Tuesday, October 13, 2009

La escuela- es muy facil

There are times that i think i am actually a smart person. There are times where I am very proud of myself for the inane bits of trivia that have collected in my brain. There are times where I am condescending and patronizing to those who do not know some of the things i do. And there are certainly times where if you asked me to describe myself intelligent would probably be in the list of adjectives i use.

Then i stepped into our spanish school, COINED, on the first day.

Right off the bat we were given a brief oral exam, really just a chat, to see what we knew and what we did not know. Well long story short the gross tonage of what i do not know in spanish could stop a train dead in its tracks. The teacher, Aura, was asking us simple questions like where are you from, what do you do etc. Id like to think that given i took spanish in high school that i could at least fake my way through those questions. Instead i stumbled and bumbled through and was put into the most basic class in the school. Good news for me Andy, Lindsey and Cathy(LIndsey´s mom) would be right along side me.

Over the next few days we would be humbled by struggling through the alphabet and basic phrases like, how old are you, where do you work how many brothers do you have. Our first teacher was Diego a younger guy who really looks more like a teenager than a teacher but he does a really good job with us overall. He has a habit of bursting into laughter when we try to pronounce things or when we take a random stab at what a word might mean. He also tends to love it when we get way way too excited about learning something basic or remembering something from the day before.

Our second teacher for the day, we have two hours with each teacher give or take, was Paulina. Paulina reminds me a little of mrs. levesque for those of you who went to Memorial middle school, you know why this would make me sweat in a pavlovian response. Paulina though loves to chat and she forces us to use and attempt more spanish than we know and therefore pushes us to get better each day, to struggle, and eventually to learn. She also loves to pry into our personal lives, getting a big kick out teasing Andy and Lindsey about their relationship. She also had a blast when i misspoke and inadvertently said something which in her mind meant i was gay. She exploded into laughter throwing around limp wrists and saying all sorts of stuff in spanish which i can only assume would be horribly offensive if i were actually gay or could understand what she was saying.

The school itself and the classes are really a unique experience and id like to think im learning pretty well. Our classroom is on a roofdeck and looks out at a volcano. It really is quite the experience and Im not sure ill ever be able to just accept it for normal.

Three days a week the school sets up activities for us out and about in Antigua. Antonio is the guide on these activities and shows us different attractions. On our first excursion we went to jade museum, which was really one room museum many rooms jade store. It was a nice subtle sales pitch but im not really in the market for jade, not sure its my style. Afterwards though we waited for Lindsey to take the perfect picture of a fontain, she is quite the photographer and very meticulous about what she wants in her shots. I have ruined more than one of her pictures with my inate ability to blink or look ridiculously bad in pictures, its a gift.

We have also traveled to santo domingo, a beautiful hotel and ruins where you can see lots of skeletons and crypts, and get married right above them for a decent price. It really would be a beautiful place to get married and it is a great hotel and restaurant, dont let me steer you in the wrong direction.

On thursday we visited a local hospital. It was a sobering experience for me. most of the patients suffer from either severe physical problems or varying degrees of mental issues. Its one of those places where I wish I was more comfortable and I begin to feel like an awful person because I am legitametely uncomfortable. Its something i will have to get over one day. One of the patients, Wendy, who suffers from a mental issue(not sure what and not really in the mood to offend anyone with an improper diagnosis) tries to search your pockets for cash and its a pretty thorough pat down. She also decided that she hates my name but that i have fantastic legs(obviously).

Ill write more about the other activities in the near future. For now though we are moving on to our next level, having all passed our first test(really more of a check point) and we are struggling our way through an onslaught of new verbs and adjectives.