Back in the U.S.A.

So my plans of blogging while abroad completely crumbled. For one, I did not have a computer with me (just the ipad and my iphone), so I had to go to an internet cafe and pay to use a computer just to blog… and well, who wants to be sitting in an internet cafe when there are colonial buildings to see, toucans to listen to, and Spanish to speak? Yeah, me neither. So hopefully I can catch up on some of the things I’ve been up to now that I’m back… of course, though, I’m now back in school – and loving it after my first week – working part time at the same engineering firm, and soon I will start my Research Assistantship, which adds another 10 hours per week to my workload. yikes.

Anyway… what most people want to know now is if I can speak Spanish or not. The short answer is un poco… a little. I took two weeks of Spanish classes – 40 hours of instruction – and while I learned a lot, how much actually stuck with me is a different story. Once I left my Spanish school, I started staying in hostels… and well, hostels are not good for Spanish! You meet people from across the globe who have varying levels of Spanish skills, but most commonly, everyone spoke pretty competent English. So we spoke English. I found myself using the same words and phrases in Spanish over and over… where is the bus station? How do I get to Boquete? Me llamo Abril. Como el mes. My name is April. Like the month. Yes, my name is a month.

Anyway, Nicaraguans and Panamanians speak fast… and don’t exactly pronounce the s at the end of words, so even if I could ask the question I wanted to ask, I was not guaranteed to understand the answer. And this fear of not understanding the answer made me a rather shy Spanish speaker. I found it best when I was with others who spoke no Spanish at all… then I had to be the one to speak and listen and understand. If I was with someone who spoke better Spanish than me, I’d often just lean on them to catch the answer to our question.

In the end, I learned enough to get around comfortably… enough to know how to get to these cool places:

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The cemetery in Granada, Nicaragua.

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Sunset in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

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Costa Rican beach near Corcovado National Park in the Peninsula de Osa

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Scarlet Macaw in Corcovado National Park

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Passion fruit at a coffee farm in Panama

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The Panama Canal

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Flowers and buildings in Panama City

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Graffiti in Casco Viejo, Panama City

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Casco Viejo – the old colonial city in Panama City

I’ll share stories and food another time… must get to some homework now!

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