Taking Spanish classes in Antigua is a rather pleasant affair. There are many schools to choose from although they seem to be quite simialr in methodology and price.
Most schools offer one teacher per student. They converse, study the necessary grammar and sometimes go out to visit local sites. Most students do very well with this method, but I wanted something a little different since I already speak quite fluently. My aim is to advance my Spanish to an academic level, with the idea that, in the future, I might study (perhaps Women’s Studies) in a Spanish-speaking university.
After one month of classes, I am still searching for the ideal teacher. I need to read in Spanish more quickly, and write with more sophistication. With these goals in mind, I have accepted to meet with a university prof two afternoons a week which means giving up my volunteer work.
That is a pity really because I have enjoyed working with the NGO, Ninos de Guatemala. They have built three schools for children from poor families where they are taught the regular curriculum in a caring environment.
During the first three weeks I stayed with a Guatemalan “family”. The woman, Bertha, lives in a rented house where she rents five rooms and cooks three meals a day six days a week. She has three grown-up children who no longer live at home. There were two Guatemalan high school students from neighbouring towns, and a variety of other students: a German girl, a French guy, and then three Americans from a religious boarding school who were in Antigua just for a few days helping to build a house (something like Habitat for Humanity). The house was quite modest as were the meals. I found the landlady to be very frugal and fussy. After looking at some other home-stay options, I opted to rent through Airbnb. This lovely home is owned by a university professor. I can cook for myself and enjoy all the comforts of home: laundry facilities, lots of hot water, comfortable furniture, and a lovely garden. A couple of pluses I don’t have at home are: a second floor balcony with a view of three volcanos (one quite active), and a gated community with a doorman!
On weekends I relax, walk, browse in the shops, get my nails done, visit museums, or other places of interest such as the huge organic garden up on the mountain which serves great drinks and food, or the park which incorporates wonderful works of art. This past week, a lovely German woman studying at the same school as I, has been a nice companion.
I am looking forward to another month here before heading north through Guatemala and Belize and back into Mexico for a few more diving excursions before heading home to work in my own garden.