14 Sep 2011

2 years and counting...

This week we celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary!  We're not sure if we're benefiting from the traditions of other cultures, or just particularly nice friends here in Peru, but we've been overwhelmed by presents and kindness from people eager to celebrate with us.  We woke up to gifts of chocolate by our seats at the breakfast table and then when we came back upstairs to our room there was a lovely bunch of flowers from our hosts.  The message read, 'with love from your Arequipeñan family!' Then once we arrived at language school we were met by our friend Stefanie who had made us a beautiful cheese cake with a fresh fruit topping!  We decided we couldn't eat it all ourselves, however tempted we might have been, so that evening we went to Stefanie and Tibor's home together with other students from our class, David and Christine, to share it.  David and Christine had baked fresh bread for the occasion and thought that we might appreciate an 'English Tea' so came prepared with butter and sliced cucumber too!  They also brought gifts of chocolate!  It was almost like Christmas come early!

We also went to a 'Creperia' on Sunday for a very relaxed and tasty lunch.  We spent a while in the restaurant playing chess, cards and most importantly, enjoying an English Ale!  We had thought there was no chance of such a thing here in Arequipa, so it was a great treat.  Julia's task now, however, is to keep James out of the Creperia!   

Many thanks to all our lovely friends here for spoiling us rotten!  We've had a brilliant first two years of  marriage and are looking forward to many more!

10 Sep 2011

Poco a poco

It’s been a while since we blogged, so we thought it was about time we updated you on our progress with Spanish!  Every weekday morning we spend 3 and a half hours at language school.  The first hour and a half is spent learning ‘grammar,’ then after a coffee break we have a further hour and a half of ‘conversation’ one-to-one with a teacher.  Some days we feel like we’re doing brilliantly and could easily be mistaken for Peruvians(!), but other days we feel like we are probably the worst students of the language since records began and will never get the hang of it!  Now we’re reliably informed that this is perfectly normal and that we will get there eventually.  We are particularly entertained by the phrase that several of the teachers use with us when we’re evidently having a less than fluent moment.  They rest a hand pastorally on our shoulder and say... ‘poco a poco, poco a poco.’  Literally translated it  means, ‘little by little.’  It’s intended to encourage us that we need to take things one step at a time, that we can’t run before we can walk, and that slow and steady wins the race!  We often wonder whether, as our good friend Amanda once suggested, a paraphrased translation would be closer to the truth... ‘Yes you are rubbish, but try not to worry about it!’

Rather than going by our fluctuating sense of achievement on any particular day, it seems more helpful to measure our progress in more concrete ways.  So for example, last month I could barely understand anything in the newspaper, now I am beginning to understand the articles.  Last week we could talk about what we are doing, what we have done, what we did and what we used to do, but this week our repertoire has expanded to what we will do, and even would do if given the opportunity! 

It really is slow progress, but we’re enjoying it!  And we are really grateful for our excellent tutors at the school and to God for keeping us going!  Please pray for Julio, Edgar and Ana-Lu  as they put up with our, at times hilarious, attempts at conversation and please pray for us that we’d remain positive and keen to learn.