Back to School

It’s been 12 months since both of us girls have found ourselves in a classroom. Granted, it’s been a busy 12 months chalk full of excellent adventures, fantastic memories and even better people. We like to say we’ve spent the last year learning some valuable lessons in the classroom of life (ie. always take “first-class” when you have the option and developing a knack for sleeping just about anywhere).

Even though these lessons learnt on the road have been invaluable to our continued travels, we both agreed it was time we got serious about our Spanish, or lack there of. We had become true pros at stringing together random words to get out point across. Conversations were almost always “hand-signal” heavy and unfortunately, asking for directions or help seemed close to impossible. It was a way of travel we both had become accustomed to but we knew we could to much better. So it was decided that a week in Sucre studying at a Spanish-language school would not only help the time pass before we have our next visitor, Will (as I write this the countdown is now only four sleeps – Gill is beyond excited) but it would help us by leaps and bounds for the rest our our trip.

The decision was made and we set up house at Chez Calvo-Campo for the week and prepared ourselves for a week of grueling Spanish lessons. But like most anxious students, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. All of my previous experience at trying to learn Spanish were always toppled by my talent to daydream during class and half-ass my way through homework. But I assured myself this time would be different – we were in Bolivia and had a reason to learn plus an entire city to practice on.

Three students and one teacher is actually a very helpful combination

Just outside our classroom was a great courtyard for student mingling

Class began each morning bright and early with the Charming Carla, a Sucre native whose slow and articulated speech was a pleasure to hear. We spent our time together hashing out reflexive verbs, watching Spanish movies and (finally) learning the past tense. After five days with some serious one-on-one time with Carla, it was as if someone hit the switch to the light bulb above our heads – not only were we understanding everything she told us BUT we were having actually conversations in Spanish.

The Charming Carla, lining up our Spanish feature film

Learning those verbs like Spanish pros

It only took FOUR months of travel in South America for us girls to learn how to say “we went out last night.” Our once jumbled Spanish finally became more smooth, less forced and we were easily carrying on normal conversations with our host family. Like all brilliant ideas, Spanish school turned out to be exactly what the travel doctor ordered for these two wayward drifters.

Gillian with her frappuccino and computer slaying her homework

Leah taking the time to practice her Spanish on some Sucre locals