Learning Spanish, rule one: Smile and say Si!

I think that I have been truly blessed; my host family are so amazing. I am living with a single mum of three, Violetta, her youngest daughter, Paulina and her 19-year-old son, Jose Manuel; her eldest daughter, who I hear is very much like me, is presently in France for the year. I could not ask for a more hospitable set of people, they are really inclusive and are extremely patient, considering I do not speak any Spanish. On my first day in Copey Violetta and I started by trying to communicate in Spanish to each other, this was not very successful. Even when I did formulate enough Spanish to string together a question, I could not understand the answers she would give me.  In the end we resulted in making hand-gestures to each other and acting out certain words and questions. I feel we are both now masters of Charades. That evening I went to bed exhausted and anxious, how would I ever get through three months of this?
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                                                        (Paulina, Jose and I)
After a good lye-in I woke up on Friday with new energy and the determination to learn Spanish. I had breakfast and hit the books straight away. I wrote down lots of questions that I wanted to ask my ‘temporary mum’ and somehow communicated them to her through broken sentences and a  bad Spanish accent. Thanks to Jose, who I should nickname ‘the translator’ as he speaks good English, I managed to get through the day. I’m praying I begin to pick it up quickly, I know I am improving but the rate still does not seem fast enough for me.
Ok so aside from my inability to communicate with pretty much everyone, I really like Copey. Although I am used to London, I don’t think you could get anywhere further from it if you tried. Copey is a small VERY rural village in a valley surrounded by a protected forest. It is ridiculously beautiful. It has unreal mountains which I can’t wait to start hiking up (once I know them, don’t worry, no mountain rescue for me) and it has a big river with many streams running from it. The only buildings in the village are a small mini-mart,  two mini ‘poperia’s’ (shops),  a church, an elementary school, the learning centre and a police station, which is manned by only  one person at a time. I have heard that it is only still really there because they used to have a problem with drugs runs. The local entertainment is a football field, which is mainly only used on Sundays. There is no internet (OMG) and most houses do not have TV’s or radios; people literally visit each other for coffee and that’s it! By the end of Friday I could tell I would have a lot of time on my hands, Spanish books here I come.
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                (The Poperia)                                                (The local church)
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At the moment I am trying to integrate with my ‘family’ as much as possible, in the last couple of days I have been to Santa Maria to use the internet cafĂ© and to run errands with my ‘host’ uncle Daniel (Sedies husband) in Saint Marcos and to watch Jose play in a family game of football.  Although I have stayed relatively busy this week I know that after a few more days, when the boredom kicks in, I will be willing the start of term and my teaching to begin. Although the tranquillity is nice, bring on the 10th Feb!

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