Freedom to Learn Spanish and go to School over Age 45

Yesterday I attended my fourth and final day of Spanish language school at the Intercultural School here in Sámara, a school right on the beach.  The school provides lockers and showers along with a changing room just in case you want to jump into the ocean before an afternoon class.  Classes are four hours long and intense.  Most students appeared to be either in college or just out of college.  A few looked like they were killing time after high school.  I felt pretty funny and not in a “ha-ha” sort of way.

The last time I focused on anything for four straight hours was binge watching Jessica Jones on Netflix.  Before that it was binge watching Orange is the New Black on Netflix.  But I was never embarrassed in front of other people by an overly enthusiastic Latina quizzing me about the quality of Jessica’s super powers or why she waited so long to replace her front door sign or her relationship to her sister.  No one quizzed me on whether the lead character in OITNB (I cannot even remember her name) was actually a lesbian or was just experimenting since she in fact had a male fiancé.  I was watching, thinking I was paying attention.

Paying attention for four hours in Spanish class was a whole other thing.  I was expected to absorb what la maestra was saying, in Spanish, on the spot and get quizzed on it.  There are something like 15 rules for when you use “por” instead of “para”!  Who knew!  And I was supposed to remember them right after she taught them to us.  It was like going to school at a university, a place I have a vague memory of attending for seven years, first for graduate work, and then for law school, 30 years ago.

Luckily, or probably on purpose, I got to answer the question last, since I had no idea most of the time what I was supposed to do.  I just imitated the Swiss guy’s form and added my own ending.  One time I though the question was “What do you like about women?”  The question was actually, “What do you like about being a woman?”  My first answer was very embarrassing.

I tried my charming trick of asking the teacher questions such as “Do you like the president?”, to get her to slow down.  (She doesn’t.  He is “muy mal”).  I even asked about Columbian drug running  and  her favorite restaurants.  This just succeeded in having the whole class stay after the bell rang.  So much for that plan.  But I kept trying.  I was much more interested in politics than what I liked about being a woman.

In most of the school, inside and out, you can only speak Spanish.  After the first class, one twenty-something guy was bragging about drinking 15 beers  in the area where you were allowed to speak any language, and he could not remember what he did the night before.  A cute European woman told him not to worry, that she had it all on camera.  Now how exactly was he able to pay attention in class at 8:00 a.m.?  I, on the other hand, had finished the 1:00 class at 5:00, went out for dinner, rode my bicycle home, took a shower, and fell asleep at 7:30 on the day bed, working on my homework.  I never fell asleep during a Jessica Jones episode.  I don’t think we are meant to go to college after age 30 at the latest–it’s unnatural.  It’s also lonely.

Since the 20 something’s had a lot in common, i.e., they were the same age and liked to drink, they formed big groups and went out at night.  I do not feel bad that they did not invite me.  I have not stayed up past 9:30 since I arrived and I do not drink.  But you would think the school could market to a few adults.  Out of about 100, there were 4 people over 40, and no one in the middle.  Of course, I’m not sure that would improve my party life.  I would still opt for the early bird special (there is no such thing here, I’m referring to dinner at 5:00 or earlier), catch the sunrise at 5:45, and head back to my room to do my homework, which translates into falling asleep at 7:30 p.m.  So, I guess I don’t really care that I had nothing in common with the other students.  I’m not even sure they were at the school to learn Spanish.  The US guys seemed intent on picking up European women.

Also, most of them were doing an immersion program where they stay in a room with a Tico family.  From what I understand, the TV stays on all day and lots of kids are running around.  I suppose that’s why most of the students hang out at the school doing their homework and hang around on the beach.  There is no air-conditioning in Tico homes and with typical days in the mid-90’s, the school’s air-conditioning offered welcome relief.  Also, there is no wi-fi in  most Tico homes, although the school had it.

I have no air-conditioning in my bottom level rooms either, but I have wi-fi and I do not share my backyard or bathroom.  And, I have figured out how to place the three fans in each room for maximum coolness, moving them to the gated open sliding doors at night, then closing the curtains during the day.  There is no TV.

However, I just received an e-mail the Marvel comic hero Daredevil is out on Netflix which is available in Costa Rica.  I won’t be missing any sunsets, and I have plenty of pictures of monkeys, and now I have no homework.  Would I be bad to binge on just a couple of Daredevil episodes?  I do get a little lonely for the US sometimes and Daredevil reminds me of my husband who is the first to see all Marvel comic movies.  This one is about a blind lawyer who is Catholic and goes after the bad guys but cannot hurt them too badly because he’s Catholic.  It’s really good and has nothing to do with Costa Rica.  A little indulgence to appease loneliness?

6 thoughts on “Freedom to Learn Spanish and go to School over Age 45

  1. Indulgence. Lots of indulgence. Especially if it is Daredevil.
    Or the beach – lots of indulgence with beach time and opening your (amazing) body up and exposing it to the sun and the ocean, soaking in the warmth and embrace of naturaleza.
    Even indulgence in learning Spanish and meeting people sounds awesome; it is okay to laugh at the 20 somethings – out loud or to yourself. Better than taking them seriously (or ourselves for that matter).
    As for feeling loney, everyone there is probably feeling it, just displaying the consequences of those feelings differently, like by drinking to excess or trying desperately to fit in or missing sunsets and an early bed time in hopes of avoiding or covering the feelings of loneliness. Indulge in all your feelings and emotions, even if lonely is one of them, acknowledging that it may be the same as any other feeling, letting it go and moving on to enjoy all the other indulgences and abundances of pura vida.
    So, maybe recognize that those over 40 and under 40 are probably feeling some kinds of lonely and that may be something in common and a source of connection – as opposed to avoiding the feeling which can also be a source of connection.

    Indulge in everything!!

    • It’s odd. I can feel lonelier in a group than when watching the sunset with a scattered number of people who are also watching it alone (except for the occasional couple). I felt least lonely walking through the cloud forest in Monteverde all by myself. Odd. Although in Monteverde there was life all around me–trees, monkeys, birds–so I wasn’t really alone, just no humans. I loved that feeling.

      • Perhaps lonely doesn’t mean what we think it means. Perhaps lonely is a feeling of being disconnected with/from our self. Being in a group or bar or at a party or big event can silence the feeling or numb it, but the key to addressing the feeling is to work on the connection with our self. Maybe, lonely is an internal alarm that is telling us to reconnect with us; and maybe we don’t speak the language of feelings as well as we might.

      • Well put! And I appreciate the quote from Princess Bride. Working on the connection with self is easier said than done, since it seems to be many people in the States believe the mind is separate from the body. To speak the language of feelings, one must listen to their own body and hear their hearts and stomachs (gut feelings) and not just rationalize a choice with their minds. Acting on my body’s feelings is very powerful for me. It never leads me astray. My mind on the other hand, well, let’s just say the Buddhists or whomever coined the term “Monkey Mind” were correct–it’s all over the place. But that’s it’s job. You cannot trust it. That’s why writing out pro’s and con’s of going out with a guy are ridiculous. The heart wants what the heart wants. It’s not coming from the mind.

  2. Hey Erin, Are you thinking of retiring to Costa Rica? My daughter, a sophomore at CU-Boulder, is fluent in Spanish, so she translated for us when we took a vacation there three years ago. I admire you for taking Spanish lessons. I did that at the Rocky, as well as when I lived in El Paso for a year, but I was always so tired I never put much effort into oit. I also share your love for Jessica Jones and Daredevil! Did you watch Sense8? It’s kind of like a grown-up Lost, but they actually explain what is going on…in the fourth or fifth episode.

    All my best,o
    John

    • I’m retired. I just decided to take a month off and figure out what to do next. I needed some me time. I’ve been working for 25 years and the last 7 were so stressful I thought I had to get out of it before I had a heart attack! Okay, I’m dramatic. I’m focusing on my painting, love of writing and photography. Also, learning a new language at my age reduces your chances of Alzheimers by 80%. Them’s good odds! Thanks for commenting.

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