You’d think after being over year in Guatemala alone, I’d have perfected my Spanish by such an anniversary. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite the sitting around sipping margaritas; indulging in the culture; learning comfortably in a class of enthusiastic students like, as happening daily in Antigua – at all for me.
In a nutshell, it was more like: Suddenly managing a Englishman’s international party hostel for 5months who bought it 3 months before meeting me – only to impress a volunteer at the hostel at the time but it didn’t work as she returned to her home country and never returned after Xmas – so he sat twiddling his fingers with it, till I came along. I thought I’d just help out there a little after a young, inexperienced girl managed to do some damage, yet before I knew it.. there I was doing my own damage by putting my therapies, studies and main reason I came over, aside.
I then moved to the coast to manage a hotel of which too, had it’s own situational shit to try figure out based on no direct hands-on help again so found myself terribly stressed, juggling all the new demands while neglecting my own health and well-being. Mostly, my interaction with local workers became a dire state of desperation to figure out their ‘village slang’ and what they were saying about/ laughing at me for each time.
I lasted just over 4 months before the hostile owner raged at me so disrespectfully, I quit. I went to Lake Atitlan for a month to relax and recover with my good friend and two kittens. Wound up very, very sick for two weeks (parasite and bacterial infections) and spent the 2 weeks after, just taking it easy, making sure I really had recovered. Then spent my last month in Lanquin, near Semuc Champey, again barely speaking or engaging with many/enough Spanish people to impress a full perfect tenses conversation. Phew, lots of stories to still upload from all the above!
So on my return to Central America 2nd year round – in a much happier and more relaxed state to please myself rather than others this time – I felt it the right time and place to better my knowledge of speaking the most popular language around the world.
I saw a sign for a Spanish School one day and followed it. It brought me to wander down narrow alleys amongst the locals make-shift corrugated iron houses, a few scrawny street dogs and to the entrance of the Eco Spanish School. All of that only took at most 7minutes from the start of the market hall entrance.
The stairs leading down to the school are in the middle of a large gardened area with coffee plants and banana trees and the more down the stairs you go the more colourful and lush it becomes. There is a simple office in the middle of the narrow property and not any other building or rooms attached beside a little store room, outdoor undercover area, in case of rain and two toilets.
There are 6 spots where teachers could teach outside of the office and the first three are near the water. Some get more sun, some stay shadier due to trees above but generally it is a great peaceful setting in which to learn, out by the view of the Lake and undisturbed by any traffic, tuc-tucs or four walls.
Each lesson costs Q40 per hour. For up to 4 hours per day ($106 per week). You can do as you wish really, whichever times suit you between morning and afternoon slots or for as many days as you feel you need. They make you right a test at the start of your first lesson to see how much you know and go from there.
I did 10 sessions in the end and felt like we had covered quite an intense amount of stuff over 2 weeks. My teacher was Antonia and she was so sweet, super giggly and intuitive to what I wanted from the lessons and a very clever, young woman, with great English and a universal understanding of different cultures. By the last session we were friends, with me inviting her to my birthday-lunch and with her saying she would keep in touch.
I can’t really fault the Eco Spanish School. It’s relatively new, it’s well-thought out with lessons and plenty of teachers available and flexible as you wish. It’s a great asset to San Juan and it’s in one of the best locations for outdoor learning. The price is reasonable and if you have intention of learning for over a month, it can be reduced upon request.
You can also make you own coffee from the many plants they have on site, all whilst speakindaSpanish of course! 😉 More info: