I like learning Spanish. It is fun. But, sometimes it feels like swimming in an ocean of molasses past a featureless shoreline. It is difficult to gauge my progress as I flounder my way towards fluency. Sure, I can remind myself of all the verb tenses and gramatical structures with which I have grappled and over which I have occasionally triumphed. Of course I can delight in the infrequent opportunity to supply a noun or a conjugated verb to someone just beginning to assemble to puzzle of the Spanish language. But, when I open my mouth and words I know I should remember refuse to come and all the verbs that fall into neat, properly conjugated categories in my mind suddenly swap endings and combine themselves with the wrong pronouns, it is hard to see anything but my elementary mistakes. That is why it is good to be in Guatemala again.
The last time I was here was slightly less than three years ago, the summer I was 15. I came for two weeks to attend Spanish school, something I had been dreaming of doing since I was eight, maybe even younger. I enjoyed those two weeks and learned a lot. In fact, that was the first time I learned how to use and formulate gerunds (the verb to be + verb ending in -ing in English) in Spanish. At some point during those two weeks, I wanted to tell one of my cousin Kain’s friends that Kain was lying. But, of course, I could not remember how. I had to inquire of my other cousin, Holly. I have no idea why that instance has stuck in my mind, but it gives me hope. I would never have to ask that now. In comparison with that summer three years ago, my Spanish has improved exponentially. Having this place, this specific location in both time and space to pinpoint in my mind is quite helpful. Other aspects of my life have changed, but I am still learning Spanish. I can recall my ability then and compare it to where I am now.
And I can see it; I can see progress! And boy does it feel good!