Last night before dinner I posted a couple photos of Volcán de Agua. Here’s another, which I took today outside the front door of the school where I’m taking Spanish classes, Sevilla Academia de Español:
Here’s a photo of the school’s facade as seen from the street. There’s a rival school about a half-block down the street, which is no surprise in Antigua, where there are dozens of Spanish schools in competition with one another:
As you can see in this photo, the school offers one-on-one instruction — a personal teacher for each student — and we all sit in little stone cubicles around the perimeter of a sunny courtyard with perfectly green grass:
Here’s a closer look at the cubicles as seen from my desk. I like how we’re all close together because there’s a steady chorus of Spanish being spoken. It’s a motivating sound, all of the different levels of Spanish being spoken at once — the good, the bad, and the ugly:
In general, we study from 8:00 until 12:00, though some of us return in the afternoon for additional schooling. During my first week, the four hours of one-on-one instruction was plenty; in fact, it was exhausting.
However, now that the learning curve has lessened, I’ve upped my instruction to six hours a day — from 8:00 till 12:00 and then from 2:00 till 4:00 — and find the six-hour day more enjoyable because I’m able to spend a couple hours in the afternoon reviewing what I was taught in the morning (which this week has been irregular and stem-changing verbs in the past preterite tense).
Here’s a photo of the courtyard as seen from the opposite direction. My desk is the one in the most distant corner of the photo, behind the statue:
In the background of this photo featuring me and two handfuls of avacados, you can see a guy on a ladder. He was at the school today, trimming the avacado tree in the front courtyard in which I’m seen standing, plus the other trees in the rear patio area behind the office building behind me.
A bunch of avacados fell in the process, and here I am, happily claiming them for dinner. Indeed, avacados are so bountiful here in Guatemala, they literally grow on trees — quite a contrast from frosty Michigan, where they cost upwards of $2.00 apiece and are trucked all the way from Mexico or California:
The classes at Sevilla vary in price, depending on whether it is high or low season. I was offered four hours a day — 20 hours a week — for $90, and when I chose to up my studies to six hours a day — 30 hours a week — the price rose to $120. Do the math, and it works out to about $4 or $5 an hour.
Not a bad price, I think, considering the one-on-one instruction. When I took Spanish classes in college — in a class of anywhere from 20 to 30 students — the price was exponentially higher, and there’s no question I’m learning much more quickly here in Guatemala (and enjoying myself more as well).
There’s nowhere to hide when you’re in a one-on-one situation with your teacher. You spend every single minute either conversing or being instructed. I especially enjoy the conversation. My teacher and I joke around a lot, and we often find ourselves talking about Latin music, in particular the lyrics of songs we like. It’s fun — we bring in our iPods and share music. She explains the lyrics of songs I don’t understand.
In terms of music, today we talked once again about my teacher’s favorite band, Maná, and she explained the lyrics of the song “Mariposa Traicionera.” The song’s title translates to “Treasonous Butterfly,” the butterfly serving as a metaphor for the woman who inspired the song. There’s a great video for the song, though I warn you it’s a little sexy:
We also talked today about whether Ricky Martin is truly gay. My teacher claims it’s an open secret here in Latin America that he’s gay. In any event, there’s no question the man can dance.
Need evidence? Watch the video for Martin’s recent Spanish-language hit “Pégate,” particularly around the 1:20 minute mark, when he starts shaking his bom-bom. (Sorry, but YouTube embedding has been disabled for this song, so you’ll have to click through).