HAPPY NEW YEAR! or FELIX ANO NUEVO
! as we say in the Spanish Intensive course that I have been sweltering through the last several evenings.
As I have mentioned before I normally attend a wonderful Spanish conversation class on a Wednesday evening at the Brunswick Neighbourhood House, and have been doing so for the last 18 months or so. Group members are a fascinating bunch who have travelled, studied or worked in Spanish-speaking countries as well as having studied Spanish in formal settings locally. So I am frequently out of my depth in their company and struggle to keep my head above water.
What I thought would be a great idea was to sign up at a Language School for a Spanish grammar intensive over the quieter period in mid-January, so that when we resume conversing at the Neighbourhood House at the beginning of February I might be slightly better equipped to hold my own. That was the plan.
Unfortunately, one thing I hadn't realised is that it is a long time since I have done any academic language study, in fact not since French in first year Uni. The text books have changed utterly. They are much more attractive, but obviously owe lots to the youth-driven communication revolution. It has taken a huge amount of effort for me to figure out how to understand their instructions, especially of course because they are all written in Spanish. One of my class mates - a sweet girl about to go into Year 12 - finds the texts a breeze as she uses similar ones all the time at school. Fortunately, she lets me copy.
Something else I am realising belatedly is that an 'intensive' conducted from 6-9pm inevitably carries over into bed time. Last night I rolled around in bed intensely for hours, not counting sheep but revolutions of the ceiling fan, all in Spanish of course.
One of the other reasons I am motivated to improve my Spanish is that I would love to visit Cuba, and soon. It is changing rapidly. Apparently in the last couple of months, for the first time ever, it has become legal for people to sell their property. Before long, as is the case for Canadians, Cuba will no doubt be the number 1 travel destination for Americans. I would love to experience it before that happens...
Speaking of Cuba, I was delighted to have an article on international urban farming (which is integral to Cuban food production) published in the most recent issue of The Big Issue
. They re-named it 'Spades and the City', which is a very direct way of 'sexing it up', I guess. Then Alan Atwood, the editor, contacted me last week. He asked my permission to offer the article to something called the International Network of Street Papers
, which he suggested means it 'might be read from Boston to Botswana'. I couldn't say 'yes' fast enough. In fact I only just restrained an 'ole'.