• Image: Living on the shores of Lake Atitlan means you can water each corn plant, one bucket at a time!

ocho dia (el viernes, el tres de febrero)

I only awoke to the 6:14 rooster snooze alarm. I was emotional when the day began. The previous night I had decided to give a calendar with scenes from Canada and a single teabag of turmeric ginger tea to my teacher as he had wanted to see pictures of Canada and was curious about the tea I was sipping in class. He didn’t know what turmeric is and the Spanish translation didn’t helped. I started to write a card and I couldn’t find the words the express how grateful I felt for the week’s classes. So I wrote just that.

Waking late means I skip yoga but not my chai. Alejandra served us pancakes with fresh pineapple and fresh strawberry milkshake.

I arrive at school and my teacher had arrived early enough to pick one of the premium classrooms. For once, he ends our opening conversation early and is keen to teach me more about verbs. He makes me work on some fill in the blank exercises. I get through it, albeit with several mistakes. I pause and say I am tired and frustrated and he notices a tear barely hanging on in my eye. He gets ready to respond and I say, “Es mi problema. No tu problema. Esta mucha ambicioso (I had to look up ambitious)” The teacher imparts more wisdom than his knowledge of Spanish (in Spanish) with, “Ambition is very good but you have to be realistic about how much progress is possible in one week.” I have heard that line not too long ago from another friend after one of my committee meetings – about being patient and realistic and not getting crushed because I can’t reach the end goal quickly enough.

After the first break, I plod along through 400 words of translation. It’s time for the next break and Antonio notices I am exhausted. He leaves me with “respira profuna.” I had to look this one up too – Take a deep breath!

More life lessons than Spanish ones this week at the school! And the Universe has curious ways to impart those lessons.

Like kindergarten kids, we were handed achievement certificates and I conveniently managed to spill coffee on mine as I walk back to my classroom confirming my distaste for silly pieces of paper when I haven’t learned enough or wasn’t working towards one!

After class, I have a chat with Mynor, one of the co-owners of the school to learn more about the school. He asks whether we want to do the interview in Spanish. I apologize that I am exhausted after working hard for four hours and need to fall back to English. If I thought I was emotional after the last class with Antonio, my conversation with Mynor pushed me over the edge. He explained how the school was different from others because it had a social bent to giving back to the community and is supporting the education of 70 young students. I will write more in detail about the school in another blog, but I was amazed how thoughtful and futuristic these young teachers from the Cooperativa Spanish School are. I extend a hand from my heart to him, mumble gracias and walk out wondering when I might be back.

We come home for another spread for lunch. I decide to leave my phone dictionary in the room. I need some quiet time and don’t want to have any more emotional conversations. Laurel helps me by demonstrating her Spanish progress and I am grateful. When Alejandra asks me about our last class, I spill that I am sad about having just a week of class. I love everything about the school and Alejandra is the icing on the gluten-free cake.

Laurel and I have a few errands but choose to debrief about the classes before heading out. Laurel was emotional because her teacher asked her questions about her mother. Also her teacher Brian had been unwell last night, so he came in a little late and under the weather. Brian’s brother came in midway during their class to check on him while another teacher came with some food for Brian. Then after the break, Brian and Laurel made a visit to one of the families the school supports. Laurel said the whole experience of witnessing community was overwhelming.

We take in different streets of San Pedro, help the vendors make their daily quota sooner because I am too tired to bargain and slow to work out the math in Spanish (and Laurel’s white skin and big smile doesn’t help at all!)