Sunday, September 27, 2009

Back at School

What is it about September? Back-to-school time seems to have been permanently imprinted on my mind. So it was that we found ourselves back in school, back in Antigua. PHOTO SCHOOLROOM

Yes, I know, according to the blog we haven't been to Antigua yet! But soon...
In fact we came up for a few days in August to scout around. Antigua is a place every tourist is expected to go, and a goodly number seem to fall in love with the city. We liked it fine, but it's a city of walls, and you're left wondering what's going on behind them. Also, you wonder where exactly you are, since, despite their personalities, few walls sport street signs. Coming to school here was a good way to explore a little further.

So, you might wonder, if we had trouble finding our way around a city laid out in a grid with prominent volcanoes to the south and west and a distinctly different hill to the north, why would we further overload our mental capacities by attending language school?

Mainly, so it's so we don't travel in a bubble. I can get by in Spanish in a very rough and inelegant manner, but the Guatemalans are too polite to correct me even when I ask them to. Doug wants to understand Spanish better too. Quite an language school industry has grown up around the clear and neutral Guatemalan accent in all the tourist destinations, but especially in Antigua. Despite the various learning aids on the boat we just weren't progressing well on our own.

We picked a school with large and meticulously landscaped gardens behind its gate, and really nice accommodations, San Jose El Viejo. The tranquility of our little 'resort', the two-minute commute, the fountains, the pool, ...I could really get used to this kind of upgrade to my life!PHOTO VIEW FROM OUR CASITAview out our window

Doug's teacher had the patience of Job, he announced, and, 'she can write upside down!' Mine had been dealing with people like me for at least half her life, and knew that her job was as much to break bad habits as to cement in some new stuff.

It was humbling to realize just how many bad habits I have. Neither of us expected miracles, especially in 32.5 hours of study in a week. The aging memory thing ...Well, I don't think my memory is that bad. It's just that I have to learn new packing techniques. So that's what I did all week. That, and try to slow myself down for quality production rather than quantity plus hand-waving. I might even be having a little glimmer of understanding of how my grandfather came to be the slow and (overly) precise man he was when he was about the age I am now.
Did I actually master the past and present tenses? How much of my new vocabulary will make a second appearance? Time will tell. I sure did enjoy my little vacation, though.
If anyone reading this is looking for a recommendation, I would recommend everything about this school.

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