Micah: Unmitigated

|

Not just another weblog

Posts Tagged ‘Spanish school’

All My Little Words

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

I have completed my desired amount of Spanish school. During the last week of class, I debated extending my stay, but it was really just a foolish dream.

Reasons I wanted to stay:
The weather in Manta was near perfect the whole week, with clear blue skies. More students were coming in and I was getting to know them better, thus was finding more things to do. Like playing bocce ball on an empty beach about 30 minutes south of town, where the brave ones kiteboard. I was also feeling good about my expenses, living for about $10 a day (not counting school) while still enjoying the local food. Plus, speaking Spanish was fun, fueling a desire to learn more.

But the biggest reason may have been a mild crush on my teacher, a 24 year old Ecuadorian college student. Imagine the sweetest and most attractive South American girl you can, and now double her (I don’t mean in size, she is not a giant, just double the attributes).

She laughed at many things I said and her clear speaking made me feel like I was a Spanish genius. During one mistake in class, I did not pronounce an “A” correctly and accidentally said “Yo satisfago mi hombre” instead of “hambre“. Which means “I satisfy my man” instead of “hunger”. The stunned look on my teachers face was memorable. I am not really sure why I need to know how to conjugate the verb for “satisfy”, but it resulted in uninhibited laughter. The next day for an example sentence, she said “Tu parece gay porque de las cosas que dices“.

Now, here are the reasons why I didn’t stay:
Despite the sunny weather, the beach conditions were not ideal. High winds resulted in blowing sand that would not allow any peaceful reclining. Plus, my desire to take pictures of the blowing sand, resulted in a camera that is now not firing on all cylinders due to sand penetration.

I had to post this pic, so that my camera´s pain would not be for nothing.

I had to post this pic, so that my camera's pain would not be for nothing.

The most logical reason that I left, is that I couldn’t afford it. I am constantly doing the math in my head and I don’t want my bank account to be zero when I get back. I will need something to survive on until those Powerball numbers hit. Plus, I think I have been wasting a little too much time and I now feel the clock is ticking.

My Spanish, well that did not hold up on Friday. I had not been studying enough and couldn’t remember any verb defintions. It was frustrating but there were other factors. Trying to choose verbs for sentences when I have paired them up with an English word in my mind, is tough. They don’t always fit and I need to learn to detach it and keep it a languge all it’s own. Or something like that, maybe I was too busy staring at my teacher.

As far as my crush goes, that was just a childish dream. The language barrier is a little to deep and I am a little too poor. There were often moments during our sessions when she would say something that was obviously a joke, but I would not understand and just try to laugh anyways. Then, there would be the awkward silence and we would just get back to work. Oh well, hopefully she accepts my request to be friends on Facebook so that my Mom can start stalking her.

As you see, the negatives were a little too strong and it was time to go.

Playa El Murciélago

Playa El Murciélago

My last Friday night in Manta: I succesfully got pictures of a sunset and then checked out the casino. I had a fun run on the video poker machine, hitting a “straight flush” and a couple “four of a kind”s, but gave it back and more at the Blackjack table (ended -$12). I then tried to meet up with the other students at a bar that may not exist (they couldn’t find it either). So, I made the 30 min trek back across town in the dark, slightly enjoying the uneasy feeling of dimmly lit city streets.

Now: I am back on the road, testing out my Spanish. All my little words don’t seem to be holding up as well as I thought, but now I have a notebook to study from the rest of the way. The plan is to check out these southern beaches for a few days, then Cuenca and the southern highlands of Ecuador, before crossing into Peru. Some of you have already seen the blurry picture on FB, but I will have to write about my whale watching and island visit next post. Mi mochila se siente más pesado

E = 91

I Me Mine

Monday, July 26th, 2010

I had a decent weekend. Plans changed, but for the better. Everything seems to be coming up Micah.

The island tour trip thing got cancelled due to a lack of people. So I spent 2 days on the beach, sculpting sand humans and catching my first sunset. My sand creations drew some attention, with passing locals stopping to make additions. One little girl either asked if it was a young boy or said that I was acting like a child. I couldn’t really understand.

Brother, can you spare two dimes?

Brother, can you spare two dimes?

Sunday, I was supposed to move in with one of the professors, but upon my arrival, he informed me that plans had changed. He had an unexpected guest coming this week and recommended a hostal. I opted for my former home on the other side of the tracks and they welcomed me back with open arms. I didn’t really want to live with the guy anyways and was just being polite, so I was feliz with the turn of events.

I have a new Spanish teacher this week, another young attractive female to try and make laugh. She speaks a little bit of English, which has helped. The next step in my training is verb definitions and conjugation.
Ex:   gastar = to spend
Yo gasto largo tiempo en casinos.¨
or
Mi padre gasta su ultimo dollar en cerveza.

I am developing the knowledge base for proper sentence forming, I so greatly desire. English was always my worst subject, so I have to remind myself about pronouns, possessive pronouns, “to be” verbs, adverbs, and adjectives.
Ex: ¨To be¨Verbs = Verbo Ser
I am = Yo soy
You are = Tu eres
He/She/It is = El/Ella/Esto es
We are = Nosotros somos
Y’all are = Vosotros sois
They are = Ellos son

Those are only for permanent characteristics like “El Papa es Catolico” and “Yo soy pobre“. That is all I will bore you with now, maybe more next time.

Today, I had more fun learning verbs, this time the irregular ones. We are now actually able to have simple conversations about family and food. I even attempted to explain to her the difference between Catholics and Lutherans, in Español. I think I got a few of the key points out, empahasizing that we are the ones going to Heaven.

After class, the clouds parted for the clearest sky I have seen in 2 weeks. A new guy in school and I hit the sand and enjoyed possibly the best beach conditions I have seen in South America. Almost makes me want to stay for another week of class. The new guy also happens to have Portland roots: He grew up in Florence (OR), went to Gonzaga, and then taught theology at Jesuit High School for a couple years. He is just the 2nd person I have met with Portland ties. In Quilotoa, I crossed paths with a girl wearing a “Kell’s” shirt who had lived in PDX for a short period of time.

Now, I must leave this free internet and begin the walk back to the bad side of town, where I belong. Tres días de clases restantes, luego regresé a la pista gringo.

E = 82

The Captive Mind

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

I arrived in Manta on Thursday, getting my feet in salt water for the first time in over 2 months. The familiar Pacific Ocean littered with fishing vessels was just 4 blocks from my dirt cheap hostal. Few people actually swim at Tarqui beach, on the working class side of town. It’s mostly used for the fish market, traditional boat building, and driving on the sand to cheap seafood restaurants.

Better than my proximity to the beach, was living near the epicenter of the town’s market action. Early every morning, I could just look out my window and see the usual stands setting up and buses rolling by. All very real and non-touristy. During my 4 days staying in that section of town, I saw 1 gringo.

Bonus: That first night, I sampled empanadas from 3 different carts. Each one was 30 cents a piece, cooked in a pot filled with oil, and served with a garlic mayo condiment.

Friday: I walked 30 minutes across town, to the main beach “Playa Murciélago”. Very wide, flat, and crowded in the center. Low tide in the early afternoon results in a near 40 meter gap from water to soft sand. So, I sat on the wet matted down stuff, hoping for sun breaks and occasionally frolicking in the waves.

Saturday: I finally got to the purpose of my visit to Manta, checking out the Spanish school. The original plan was to do that Friday, but did not previously obtain the address. So, with coordinates in hand, I walked in search of “Academia Surpacifico”.

Up the hill, in a nice neighborhood, and at the intersection of 2 busy streets, it is close to things. I rang the bell of the office building and was greeted by a man crashing in the 4 bedroom student apartment on the 4th floor. The school is on the 3rd floor making for an easy commute, plus there is Wifi, ocean views (12 blocks away), and access to the rooftop patio. The fully furnished apartment with kitchen was one of my main selling points, and it was better than expected.

With no staff around due to it being the weekend, I just gathered info and planned to call Monday morning. Then walked downhill to the beach to waste the day away. With a grande cerveza in hand, I sat on a small dune, keeping a safe distance from the surrounding lip-locked couples.

sitting on the soft stuff

sitting on the soft stuff

Sunday: I strolled down to the fishing beach. Normally an early morning show, I was lucky to see a small boat unloading it’s catch, one crate at a time. That alone is interesting, but add in about 100 hungry osprey and sea gulls, and you got yourself an amazing sight. The men shuttling between the boat and dump truck have sticks but never use them. They seem to acknowledge the symbiotic relationship they have with the sea birds or are just tired from years of trying to fight back.

the operation

the operation

The fish are mostly small, but often a bird grabs a large one and is unable to hold on while being chased by friends. These fish fall to the sand, are picked up, and then dropped again multiple times. Before one of them shows he has the chops to swallow the meal. I, along with a few Ecuadorian families, was highly entertained and took numerous photos.

a pick up

a pick up

Breaking my attention from the fish mongers, was a religeous service taking place a little farther down the sand. They began to march my direction, before turning toward the water and getting wet. Not all worshipers joined, it was mostly just a crew carrying elaboratly dressed manequins on wooden platforms. They ventured out to waist height, then walked back the other way, parralleling the beach.

interesting church service

interesting church service

All the while, the sand standers walked with them and sang “Alabare”. There was also splashing involved, but I’m uncertain if it was meant to douse the manequins or the holders.

Monday: Made a phone call and arranged to start class on Tuesday. Settled in to my new lodgings and went grocery shopping. Buying for only a few days was difficult but still fun. (I can only sleep here for 6 nights because it is fully booked for next week.) I made a chorizo and potato chowder that should last me a few days. If I get bored over the next couple days, I may do a food post with recipe.

Other food purchases: I plan to make a spaghetti with chorizo later and daily cereal with bananas (no chorizo). I can’t satisfy all of my cooking desires in the short time frame, but this menu should help me pack on a few pounds.

About school: Plan is to do 4 hrs a day of 1-on-1 for 2 weeks. 6 days in apartment, then either hotel or homestay. Currently have one roomate, a female from Philly, who is studying medical Spanish.

Tuesday: Class from 8:30 am to 12:30, with break and free milkshake. Teacher is a female who doesn’t speak English and is with child. Very kind and patient but tough to fully understand all vocabulary by way of drawn definitions. I began learning masculine and femanine forms of stuff and proper use of “el”, “la”, “los”, and “las”. Also did plural forms. I am hoping I can get her to devote a day to casino lingo.

Right now: The weather is comfortable, but not ideal for swimming. I am content with lying on the couch, listening to Beethoven, and punching keys on my Ipod. It’s as close to home as I will get for a while, free from the everyday stress of traveling. Hopefully, I come out of this break with a reenergized body and a bilingual tongue. Y yo pensaba que estaba demasiado fresco para la escuela.

E = 79