The first day in Bogotá, I have organized my one week Spanish school in Medellín. There was not much to do in Bogotá, so I chose Medellín since it would be a good base to go around too. I learned Spanish as a tentative course back in my last year (or was it 2 years?) of high school. We had basic conversations and watched movies from time to time. After 10 years, I really don’t remember much. So hopefully, with this week, I will be able to recap some Spanish, learn some more and be able to travel the rest with it.
I chose to stay with a host family since this is the better option to learn Spanish and considering that I have never done this before, it is cool to try out.
The flight is rather short and the taxi ride to the family took actually longer. Also, given the situation with Medellin, I was still a bit nervous when I was sitting the cab. The driver spoke some English and was telling me some things on the way. The road is usually bi-directional, but Sunday afternoon, all the people who went away for the weekend came back and it becomes uni-directional for some time. He also met another driver he knew and waved at him. He told me that this guy is always smiling but if you take his taxi, he will try to charge you way more. So behind his smiles, there were a hidden judgement just like in the rest of the world.
At the house, I met Andrea together with a Dutch guy who was staying in the same family. I did not expect that but why not. When I talked to Andrea, I realized that my Spanish is so bad that I couldn’t understand anything at all … I then got to meet Angela who is the host and Andrea’s mom and she cooked dinner for us. I can’t remember what we talked about in all those evenings but I will try to summarize in the end.
I can’t really describe all the people I met in Medellin here but I will try to list a few key people.
Sasha is a German mechanical engineering student. I went to the museum with him the first afternoon and the next day again since the attempt on the Monday afternoon turned out to be unsuccessful. He has a very (very) strong German accent when he is speaking Spanish. With 4 years of Spanish course, he was not bad at all. But the German accent killed him. The uber driver nor other people can understand him well. In this short period of time, I can’t say special things about him since he is quite typically German. Maybe only thing that was funny is that he is chatting on Tinder all the time.
Then there was Jimmy. He is an ABC whose family is from Shanghai as well. He grew up somewhere close to San Fransisco and got accepted to Stanford medical school for the next semester. He spoke already very well Spanish since he was learning a lot with an Argentinian private teacher back in the states. He is usually very pushy about speaking Spanish, so basically every conversation that we were having, was in Spanish. This is really helpful when you want to improve. But some things later in the second chapter.
There was also Paul, another German guy who was staying within a shared apartment. He is going to study in Lisbon and wanted to improve his Spanish before heading down there and start with another language. He tried different things in Medellin already such as language exchanges and stayed in hostels for a while too. We did not talk that much actually so the only thing more was that he likes to drink aguadiente.
And there was Marco, a Swiss guy from Bern who had almost no knowledge in Spanish. I was paired with him in the same class with Simón, our teacher for the week. I got to know Marco a bit better since we were having classes together and also conversation classes where we would talk about anything. It turned out to be more in English since he really wanted to express his opinions on some matters. He quited his job as an asset manager in BKW (a power plant company of Bern) and found this new job for some regulations in the government. Between these 2 jobs, he is trying to learn some Spanish but I think one of the reasons was also the last breakup in his relationship with this lawyer girl whom he met on Tinder.
So we ended up having vocabulary and grammar classes with Simón and conversation classes with Estuban.
Simón is actually very young (23) and is still studying some thing lcose to linguistic. He seemed to be a very bright person and patient in explaining things to us. He also spoke very slowly to let us hear all the words.
Estuban looked more like a personal trainer form the Gym. It turned out, Picking up women is actually one of his passionate topics and he read all the stuff from Mystery to the Game. I remember this PUA thing to be very popular back in the days and I read actually the Game as well. It compelled to me to certain extent because in the beginning I was not that conversational with women. But the end of the book of the Game, which actually I liked a lot, is actually about the motives why some people try out PUA. Many guys are insecure and need to be successful with women to prove their worth, or maybe rather, they want to get the girl in bed and feel proud about themselves after as a hunter who just caught his prey. In Spanish actually, it is quite funny that they use “conquer” when it is about going out. Actually this is a bigger topic to talk about and I will not write more here. Back to Estuban, who is almost 40 years old and still lives with his mom. So, other female students in the school mentioned this topic too and felt rather molested from him (maybe molest is a too strong word). But from the conversational classes, I can say that Estuban really wants to be good in picking up women.
Back at home, I got to know Wout a bit better. He is a geology student who finished his bachelors and worked 7 months and now wants to travel south America for 1.5 years. He is also learning Spanish in the beginning and was in Cartagena for 7 weeks already. But now the school does not have sufficient materials for him so he shortened his booking from 21 weeks to 12 weeks. He seemed very rational about everything (actually many Dutch people are like that) and when discussing about things, always comes up with facts and so on to argue.
Angela is the centre mother figure and cares about you like your family member. The first afternoon when I got back from the center, she was so concerned. The centre (parque barrio) is not somewhere they would normally go because it is not safe (yes there are weird people standing around and looking at you). At dinner table, we sometimes talk about politics since the election is going on. Also we would talk about some Chinese culture since this is not something people get to know in Colombia. Also, one of the first questions you get is whether you have a girlfriend, or you are married or how many kids you have. She was also so nice to organize the yellow fever shot for me.
Andrea works in a transportation company as a manager. I think she coordinates certain things and sometimes she gets quite busy. There was one night when a very good friend visited. She started to get emotional and they started to talk about certain topics they triggered her to cry. It was in general about being a human being and some morals but it felt a bit weird with me and Wout sitting beside on the sofa. Wout said they were in general being like everything will turn out fine and they start to get to the spiritual part. Wout is a very rational person and tends to think only toward solutions and does not want unnecessary emotions. But going through some things myself I know it is difficult to cope with thoughts.
Carolina is the older daughter of the family and works in a vet clinic as an assistant. Her ringtone is indeed a horse screaming. I don’t really know much about her since she is living only next door. But her family does not like her boyfriend much because he is obviously lying sometimes.
There was also a funny encounter with Angela’s sister. Most people in Colombia are religious and when she was saying goodbye, she said “god bless you”, to which I replied “thank you”. Lolz. I had a good chuckle as well afterwards.
There were some more students at the school, but we just had very short small talks. I went to the Casa de la memoria, a football match of Nacional which had great atmosphere and surprisingly a lot of women. Other than that, that concludes the first 5 days at school.
Me, drafted this along the road maybe in Lima as well, but finishing up in Cuzco