Thursday, September 10, 2015

Spanish in the Mayan Ruins

I´ve been in Copán Ruinas (in the northwest of Honduras) for one week now, taking Spanish classes every morning and studying Spanish all afternoon. I´ve been writing too – drafting grand and ponderous blog posts that I can´t figure out how to finish. In the meantime, I thought I would writing something unpolished with an update of how it has been so far.

It´s been overwhelming. I speak Spanish well enough to chat over coffee or read laboriously through Harry Potter, but I haven´t studied grammar in years. It´s hard work to wrap my head back around indirect pronouns and subjunctive case, unlearning bad habits I´ve picked up over the last few years. My classes are one-on-one with a teacher for three-and-a-half hours every day, and there is no hiding and no excuses.

It´s been exciting. Copán Ruinas is a picturesque and tranquil city on the Guatemalan border, notable for being one of the seats of the Mayan civilization. The ruins are awe-inspiring – intricate hieroglyphics and enormous pyramids nestled into a fantastic forest where scarlet macaws burst overhead in brilliant flocks.  I´m fascinated by the history that is embedded in the city, history and culture that remains to this day – not two miles away a community still speaks a Mayan dialect as their first language. I´m sobered by the remnants of the fallen civilization, especially the altars and etchings of human sacrifice – a reminder that communities what is great is not always good.

It´s been welcoming. I´m living with Karla and her family, and Karla is a whirlwind. She cooks and sells meals out of her house so that every day at the dinner table I´m eating next to someone different. She cooks everything from empañadas to lasagna and we eat like kings.

I´ve also been welcomed by Urban Promise Honduras, a youth development organization next door, They invited me to their after-school program and youth group, where I was able to connect with kids who told me with all the frankness of children that my Spanish wasn´t that bad – a high compliment!

Even when the lights go out, the dinner preparations must go on.
I have lots of thoughts that I´m still trying to get onto paper, more things I´ve seen and experienced and thought about, but in sum, I am here – I am well – I am learning – I am ready for the next step.

Tuesday, I start my trip to my permanent host family in Tegucigalpa, but until then I´ll enjoy this beautiful and historic city.

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