So I had a good weekend. It was great for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that I got to hang out in a swanky hotel in Costa Rica, but it was mostly great because I finally realized... I speak Spanish.
Puedo hablar en español. Puedo comunicar. Entiendo todo, y por lo general, todas las personas me entienden.
I can speak in Spanish. I can communicate. I mostly understand everything and everyone can mostly understand me.
Some background: When I arrived in Honduras, I had taken three years of Spanish in college. I felt pretty confident that communication wouldn't be a problem. Then I arrived and I realized the only conversations in Spanish I had had during my three years were with teachers who spoke slowly and clearly to facilitate my understanding. Which is fantastic, and I learned a lot... but then I met the Hondurans.
Hondurans speak fast. Very fast. This is, in fact, very reasonable. I speak English, and when I speak English, I speak pretty fast. Most people do in their first language.
Communication is one of the biggest struggles I've faced since arriving here. I luckily have a fantastic roommate who speaks to me only in Spanish, even though her English is impeccable. I notice the difference in the weeks that we don't speak any English with each other and the weeks that a few English conversations get thrown in here and there. When we speak only Spanish, I feel more confident; I feel more grounded; I feel like I have a place here in this country.
I know my Spanish has improved since I've arrived, but it's a difficult thing to quantify. How much have I improved? Have I improved as much as I should have? How is everyone else doing with their communication?
Well, here's how much I've improved. I've improved enough that I can talk on the phone without having to give myself a pep talk beforehand. I can now walk by people having a conversation and I know what they're talking about. Becky and I navigated the confusion of a cancelled flight in the San Jose airport! IN SPANISH! I may not understand everything, but I'm realizing that's ok. I don't need to understand everything, as long as I continue to try.
Communication was the biggest struggle I faced when I arrived, but it's no longer my biggest struggle. I can communicate. And I can communicate well. And I luckily have 6 more months to continue to improve.
P.S. I went to San Jose, Costa Rica to renew my visa. Becky and I traveled together, hung out in La Fortuna, Costa Rica in a super nice hotel, got an extra night when our flight was cancelled, and now are allowed to stay in Honduras another 3 months. Further blog post to come with pictures etc.
Love love love