Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

As promised, here is a quick trip report on the week Señora Reboot and I spent in La Paz on a misison to improve our Spanish.

First off, this was a really great experience.  It would never occurred to me on my own to take a week to try to pop my Spanish at this point in my studies, but it was definitely a lot of fun and I made progress in ways that I have not been able to manage at home.  So public thanks are in order to the lovely instigator of this adventure.  Muchas gracias, mi esposa bonita.

Secondly, I’m not going to go into great detail about expenses, but the numbers for the school and home stay are on the school’s web site and the bottom line is that this was substantially less expensive than even a mid-range resort vacation, including the cost of the school.  Although I may try to write a quick post with lessons in logistics from this particular trip.

We ended up with a slightly different experience than we expected.  We had booked twenty hours of small group classes for the week and had enough communication with the administration of the school that we had every expectation that this is what we were headed for.  Until the day before we left, when we received the final schedule letting us know that they were unable fill classes at our levels so that we would instead be receiving ten hours of private tutoring.   This all worked well in the end and possibly even better than the small group class, but for a planner like myself that was quite a shock to the system.  In any case, the cost was the same, and it was obvious once we arrived that this kind of substitution must be entirely routine for the school.  So the only thing I would really change about that is the communications from the school ahead of time rather than the experience itself.

We ended up doing two hours of tutoring and about two hours of studying each day to meet our initial goal of about twenty hours of formal Spanish learning.  But that was really the smallest part of the experience.  There were two other aspects to this trip that made this a really useful (and enjoyable) learning experience.  The home stay and the fact that just about everyone around us spoke primarily Spanish, and many had little or no English.

The home stay was amazing. We were placed with a lovely Señora who lived alone but had family and friends constantly visiting. She spoke some English, so it was possible to make sure that any logistics were unambiguously communicated but was very good about trying everything in Spanish first. So we got lots of practice “at home” both with her and had the opportunity to get past feeling really stupid when her seven year old grand-daughter proved that she had a much better command of the language that I (over and over and over again). And I cannot leave the subject of homestay without mentioning the absolutely wonderful home cooked meals that we enjoyed while we were there. Breakfast and Lunch were included and the only negative thing I have to say about that is that the Señora seemed to feel that we didn’t eat nearly enough. “Estoy satisfecho” is a phrase that I learned quickly and well.

We tended to spend the afternoons and evenings in some combination of studying and wandering about town.  Dinners were generally down on the boardwalk, which was definitely the most tourist centered part of the city.  However, possibly due to the fact that we were there outside of peak tourist season, even in that area it was pretty typical to need to use a bit of Spanish to get around.  Which was great.  If you need to ask for agua rather than water to get H2O, you learn to do that quickly, especially when the temperature was flirting with 100 degrees Fahrenheit regularly.

So even though my Spanish is still incredibly rudimentary, by the end of the trip I was able to stumble through basic day to day life en español, which was definitely not true when I started.  Mission accomplished.