hora cierran?” y “Cierran al mediodia?” What time do you open , what time to you close, and do you close for lunch? Sounds easy , right? Yep! And I usually , in normal circumstances love talking to people more than almost anything! But , for some crazy, reason the first store I wandered in to by myself, (because I was alone, Scott was in his classes so it was solo yo) as I began to ask my questions I could feel myself fighting hard to hold back the tears from welling up in my eyes!! Geesh!! What has happened to me!! She who loves to meet new people and chat with anyone who will listen! It’s so amazing to me how such a seemingly simple question can cause me so much distress. But, the truth is, it did today. After my third attempt, and Almacen La Reina (the local clothing store on the Main Street) I began to feel less weepy and a bit more calm. The lady who I spoke with was soooooo kind and patient and soooo very happy to help me. I even managed to explain,” Yo necesito practicar hablo espaniol”!!! yep! Not perfect but she got the idea and I slowly began to feel a bit mejor!

After my tienda wandering episode I decided I would take a stroll down to the biblioteca. I had not visited the library and today was a great day to do it. It’s such a pretty place , quiet and organized and not crowded, although this is a place I would not mind seeing crowded . I just love to read and it’s great to have a nice quiet place to relax with a book. I quickly located the children’s section and located Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. It was both Spanish & English and I found a comfy chair and settled in with my book. After successfully making it through the book in spanish I walked over to the little refreshment area and managed to ask, in espaniol if ,”Puedo comprar Agua por favor?” She, of course understood me and I bought a bottle of water. Ahhh, sweet success!! And no tears! Progress people!!

After spending a couple of hours studying at the library It was time to take a nice walk ,( a little over a mile!) to my friend Valarie’s house. We had gotten together on Sunday for lunch and I mentioned that I really needed to get more practice speaking spanish!! It turns out that she’s been tutoring her Panamanian neighbors in English and she invited me over because it’s a very informal gathering and I would get to also speak and hear spanish. What a great time I had with she and her neighbor! And , I made a new friend too! I’m just thrilled to have been included in this gathering , and hope to continue spending time with these charming and friendly women. And ,in case you were wandering, no tears!! As my day progressed I really began to feel much better about mi practicar en espaniol!! I have a long way to go, and I’m pathetically slow, but I’m learning and making progress everyday! And what’s even better, I’m making new friends while I learn, my favorita cosa!! Yo estoy muy Feliz!!!! Hoy es a bueno dia!!

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Hair Time In Panama!

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Yesterday, (Tuesday) was Hair day ! Lyn , like myself, was a stylist in another lifetime. My grey roots were yelling to be covered up! I kid you not! I could hear them “screaming”! So She very kindly agreed to apply my color for me and stop those pesky grey hairs from all that screaming. I, in return offered to give her a little trim while my color was processing. This was a brilliant idea all around. She is a very busy realtor so I was grateful that she was willing to do this although I would never assume that this will be a forever solution to my annoying grey hair. No, I’ll keep my ears open and who knows , I just may have to branch out sometime and give a local Panamanian stylist a shot. I’m pretty sure I’ll still be able to bring my own color with me, they’re pretty relaxed here. Lyn had another Amiga who stopped by for a little color application while we were at it. It was good fun to sit around and chat and get to know another local expat who has made a great life here in Boquete.

What an enormous change for me from the life I was living in Los Altos. A change that I am soaking up with a grateful heart. (a little side-note to my Los Altos peeps, please don’t be offended, I had many many very happy years and not one regret, I’m just so glad for a change 🙂 ) This life and the people I’m surrounded by are a breath of fresh air. It’s all so very “relaxed” and casual and mostly I think ,so far , it’s just ‘easy’. I’m certain I still have much to learn about this new town but so far I’m pleased with the people I’m connecting with and getting to know. One of my biggest concerns about moving away from everything and everyone I know was making new friends and I’m pleased to report that I had no need to worry. There are a ton of terrific people to spend time with and I’m already wishing I had more free time to hang out with them. Our spanish classes are pretty all consuming at the moment. But that’s just temporary ,I’m sure when we finish with our classes more free time will allow for some other activities where we can meet even more people.

Scott and I were just commenting this morning about how many great people we’ve met through our classes at Habla Ya. Even though most of them are here in Boquete for a short time I have a feeling some will come back to visit us and even have a place to stay (WITH US!) . It’s great to see how many people come here and do “Home stays” through Habla Ya. Most of the people in Scotts class are staying with local Panamanian families and having such a great, authentic experience. Our friend Jordan who we met a couple weeks ago really developed a great relationship with his house mom, I think he was a bit sad to leave and I’m certain he has a new lifelong friend. I thought he was such a thoughtful young man because as a thank you gift he gave her a gift certificate to have a massage at a local spa! Awww! What a sweetie! We have met people from the states as well as Canada, Holland,Germany,The Bahama’s, and most of these people are traveling around for at least a month most of which they are staying here in Boquete. I just love talking to these young backpackers who are having such amazing adventures !

Our Spanish classes are coming along pretty good, although dont expect me to be able to actually speak quite yet! The Private, One on One lessons are exactly what I needed and I’m so glad that they were so accommodating and worked around me and what I needed. My teacher, Araliz is just so intuitive about how to work with me and I am very impressed with her ability to sense how to best teach a student who learns as slowly as I do. I have not really felt frustrated or defeated at all! Each day I walk away feeling like I made a tiny bit more progress and I think I can even say that I am enjoying the process now!! Can you sense the smile on my face? One little thing Scott and I have both been discussing is that we need some actual ‘real life’ practice. He is much more assertive with his practice when we are out shopping and running errands . I usually rarely even try to chime in much . So I am brainstorming different ways for me to give myself opportunity to practice speaking with locals. I am considering some sort of volunteer work with children. I know there are orphanages where I can volunteer and work with the children or maybe at one of the local schools. I need to start asking around and trying to get myself connected with people in the know. I just hope my lack of anything even close to fluent spanish wont be too hard to get me out there, helping somehow.

Scott is talking with the School today about trying to switch his lessons over to private as well. He feels like he needs a bit more personal tutoring now instead of the group lessons he’s so far been doing. The groups move forward pretty rapidly and so a bit of private time will be a good balance for him. Plus this schedule we have is a real bummer for us. I go to class from 8-10 and he goes from 1-5 , which totally ruins our days if we need to get anything else done. Like I said before, the people at Habla ya are very flexible and accommodating so I’m sure they will figure out something that will work for him. And I’m not sure how he plans to get some practice in but I’m sure he’ll manage somehow. He really enjoys shopping in the fruit and Vegetable market and has already settled on his favorite venders in there. There is a little old lady who runs the booth in the very front and one day he told me he asked her if a particular pepper she had was spicy and she took his hand and led him to a different booth and showed him exactly what to buy! He will shop from her from now on. And then another guy who we buy avocados from always asks when we are going to eat it and finds the best one, not too ripe or ripe enough for Hoy! He has earned Scotts loyalty as well. One lady just sold him a couple of very unripe avocados even though he explained that he would eat them hoy, she is on the banned list. So he gets his practice in talking with the venders at the market and I think if they would hire him he would get a huge kick out of working there with them, that’s not gonna happen!

I’ll keep you posted on our continuing quest to learn spanish and hopefully our opportunities to connect with more locals. I continue to awaken each new day with a smile on my face and I am constantly looking around this beautiful mountain village and basking in the fact that with many years of research and lot’s of hard work, we made this happen, this is our home!! I have to pinch myself right now , I’m really not dreaming, am I? OUCH! Nope!! Life is good! Cheers!

Another First Day Of School…

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Today was my first day in my private class with a new teacher. Her name is Araliz and she is very nice, it’s great to get to know another native Panamanian. I really enjoy the very beginning part of the class where we ask each other questions in spanish and get to know about each others lives. She grew up here in Boquete but lives in David. She has a really big family most of which still live here in Boquete. Her grandparents live in Jamarillo, which is the area we are very interested in finding property to buy. I think this one on one class will work much better for me. And the two hours is far better for me than the four hours I was struggling through before. I was really hoping to have Yubal as my instructor but It didnt work out. I will really miss being in his class, he was so much fun to laugh with and he was very patient with me. Who knows, I still have eight more weeks that I’m signed up for so maybe he will be able to take some of my classes down the road.

Although his brain is thoroughly fried by the end of the school day, Scott seems to really enjoy his class. He has six students in his class with him and even though he says he often feels behind, he enjoys the challenge and is learning really well. (of course!) Each night we spend a good amount of time studying and doing homework . Now that our schedules are so different I may be able to spend more time writing and reading. I go to class from 8:00am to 10:00, Scott is still going 1:00 to 5:00. So we shall see how our new routine rolls out. Today Scott got up and drove me into town and stayed in the study room at the school to work on some studying. After I got out of my class we went home and made breakfast then I worked on my homework . When Scott left for school I decided it was time to tackle some housework, this place was becoming a disaster area!! So I stripped the bed and took all the linens down to the laundry room, picked up some clean ones and voila! laundry done! Well, at least the linens! I still have a full basket of our laundry to tackle tomorrow. I used my sparkly new broom to sweep up all the cat hair, and there is a ton of cat hair! Our little kitchen table was drowning in paper and all sorts of junk so I unburied it and spent some time organizing our life. Ahhh, that felt so good!!

Constantly evolving and adapting is the name of the game! And we are most definitely open to all of the above. Which is a good thing given the fact that we haven’t much of a choice! LOL! Who knows what tomorrow will bring? All I know for certain is I’m looking forward to facing each new day with my mind wide open and a smile on my face. Well, mostly, a smile on my face, once in awhile I might have a bit of a grimace, I’ll admit it. All those verbs and all that conjugating admittedly get’s to me at times!! But, Hey, I take a deep breath and keep on goin’! Shrug! What the heck! It’s called and Adventure, right? Whoot! Whoot! Cheers!

Whew! Time is flying by and there’s much too much to tell, Here it goes…

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I haven’t had a second since Thursday to sit down and write . All the fun began on Friday at Spanish school. As usual, the first half of the day consisted of me struggling through class and trying my best to make my head comprehend something. We always have about a twenty minute break at about 2:45ish then we resume our lessons until 5:00. Here is where you begin to get more of an understanding of just why I have fallen in love with my teacher…Yubal, he had the brilliant idea to commence our studies at the bar down the street! He arranged for another class to join us so we could practice our Spanish. And practice we did, with the aide of Margarita’s suddenly Spanish lessons were beginning to become a bit more fun. We sat together and began to converse in español. Mi nombre es, Holly, yo de los estados unidos. Vivo en Boquete. Estoy jubilado. Yo vivido en Boquete por un mes. Blah! Blah! Blah! The last two hours of school flew by incredibly fast and when Scott found me at the bar having a margarita aided lesson, boy was he envious! (Big smile here!) But far be it for my man Scott to hold a grudge, especially when cerveza is close at hand! LOL!! He quickly joined in on the fun and began to take advantage of the opportunity to chat as much as possible with his burned out brain ! We ended up staying at the bar until about 8:00 then everyone decided it was time to go Dancing!!

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Just Thinkin’…

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This is Yubal, our very patient teacher at Habla Ya!!

It’s 10:15 at night and Scott is fast asleep. Our week days are flying by so fast! Spanish class is really quite all-consuming. We usually get up by 6:30 or 7:00 then we have our coffee while we slowly wake up. Crack open the Spanish workbooks and casually begin to do a bit of studying. Then we have our breakfast and continue studying until its time to get showered and dressed for the day. We leave the house by 12:15-12:30. Class begins at 1:00 and before I know it , it;s 5:00 and we are like two Zombies as we walk out of our classes! I’m amazed how tired one can get from attempting to make an old, lazy brain do things it’s not accustomed to doing.(like memorizing verbs and conjugating?)

I’m very impressed with the Restauranteur who very wisely and strategically opened “Big Daddy’s” right next door to Habla Ya,(the spanish school). Not only are they right next door to the school but they serve the absolute best Margarita’s in town!! And May I add, at precisely 5:00pm every day, that comes in very handy!! Mind you. the proprietor of said,”Big Daddy’s” , has suggested to us, after hearing our moaning and groaning about the difficulty of learning Spanish, that we may want to try having one or two of his famous Margarita’s “Before” class!! HMMMMM! I’m not sure this is prudent advise! But, who knows, I will ponder it. I’m pretty sure the Post-school Margarita is about all I can take and Yubal, my teacher would surly frown on this student snoozing in his classroom. No, I’m afraid Big Daddy’s will continue to be our “after school hang out”.

Today after class we invited Jordan, Molly and Angelica to join us at Big Daddy’s. It was nice to hang out with our fellow spanish students and to get to know them a little better. Molly is a very sweet 29 year old collage student who works as a server at a restaurant in California and is here studying Spanish for her degree. She is staying in a youth Hostel down the street from the school and plans to study here in Boquete for two weeks then move to the Bocas del torro campus for one additional week. She would humbly disagree but I think she is the most advanced student in our class. Today when we were quizzed on numbers she got almost all of them right after only studying them while walking around this morning. She told us today that she is very excited because her sister is coming here to visit with her. She is learning about all the fun outdoorsy activities there are to do here so she will be able to show her big sis around and enjoy some adventures together.

Now , yesterday I told you a little about Angelica. She is the 17 year old who is here on her own for 5 weeks. Well, I gotta tell ya, after getting to know her a bit more today, she scares me!! She is rather…. clueless, (I say this in a loving way, not mean at all.) Learning spanish is coming easy for her because she has no inhibitions and is rather fearless. But we all know that in life having a bit of healthy fear can help us to stay safe? She is staying with a very nice Panamanian family way up in the mountains, not close to town. Today she had a bit of trouble getting to school because she got lost, caught a taxi,dropped her school books and the books got run over by a car then they were soaking wet so after getting in the taxi she sat the books next to a vent so they would dry and proceeded to leave them on the bus when she got off. And the hand drawn map with directions to her house where she is staying was with her school books!! Oh boy! That’s not all, her bank card isn’t working, she has no money and her cell phone died! So, she lost her school books, has no phone or money and doesn’t know how to get back to where she is staying, as if that weren’t scary enough, she was not one bit worried about any of this!!!! Nope! She was giggly and relaxed and as 6:00 was fast approaching (It gets dark here at that hour) this mom(me!) was trying so hard to just let it be. She seemed to think all was well and I could tell that she’s the kind of person who would have no problem asking for assistance if she felt she needed it so I kept my mouth shut. Oh boy!! Everyone has their own journey and she will be fine, I just have a tendency to worry about a young girl on her own in a strange country. I’m really hoping she got back to her host family and that she is ok. I’m sure she is.

Now, Jordan is a very fun, happy , adventurous, independent guy. He loves to laugh and is making the class so fun for me. Today we were paired up to create a conversation with all the phrases we learned for when your eating at a restaurant. So we had to write down what we would say , he was the server and I was the customer. We had a good time, at one point I ordered The special of the day( Cual es el especial del dia?) which he said was pollo y Papa’s Frita”s. then he brought be a salad and I told him that’s not what I ordered( Esto no es lo que pedi) and he proceeded to tell me that I had drank too much vino tinto!! How rude!! LOL! Yes, it’s good to have fun while attempting to learn! Jordan is in law enforcement and works with the state department on contract. He gets sent to different countries to train their law enforcement people there. He just finished 3 years in the Middle East and is taking a break right now before his next contract which is in Haiti. What an adventurous spirit. He too is doing a Home stay with a Panamanian family close to the school. When I asked him what language they speak in Haiti, he said,”French!, and I’m studying Spanish!, I may not have thought that one through!” Ha!Ha! Yes, I’m having a great time getting to know some very very amazing people. And I haven’t even begun to describe my teacher, Yubal! I’ll have to get to that in another post, it’s nearly 11:00 now!

I knew that for me, the most rewarding aspect of this new beginning would be getting to know so many new people. And here I am, enjoying getting to know such a variety of kind, open-minded, adventurous, friendly people!! Ahhhhh! Learning Spanish may be a huge challenge but making connections with new people is making it worth every minute. And in the end, after I get a grasp on the language I will be able to connect with more of the local panamanians I come into contact with in my day to day life. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…. The hardest , most challenging things I’ve done in my life have always, without exception, ended up being the most valuable!! Each day of this Adventure is beautiful in more ways than I could have imagined it to be.! Cheers!

Aey!! Who’s idea was it to learn Spanish???

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Our first week of Spanish school and I’m exhausted!! Holy Moly!! It’s gonna be a longggg ten weeks! I really like our teacher, Jubal, he’s extremely patient with this slowww gringo. The amount of repetition my old,slow brain requires is hard to believe. He must think I belong on the special bus. Heck, I am wondering myself why it takes me so long to learn, especially compared to my sweet (insert eye roll here) Scott! It seems as though he needs only to hear it one time and it’s forever embedded in his brain! Geesh! I’m just kidding,(mostly) but Scott really does learn relatively fast and seemingly effortlessly. Ok….I’m probably being a touch dramatic but that guy is some kind of genius! GEEEESH!

I’ve never been a good student, academia is not where I feel at home. I’ve got a feeling, I’m my own worst enemy . My self talk is debilitating and at times causes my brain to completely shut down. I went into this Spanish class fully aware of this self-sabotaging habit of mine, it’s nothing new. In spite of this life-long habit I’m determined not to let this weakness overcome my determination to learn Spanish. I had a similar experience when I went to my very first sculpture workshop. I stood there in front of my lump of clay and my mind went blank. I looked around at the other sculptures in the room and saw that they began to work in their clay without a bit of hesitation. I had to force myself not to compare myself to them. In order to allow myself to open my mind and attempt to do something I was not at first comfortable doing, I had to just let go of my inhibitions and dive in . I wasn’t an instant success at creating a beautiful likeness to the pose the model was holding. Heck, I may never have the natural talent that most of my sculpture friends have, but I did a pretty darn good job for a beginner. Although, mostly, I really enjoyed seeing my lump of clay miraculously turn into something kinda pretty! In that instance, I persevered and I triumphed over my negative self-talk that was saying,” I can’t do this!”

It’s only the first week but I can see that I have indeed committed myself to a challenge, that damn negative self-talk is at it again. Yesterday, at the end of the day Scott and I discussed how we felt the first week went for us. For me the class is moving much too fast. For him, the pace was not a problem. (No surprise) So something needs to change for me. We have one other student in our class with us , Jordan, who agreed with me about the pace being too fast. So after discussing this with our teacher and going to the office to discuss it we decided that Scott will do next week in a private ,one on one class while me and Jordan spend next week reviewing everything we went through this week. This idea seems to be agreeable to everyone. We will see where it goes from there. It just may be that Scott and I will not be in the same class, which is what I always expected.

I must say that, as usual, learning with Scott is an absolute pleasure. I like to joke around about how weirdly smart the guy is but to be quite honest he selflessly helps me study and patiently explains things to me over and over and over again until it “mostly’ sinks into my stubborn head. He never, ever, not even once, makes me feel stupid or gets even the least bit frustrated with me. As we walk into town he will quiz me on numbers and each day it’s like I’m learning it all over again for the first time. He encourages me and tells me I’m improving, but I’m not so sure. See, there I go again! Seriously though, I’m committed to learning Spanish in spite of my history with my self-sabotaging ways!! Ya, it’s hard and I might find myself crying in frustration, but I’m deeply determined to continue on and to working hard . I may take two or three times as long to get it but Im confident that if I just keep moving forward and stop thinking negative thoughts, eventually I’ll get it. Whew!