Friday, November 12, 2010


I'm not yet fluent in Spanish. You'll notice I said "yet."  That says a lot about my first four days of Spanish school here in Boquete. I always try not to have many expectations of trips like this. Even so, I'm surprised at how hard and what long hours I've been working. First off, I'd expected "classes" to entail at least a balance of classroom work with field trips and other real-world, "fun" experience. In other words, less time tightening my grammatical grasp on the language, and more on gaining confidence and applying the skills I already have. Not to mention being more active, socializing with some of my fellow students and getting to see some of this gorgeous countryside.

Still, even with all this work—five hours of that intensive one-on-one classroom instruction, plus about another five doing homework and keeping up with my writing—I don't think the experience could be much more rewarding.

I'm really looking forward to my first extra-curricular activity with other students tomorrow evening. Some of us are heading to a restaurant for what I hope will be just a time to relax and have fun with our Spanish. I'm also excited about the chance to imbibe just a bit, since, but for one or two beers all week, I've had to forego my accustomed before dinner cocktail(s).

The Bell Miranda family continue to humble me with their generosity and concern for my happiness. Yesterday I returned home from school to find my room completely re-arranged, the two single beds now stacked and, in the additional space, a small table and chair for my laptop. All my clothes had been nicely arranged and all my toiletries and other small stuff neatly stashed in a closet. They're even getting WiFi installed next week, so I won't have to work so hard at school each morning before classes begin.

This weekend, Guillermo has promised to show me around the area by car, including a visit to his finca, or coffee farm, up behind the house. I can't wait for the chance to see everything and take some better photos than the shots I've been able to get walking to and from el centro every day.

Tonight I wrapped all the small gifts I'd brought for the family, and made the presentations at the dining room table. Stuff from Minnesota—a ceramic moose figurine, an ice-skating black bear Christmas tree ornament, a Twins cap, a picture frame for the family portrait I promised to take, some nice soaps for the ladies, and a few Pearson's Nut Goodies and Salted Nut Rolls. I think they were all a big hit.

That's it for now. Here are a few photos:

View from the second floor window of the school
My incredible maestra, Minerva
The school occupies part of this handsome complex.
A view of Boquete's main street
The Bell Miranda family home

Habla Ya's academic office and student "cafeteria"
My morning maestra, Monica
Guillermo in the kitchen

My bedroom, before the makeover
Guillermo and family with their regalitos from Minnesota.

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