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.
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.
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?
Excellence will only come with a commitment to improvement. It’s something to think about no matter what your age.