A week of Spanish classes and other scholarly escapades
Como se llama? Or como te llamas? That is the question.
Monday morning came very quickly and it is off to Spanish school I went. Not exactly the most dedicated of students, all I had was my knowledge of Spanglish, not even a pen or Spanish dictionary but hey, my intention is to improve my spanish skills enough to make traveling more enjoyable.
So the week of classes went something like this: class with scholarly, Cesar from 9-11 then break for 30 minutes followed by an hour and a half of high energy speaking with Juan Cesar, who threw in lots of terms for boyfriend/girlfriend while teaching cultural nuances and I even managed to learn some grammatical rules along the way.
Our group consisted of Dayna of San Francisco fame; Jo, a lovely, older woman from Scotland with sage advice; and Peter, the angry, idealist who doesn't know he's angry, helping union workers fight for just wages with his writings and protests. I was always paired with Peter as the other two girls found him so offensive, as he said outlandish things for shock value and it was apparent how much of a black and white thinker he was. I just found his idealism interesting as he clearly hasn't let love into his life, one of the things I teased him for mercilessly when I realized through one of our activities about being a romantic that aside from the teacher I scored the highest in the class and he has not done one romantic thing in his life, pobrecito!
Far and away the most interesting thing I learned all week is the word for handcuffs in Spanish. Ready for it? It's esposa, which is wife in Spanish. Not husband, not even spouse but wife. Clearly I won't be finding the man of my dreams in Colombia. At least in Colombia, my first and middle name are not expletives, in this country !carajo! means just damnit. Phew!
Outside of class, there were still plenty of things to explore in Bogota. Beginning with the best restaurant, quinoa y amarante, a veggie, prix fixe amazingness 3 course set meal. I've been back 3 times which is saying a lot coming from this non creature of habit. Such a breath of fresh air after the mostly brown, fried street fare. Although the breadth of fresh fruits available has been great along with the fresh fruit juices.
A group of four of us then went exploring La Macarena neighborhood, possibly of dancing fame but this cute li'l hood was full of art galleries and yuppie restaurants, which were mostly empty on this Monday night. Interesting conversation was had with Scott from Austin, who put many ideas in my head about places to visit in Peru as well as a niche of nutrition to study once this trip is over. Continuing the student trend, we watched Finding Nemo (Buscando a Nemo) in Spanish to learn more words, at the very least we expanded our vocabulary of sea life terms.
Sad day when Bethan had to leave us, moving on to a place where few tourists go as she's writing about land and conservation issues, where she will see wildlife with locals. So we just had to celebrate one more night out, eating at crepes (creeeepeees) and waffles, the local chain that maybe should be renamed as they just featured crepes that night. Good luck to Bethan and hope our paths cross again.
After a few frustrating afternoons of attempting to buy bus tickets during next week's heavily traveled Semana Santa to almost no avail, I decided a night of live music by candlelight sipping canelazo, the warm drink of aguardientes and cinnamon water, was in tall order. And ever the fan of cafe culture, I also ate a "dinner" of bread and melted cheese in my hot chocolate. All in the name of research, por supuesto.
Well, it was high time to get the heck out of the cold and rainy city especially after a night of being told some awful tales of how unsafe La Candelaria is after dark, this the historic neighborhood full of cobblestone streets, graffiti art, as well as the artist types trying to make a living on the street. So, on this last night, Marie, the owner of the hostel, somewhat begrudgingly, escorted me to an internet cafe to make a phone call as it was after 9 which is apparently the witching hour, further reinforcing my dislike of being unable to walk around alone, feeling unsafe. I was getting annoyed at feeling restricted so it was high time to move on to the next locale.
After one last morning of class culminating in a ceremony where I received a certificate for completing 20 hours of elemental Spanish class, off to the bus station we go for the next adventure. !Aye caramba!