I had my first exposure to language submersion on my second day in San Juan del Sur. My two Spanish speaking friends and I decided to take a walk up the hill to where Jesus stood looking out over the small city. The night before we had befriended a couple from Argentina, Chaly and Nati. Naturally, during this half day activity, the four of them spoke their common language: Spanish.
This is a fantastic opportunity. I mean, I’ve never actually been forced to really speak another language for longer than the time it takes to buy someone a train ticket in Italy; approximately five minutes. Here’s what I learned: six hours in another language is very different than five minutes. In that time I was thrilled, humbled, interested, frustrated, and completely mute, which is an unnatural state of being for me. It’s incredible frustrating (especially as a person who thinks of herself as a communicator) to have so much to contribute and no manner in which to contribute.
Although I may not be giving myself enough credit there. I can understand 75-80% of most Spanish conversations (this number is much lower when speaking to Nicaraguan people who insist on never pronouncing any “s”s) and can respond with basically good vocab and whatnot. I’m sure I sound like a drunk toddler when I’m speaking, but whatever. Even with my extreme Spanish prowess **extreme sarcasm** I did a lot more listening that contributing (which is humbling and frustrating) than I did actually sharing. Never have I wanted to be fluent in another language more. It was actually painful and shockingly exhausting.
It was so exhausting that, after we had eaten some lunch, I was sitting at the table, vaguely catatonic when my friend Martina asked if I needed to go rest. It was only about 2:30 in the afternoon but, yes, I did need to go rest. I felt like my brain had been put in a blender and I needed a good cry/nap combo like this one:
It was probably good for me.
No, it was definitely good for me.
During our last day in San Juan, we walked out the bay during low tide, around the cliffs to find a natural sea cave, and a man made tide pool intended for swimming. The walk along the cliffs was beautiful and fantastic, and the water in Nicaragua was a lot colder than Costa Rica, which I loved! The tide was coming in to a wide spit that was rather deep, and so created the effect of a gentle wave pool with out the crashing waves. There we were able to float with the undlating water in a magically gentle up and down, up and down.
After, we went to check out the man-made tide pool where we found loads of strange creatures that I have never seen before. Sea cucumber/slug type animals that change color depending on the rock the were near, for instance. Francina, being a sea-faring lady of Mallorca, managed to find some sea urchins which she greedily chopped open to get the roe inside. I even tried it, and I am NOT a sea creature eating kind of person, but I’m trying to push my boundaries here.
I did not enjoy the roe very much.
But I’m glad I tried it.
After a solid walk uphill and out of the next bay, we landed once again in San Juan to round out the day with some nighttime beach volleyball under the streetlights, and quesadilla to write home about.
On to Popoyó!