I'm very pleased to report that I can make myself understood en Espanol better than ever before and, wildly enough, actually understand what people are saying to me, even if they don't force themselves to speak at 33 1/3 rpms for the benefit of my often addled non-bilingual brain, after finishing a week of Spanish language school in Guanajuato, Mexico ... these developments are something that makes the week worth every penny (about $200 for three hours per day, two of which were with a private instructor). My ultimate conclusion on short-term language school: go for it if you can. It's a spendy way to spend a week -- I can make $200 go a long way in other ways when traveling -- but I know that I'll be saving some dough in the future when traveling in countries where Spanish is spoken -- I dunno what happened, but I can suddenly hear spoken monetary amounts mas mejor than I could before, for instance. And Guanajuato can be a fairly inexpensive place, so I'm not spending too much anyway -- hostels galore, good street food (speaking of streets -- holy cow! Do a few million sets of stairs before you get here and start walking up and down the real thing; this town's all about the steep vertical). As for hostels, my traveling companion's a bit older at heart than I, so rather than bring you the usual hostel report, I stayed in a bed and breakfast this trip... Casa de Pita, which is quite cute and comfy with a very friendly hostess, Pita herself. (I did notice that all the hostels I saw were downtown, where can one walk almost a block at one point before starting the ascensions inevitable in Guanajuato -- good locations on just about all of 'em, and they're cheap cheap cheap.) Even aside from the six or seven mariachi and norte bands entertaining every second on the main plaza once the sun sets, there's some crazy cool stuff going in in this little university city, like a very interesting annual Medieval Festival put on by the local collegiate populace: watched some sword fights, for instance, and was treated to a wonderful parade of people dressed in costumes of yore that happened by while I was sipping coffee in a downtown plaza. Tomorrow: trips to some touristy spots, like the majorly odd Museum of Mummies. Later this week: off to San Miguel de Allende, where I anticipate (not eagerly) seeing a lot of aged expats. I'll be riding Mexico buses, the best way to get around this country, for the next two weeks of travel, and I'll be arranging that travel en Espanol -- how novel and utterly good. Considering how much time I spend in Latin America countries where I've always babbled in a non-understandable mix of Francais and fractured Spanish, accompanied by pantomime (hard to do on the phone), language school was worth it and then some -- but (for me) only because I got an instructor who could give some instruction in English. If you've only got two weeks or less to spend brushing up and learning some new Espanol (you need to know a bit of Espanol first before trying this Escuela Mexicana gig), consider ensuring that your instructor can tell you what he/she's teaching you in a lingo you understand before launching into lessons. Related reading:
Language School in Guanajuato
Learning the Lingo
Yo Suis Perdu"
Spanish Schools in San Miguel de Allende
Mexico Travel: Beginner's Guide to Mexico Travel | Pre-travel Mexico FAQ | Spring Break in Mexico | Mexico Photos
Photos © Kathleen Crislip