I’ve spent the last week living completely differently than I have in years – I’m focused on school, and on studying. Surrounding me now on this table in this little coffeeshop off the main square of Antigua are multi-coloured flashcards, notebooks, textbooks, and a Spanish dictionary; it feels good to once again throw myself into learning, to want to push myself and want to improve.
Every morning I spend four hours talking with my teacher, learning new verbs and vocabulary, but mostly just chatting. We speak only in Spanish, though I had never studied the language before this Monday; a knowledge of French, some late nights watching Mexican novelas, and a bit of travelling in Spanish-speaking regions seem to be helping more than I thought they would. After class, I eat lunch with my homestay family: green beans and rice, spicy chicken soup with limes, cold potatoes and fried eggs. “Si, a mi me gustan las cebollas.” “Mas jugo, por favor.” “Mi hermano es alto y chistoso.” Our conversations are stilted and amateur, but they are all in Spanish, and I couldn’t have done that a mere few days ago. When we have finished lunch and the dishes are done, I spend my afternoons doing homework, teaching myself new words, and attempting to get some online writing done; around 4pm every day I meet up with Meera, a fellow student, for coffee, and we laugh about our mistakes in Spanish and plan our upcoming trip to Honduras. We scour the local market, testing each other on whatever we can: fruits and vegetables, clothing, toys, animals.
Four days ago I felt uncertain about my future in Antigua, and yet here I sit, feeling content, feeling fulfilled – proof that, as I predicted, one never knows what’s around the corner. It’s also proof that one should never blog hungry, sick, tired, hungover, or heartbroken (and especially if one is all of these things at once…ahem.) In four days time I have made a wonderful new friend, learned more Spanish than I thought possible, and fallen in love with Antigua all over again (or perhaps for the first time). And so for all of the hardships of travel, for all the times when I feel alone or confused or just simply, inexplicably bad, this is why I keep on going, year after year, country after country. I will never give up, I will never stop travelling.