It was my third Spanish school in Antigua, Guatemala in as many weeks and I was beginning to learn what to expect. Or at least I thought I was.
I arrived at La Union and was introduced to my teacher, Alvaro. He sat down and started a natural conversation immediately. He was feeling me out, seeing where my level of Spanish was at. We discussed what I wanted to work on and set out a lesson plan for the week, including lots of excursions to different churches, landmarks, and small villages around the town. Similar to past first lessons and visits to cafés; it was standard but enjoyable nonetheless.
Midway through the lesson, he noticed that I was slightly distracted. This was a man of the world and he soon deduced that there was a tall, beautiful girl across the garden who was commanding my attention. A smile and nod and we are brothers of a similar understanding.
After the lesson, the friendly young secretary from the school showed me to my living quarters. La Union has a small apartment complex directly across the street where some students stay. Meals are provided and it’s a bit more of a sociable option to the traditional home-stay.
I sat down to lunch to meet my new housemates for the next week: an eclectic mix of world travelers. But just one of them commanded my attention, and it was the tall girl from before. We start chatting and I learned that she was my age and originally from West Africa but now living in Canada. Before I realized it, we had been chatting for a couple of hours and I was supposed to meet a friend for a coffee. But of course he would understand.
The following day, we had a school run activity after class to visit a local village nearby and volunteer for a few hours. It was a great opportunity to connect with the locals, and with the beautiful girl, of course. Once again we found ourselves chatting exclusively and spending more time together. I was learning a lot about traditional Guatemalan life whilst distracted by this girl, who was more and more growing on me.
That night we decided to get dinner together in the town, having had our fill of rice and beans, and splurged on some pizza. Another perk of living on campus and not in a home-stay is the freedom to eat wherever and whenever you choose. As we shared a pie, we learned more about one another and it became obvious that we fancied each other.
Over the following week we ran around Antigua like idiotic teenagers, studying verbs by day and partying at Café No Sé by night. Her Spanish was much better than mine, so she helped me with my homework. (Although homework could often be pretty simple. i.e. ‘go home and watch a Pixar film in Spanish’. Hmmm… ok.)
Alas, as all good things have an expiration date, her leaving date approached and we both knew that our little fling was over. We shared a magical time together but she had a plane to catch to Canada, and I was meeting Justo in a few days and we were going to continue our adventure towards Honduras. Life on the road means you must always move on.
The school itself is spot on. I can’t praise it highly enough as of the five Spanish schools I visited in Antigua, it was definitely my favorite. Why? They’re ready for up to 80 students at a time, which makes it one of the biggest schools in Antigua and creates a more sociable environment. La Union often has large groups from Canada and the US, usually students, who complete part of their degrees in the language school. This makes for a great environment as it felt more like college for me: hanging out in between classes, partying at night, and seeing your friends the following day, nursing terrible hangovers.
As for the girl? We’re still in touch and I hope one day I’ll make it to Canada.