We asked ourselves, “Why settle for staying in the same place, taking the same walk every day, living a routine life?” Yes, we could have done that until we drew our last breaths…But… It’s not over till it’s over. We saw so many opportunities ahead of us. Our decision was made: why not see the world? Why not challenge ourselves? We could meet new people, continue learning, and go places we never dreamed were possible for us to visit.
A week in the Galapagos Islands with experienced guides was high on our list of things to do for many years. We can hardly believe it happened!
Planning complex travel to foreign places these last four years has been a huge – but rewarding – challenge. The funny thing is that it pales in comparison to our latest challenge, learning a foreign language in our senior years.
We studied languages in school (so many years ago, that too few words are remembered). We realized that if we planned to stay in South America for 7+ months, we really should try to learn some Spanish. We thought, maybe learn a few words and phrases. Later we realized that we could take classes once we got to our first Spanish-speaking country, Ecuador.
We talked about our expectations. Joe wanted to have conversations with people. Beth hoped to use anything she learned to “get by” – ordering in a restaurant, shopping in a market, catching a train.
We started Duolingo a year ago and have faithfully studied online every day – day-in and day-out. Now that we are in Cuenca, Ecuador, we started classes at the highly recommended Yanapuma Spanish School, a nonprofit organization.
One of our excellent teachers, Sol, at the Yanapuma Spanish School, eased us into a lengthy conversation (for us!) on day 1.
Our vocabulary is still pre-school level. We struggle with speaking. OK, you’re now asking yourself, “Why are they bothering?” Because… It’s not over till it’s over. Slow as it is and, sometimes, painful as it is, we have improved and learned a lot in a year. Why not keep going?
At Yamapuma Spanish School, we’re learning with a fun session on getting to know names and tastes of fruits in the market.
Excellence will only come with a commitment to improvement. It’s something to think about no matter what your age.