I had the most fantastic experience last night speaking in Spanish, so decided it’s time to write about language and tell you how I’m getting on!
Most of my days are consumed with learning Spanish. I have lessons every morning from 9am to 1pm, at a great Spanish school – El Sol (Calle Grimaldo del Solar, Miraflores), which I’d recommend to anyone visiting Peru and wanting to take some lessons. I then spend my afternoons doing homework and studying (also lunching with classmates, lazy siestas, exploring Lima and the odd bit of shopping, but don’t tell Steven that). Of course all of these activities (ok not the siestas) mean more practice and my teachers include taxi drivers, cashiers, waiters, and shop attendants. Latest shoe purchase justified – boom.
I can’t believe how much I’ve learned in six weeks. I’m currently getting to grips with the infamously tricky subjunctive tense which is so emotive and poetic and really extends the range of what you can express in Spanish. According to my teacher Elsa, ‘con el subjuntivo, el corazon hable’ which translates to ‘with the subjunctive, the heart speaks’ – how beautiful is that?!
Speaking of emotive and poetic, the other day, while partaking in some afternoon ‘window’ shopping, I stumbled across a lovely little second-hand book shop, and spotted some books by Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian author and Nobel laureate, who sadly passed away last year. A hundred years of solitude is without a doubt the most beautiful piece of literature I’ve ever read (translated into English, obvs). Check out this review in the Washington Post from 1970 which sums up why it’s so magical. It’s not an easy book to read, I struggled for ages, but give it a go. I simply cannot wait to read it in Spanish, the original language. So that’s my New Year’s resolution for 2016 sorted… although tackling that, even in a year’s time, might be a bit too ambitious! But one day….
Of course it’s not always easy. At times I find it incredibly frustrating and isolating not being able to communicate properly with people in Spanish. There are lots of exasperating moments staring blankly and apologetically at people… Funnily enough, I’m in the middle of one of those moments now, as I stare at the men here to connect our phone line and broadband, and I have no idea what they’re asking me… technophobe + limited Spanish is not a great combo… sigh…
On the other hand mistakes and misinterpretations have created lots of comic moments along the way. I’ve been mixing up maracuya (passion fruit) and mariposa (butterfly) so a bartender thought it was hilarious when I tried to order a butterfly pisco sour [face palm]. He warned that if I drank too many I’d be flying like a butterfly, and then cracked up at his own joke…
Side note: Passion fruit sour = best cocktail in the world.
Back to last night. I went to a Mundo Lingo event with Steven and a friend from school. It’s a great concept and growing in cities around the world (check it out Londoners). It was at a nearby bar (Patagonia, Calle Bolivar, Miraflores), and when you turn up you get a flag from the country you’re from as well as flags representing other languages you speak or are learning, in order of proficiency. They didn’t have Grenada flags (shock!) so I went with my second home – the UK.
But what a fantastic evening! A bar full of Peruvians and foreigners, all wanting to meet people and practise language. I met some great people, spoke in English for a bit so they could practise, and then babbled away in pisco-fueled Spanish and was quite proud of myself :). I’m getting there, little by little / poco a poco.
I’ll stop here because I have pages of grammatical exercises to do for homework! :S
Love from Lima xx