Monday, 24 September 2012

6 weeks - Bogotá, Melgar & an old friend...

Hola everyone......!

I've now gone past the 1 month mark, which is reminding me that life flies by, no matter what you do with it!

How's Colombia? Well with 2 World Cup qualifying victories under its belt since I last spoke to you, it's pretty happy! As soon as Colombia score, you hear people letting off horns in their apartments; they like their football here......


Above: The goal machine that is Radamel Falcao, after putting Uraguay to the sword......

So what have I been up to? 

Well I've been up to the top of Monseratte, which overlooks the city of Bogotá. The view's pretty impressive, showing the city in a flat basin effectively:

video

I've also visited a town called Melgar, for the sole purpose of enjoying its warm weather. Melgar is only 60 miles South West of Bogotá, but its altitude is far lower at about 300m, (against 2,600m). For this reason, rather than having the 18-20° of Bogota (around 10° at night), it was a toastie 35°.

I'd been looking forward to going all week, to feel some warmth, but as soon as I got there, a typical Brit reaction came through of, 'It's too hot'. The only option was to go for a swim and luckily Melgar has a lot of pools to choose from....


I forgot to take pictures of the pool we actually went to, but this resort above is where I hope to go if/when I next visit....

A big thanks to Angélica & Lupita for a great day out......!

So what else have I been up to? Not a lot that would excite I'm afraid, if it's only the exploring aspect of this adventure you're interested in. I've been studying Spanish (in some way, shape, or form), every single day for weeks and weeks now. It's been great fun for me however, as it's exactly what I want to be doing and why I'm here. 'Properly' learning a language, is without doubt the most rewarding & enjoyable use of my time....possibly ever.

For anyone vaguely interested, I'll mention my thoughts so far on trying to learn a 2nd language and what tips and tricks I've picked up. For those that aren't, just scroll to the bottom, a little above the Lama!

First of all, what's my current level? Well the picture below is from an exercise book I've been using, which has been extremely useful. It's far better than anything I was given to use at secondary school......

There's only so much you can learn in a month or so of teaching yourself, but I'm happy that I can translate the text below into English, without any problems. I could do that after about 3-4 weeks.


OK, it's not Shakespeare I'm working with, but it includes the foundations of Spanish, so it's a great start.....

Although approximate, it's suggested that the most common 100 words in English or Spanish make up 50% of every day language. The next 1,000 words take you up to about 80%. When you bare in mind that there are about 500,000 words in the Spanish language, you can see how much time you can waste learning words you'll rarely ever use. 

Being aware of this helps make the process of becoming a foreign language speaker far quicker (says logic, not experience!). If you can get a list of the most commonly used 3,000 words in a language (yep, it's easier said than done learning them!), you can apparently cover 90-95% of every day conversations. Sometimes you'll have to use round-about ways to communicate, but you'll be able to get your point across without too much bother.

3,000 words may still sound like a lot, but remember that's not even 1% of the 500,000 Spanish words available!

When you also consider there are about 3,000 English words that only need slight adjustments, like having a 'c' instead of a 't', to become the Spanish equivalent, the task becomes even less daunting.


On top of that, you simply then study and read texts in your subjects of interest, be it football or philosophy.....or both....

At the moment my ability to read and write is better than my speaking, with listening firmly at the bottom. The next month I'll focus on listening to more Spanish, by simply getting out and about regularly and chatting to people. It should be a lot of fun and it's certainly not the time to be a typical reserved Englishman......!

Listening to Spanish at full speed still baffles me, it has to be said, but I'm picking out more as the days go by.

OK, enough of the language update.....

Last week I randomly found out that a friend from college, who I've not seen for about 10 years, would be in Bogotá for a day. Maria has been in Colombia for work, where she's been involved in a project for Nottingham University. It's based around improving equality for women in Latin America, which has an interesting history behind it.

We caught up at the Botero museum in Bogotá, the morning before she flew back to Europe. Alongside work from Botero, the museum had pieces by Picasso and Dali.

Maria took me to the main square in old town Bogotá, where we were made to feel right at home with a million pigeons:


They also had a Lama....


Check out his back feet - pimp my Lama!

It looks like my brother Tom will be joining me in Colombia for a 2 week jaunt, a couple of months from now. That means I'll have a bit of travelling to talk about, to go with some impressive photo's I hope.

It also means that I'll be spending a good 10 days with Tom relying on my Spanish, which is a good incentive to crack on and get a much better grasp of the language! It'll be interesting to see how I'm able to get by when he arrives!

Right, I'll try and make sure I update this more frequently, as this post is far too long....

Chao for now!

James



..............

....................

........................

But wait! I promised I'd have a video each month, showing my current ability to speak Spanish! Well I absolutely regret ever saying that, it was a stupid thing to offer, but I'm true to my word.........

...so I will get one made as soon as possible!