Three weeks down at Amigos, one more to go. This week was very different for me: because I had one-on-one lessons instead of group lessons; because there was a sombre feeling with many people leaving, and with the school being very quiet; and because I'm starting to feel, for the first time, that my Spanish is reaching a semi-fluent level. The one-on-one lessons have been intense and draining (despite being 3 hours instead of 4 each morning), but they certainly have boosted my Español like never before.
Wil and Monica, two of the students that have been with me at Amigos these past two weeks, are leaving Cusco tomorrow. As such, tonight we held a little farewell get-together for them, over at Jesus's house. We had a good turnout for the farewell — of students, staff, and friends of the school — and it was a fun night of talking, reminiscing, and beveraging. Wil and Monica have both been great friends to me during their time here, and I know I'm not the only one that's going to miss them.
This week is going to be the quietest yet at Amigos, with only 3 students (including myself) enrolled for the week's classes. As such, there's nobody for me to be in a class with, and I've had to switch to private lessons. So instead of an 8am-12pm daily class (2 hours with Merly, 2 with Ursula), this week I'm just having 3 hours straight (8am-11am) with Merly, one-on-one. Today's lesson was much more intense and personalised, but it was also a bit lonely.
So the class of Amigos week 2 ended up being myself, Debra, Justina, and Dorien. Chrystal and Ricky both moved to individual lessons on Tuesday, Chrystal because she was slow and holding up the group; and Ricky because he has hearing difficulties and needs the personal voice. We learnt a lot, but I'm still desperate to learn more. And once again, next week will be a new class, with me the only old-time veteran.
In Peru, primero de mayo (1st of May) is a feriado (public holiday): it's Dia del Trabajador (Labour Day). So today was very quiet in Cusco. For once, there were very few cars, very few street hagglers, and very few school kids out and about. And not much open. However, I still went to school today, although our classes got moved 2 hours ahead, to a 10am-2pm timeslot. Which was good, because most of us went out partying and drinking until quite late last night.
A new week, a new class, but the same teachers. Today was a bit of a rocky start to the week's lessons. In today's class, we had Chrystal, myself, and a new American couple, Debra and Ricky. However, we were also supposed to have two new French students, Justina and Dorien: but they didn't show up! Or, to be precise, they showed up 2 hours late, and then decided that they were too tired to stay, and went back home. And these are meant to be the new, advanced students for the week. Not too promising, if you ask me.
Last Thursday was the 5th birthday of Amigos; and today was the school's birthday party extravaganza. We celebrated by going to the park this morning, and having some heated high-altitude games of fútbol (soccer) and basket (basketball). This was followed by a big, tasty lunch at a good polleria (BBQ chicken restaurant) and some really good, really chunky torta (cake). Then, the party continued at night, over more than a few alcoholic beverages, and then on the dance floor.
Over the past week, I've put my usual travel life of uncertainty, adventure, and mobility on hold for a bit, and I'm back in a routine daily grind. It's essential that I do this, in order to spend some time studying and learning; but I sure am glad that I don't have to do it all year, like I've done every year for the past 16 years of my life! It's a good reminder of how much cooler backpacking is than working or studying.
I've now finished my first week of classes at Amigos; and while it hasn't been exactly what I expected, I've learned a lot, and I've had a good time. The teaching has been much slower than what I had at UTS last year, but it's also been much more thorough, which should help to kick some of the bad habits I've picked up in my Spanish. And what's more, I already feel like I'm a part of this small and cosy school, which is more than just a school. The name Amigos couldn't be more appropriate, because this school is above all a place where everyone is friends.