Spanish sabbatical in San Cristobal de las Casas
Welcome to our home for the next month.
Here is how it all happened – learn how experienced travelers make such important decisions. Or how not to do it.
We arrived in San Cristobal de las Casas a week ago and this is how long we planned to stay for. It was enough to cool down, celebrate my birthday and prepare for Guatemala. Moose (the car) decided to freak us out on the way in town and did the most erratic dance with the temperature and the heating I have ever seen. Mr.Blab put his mechanic hat on and declared that the thermostat needs to be changed. Easy peasy… or so we thought.
He went and bought a new one and after taking the old one out, he discovered that the two are quite different. He spent the next day walking around town and visiting every auto part shop in the vicinity. No success. We start to panic slightly. Maybe the parts are different in Mexico and in the US?! Another day of reading, talking with mechanics in the States and starting to realize that we might need to order the part, which would mean a wait of 10-14 days or longer – Mexican postal service is a lottery at best. I start to look at different options and looking for another accommodation, as the place where we were staying had other guests arriving on the day we were leaving.
Then I wonder if we should stay for a month and I can do my Spanish language immersion I had been wanting to do forever. Why not, we like the town, the weather is perfect and it has good language schools.
The last day of our planned stay, armed with the proper part number, I go with Mr.Blab to try and use my minimal Spanish and figure out if we can order the part from one of the shops. First stop is a small local vendor, who makes a phone call and advises us that he can order it, it will cost a lot and will be here within a week. We walk to the edge of town to the big auto store, where their computer says nay, but when I explain to the guy that the part they gave us and the one we have in the car are actually different, he squints his eyes, walks away with our thermostat and comes back with another one that looks like it. We measure, compare and exhale in relief, because they look as identical as we need them to. Pay $12 and walk out with a spring in our step.
Moose appears fixed, but now the fly is in my mind and with Central America under question – a different post – we decide to make the stop and within a day I have a place for the next month.
I have wanted to learn Spanish for a long time. When we stopped in Spain I made an effort and taught myself some basics. When we stopped in Oregon, I did a bit more and now I have a rudimentary knowledge that manages to get me through daily traveling standstills. But I want more.
Lets see what I can achieve with a month of lessons and intense learning.
The girls will start too and we will see how they will like it. I hope they stick to 2 hours, 3 times a week. But I will not force them.
The costs? I will be paying for the first week $110 for 3 hours a day. Depending on how I go, I will adjust for the next weeks. The girls will have private tutoring for the two of them – for 2 hours it will cost $17 each or $34 together. If they want to do three times a week, it will be about $100 a week.Â So for all of us it will come to $210 a week. Damage to our daily traveling budget – $30 a day. Not too bad, I say.
In Guatemala it would have been cheaper, but the food would have been blanderÂ ;)
Its a rustic cottage amidst the corn fields of San Cristobal. Big garden, smallÂ kitchen with bent knifes, tiny sink and chipped plates. I can deal with a lot, but painful kitchen does get to me. The garden makes up for it, although it will be nice when the dogs go home this week.
But hey, we know where to find delicious donuts in town and that should help with the settling in.
Donuts really do make all the difference, and a decent cafe/restaurant in town with cheap food so I don’t have to cook at all. I’ve always wanted to learn Spanish but never got past the basics. Once the baby is a little older I plan to start heading south more so we can do immersive language classes for a few weeks each summer. I can’t move cause my hubby loves his job, but I can at least get us exposed a bit more each year.
Donuts make for a better world ;)
We have a few spots for food and will try a great looking soup place tomorrow after classes.
Once one has a good basics grasp of the language, I think there is a lot more value in finding opportunities to speak with people, read books, watching movies and tv shows, radio…real immersion in the language, then in classes. I hope one month will be able to get me there, but we will see.
How did you learn the basics? By yourself or through classes?
Muy buen artÃculo, ha resuelto todas mi dudas.