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Una nueva cultura, una nueva vida

!Estamos apriendo Español, y estoy muy emocionado!

I can’t believe Joey and I learning Spanish. I know, not a big deal to many, but it is to me.

Not just learning a litte, but after three months or so I’ve learned a pretty decent amount. I can't keep up with a real conversation, chatting with someone at "regular speed" who speaks fluently, but I likely know enough basics to be able to fumble around a conversation if needed and I can read and understand even more. If I encounter someone that doesn't speak English I we can manage through a basic conversation.

We came to Roatán to join another culture, not to just look at it, and I don’t really feel like I can truly see and get to know another culture without learning their language, no longer depending on them to learn to speak to me and tell me their story, but for me to hear them in their own voice and in their own true words.

Fort Linwell Port Royal Roatán cow and calf
The day we closed on our home - Fort Linwell, Roatán

Learning another language has always been something I wished I would have done when I was younger. Learned when it was readily available at any and all schools I went to. They say learning another language is much easier when you start young, so my desire to learn has been pushed backwards by a belief that it would just be too hard given my sum of years. I’ve assumed failure was more likely than success so I've never tried.

fort linwell Port Royal Roatán
Jordy and Cisco greeting us at the airport

There is something about seeing and hearing folks bounce easily and casually between one language and another that has always fascinated and impressed me. Over time I’ve discovered that much more of the world can easily speak two or more languages, while the part of the world I’m from tends to really speak just one. In so many cases, proudly and almost defiantly just one. Though language classes are offered from the earliest we enter school, few seem to really take it seriously and really try. What's the point, right? It’s just a class you have to pass.

I took Spanish in Junior High and High School. I don’t really recall anything other than I was assigned the name Paco since there isn’t a Spanish version of Scott. I remember who was in my class, we cut up all the time and never paid attention, which is why I likely didn’t learn anything. De nada, gracias, me llamo es Paco is really about all I retained from a couple years of classes. I could count to ten pretty easily.

fort Linwell Port Royal Roatán scuba diving cow and calf
Learning to dive - in Port Royal in front of our house

This past year or so has been one where both Joey and I have pushed ourselves in many ways and we’ve decided to pursue things that we’d always wanted but hadn’t done. We’ve tested and overcome some fears and come face to face with others we’ve not conquered yet. We had always intended, with a move to Roatán, to learn to speak Spanish - even though much of the island speaks English and almost everyone speaks both English and Spanish.

But learning Spanish is a big deal to me. And for me it’s a personal goal that I didn’t realize could symbolize so much. I hadn't realized how much it would mean to me. I'm honestly proud of myself for sticking with it and taking the time to really do it, to push for it, which has now evolved into a craving to learn more. I can’t learn fast enough.

I’ve passed a tipping point where it is coming to me, it’s making sense and I’m beginning to just “know” words, sentences and structure. Often both Spanish and English words pop in my head at the same time. It’s an experience I’ve never had. There are moments when frustration hits and parts of the lessons seem tough or confusing, when things just don’t make sense, but pushing through hasn’t been difficult because I've wanted it badly enough. I’ve realized the goal is attainable.

In terms of the language itself, I’ve always had a fascination with Spain and with Spanish and Hispanic culture. The sounds, foods, history as it relates to the broader world and to the world where I live. If you ask Joey where I’d like to go most, he’ll say Spain. Even though we’ve never been there. There is a romantic notion that I have of Spain (or most of the Mediterranean really) so I’m not sure why exactly we’ve not been there, but we haven’t. He’s known since we met that Spain was the top of my list of “where would you like to go”.

Tienda de vegetales en French Harbor

But my love of what I see in Spain really extends to Hispanic or Latino culture, to the the Caribbean and Central America, to Mexico. The first trip I ever took to Mexico, years ago, was almost mystical for me. Hopping in a cab and hearing the music, feeling the humidity and the heat, hearing the language all around me that wasn’t like home. Being engulfed in another culture and one I’d always wanted to see for myself.

fort Linwell Port Royal Roatán west end beach
Main street through West End, Roatán

It was exhilarating. It was only a couple years before Joey and I met, and since we met 17 years ago we've spent time in Central America and in the latin culture there. Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico. We've taken trips to them all, then, as if waking in a dream, we ended up with a home on Roatán.

The term “mid life crisis” has such a negative context. The word "crisis" is a dead giveaway for that. But generally it’s the concept that when one hits mid-life, whenever you might deem that to be, bad decisions and a search for a return to youth sneaks in.

Not for me, though my 50th birthday last year and the events around it might seem so, they were thought through and very intentional. Fast forward to today and there's no morning after hangover asking where we are and what happened. No regret or remorse, rather disbelief and joy that we've found ourselves in the situations we are in. We are actually extremely thankful.

It’s certainly been a jolt and there have been life changing revelations, some heartbreaking and others wonderful, and all sorts of new experiences for both Joey and I, but we relish them and we’ve come out better and stronger (individually and as a couple), though just on a slightly different path than we anticipated or planned for. But how could we complain? I love the two divergent worlds we've ended up in.

fort Linwell Port Royal Roatán oak ridge Santos guardiola
Heading through Oak Ridge - East End - Roatán

I had my midlife crisis, or at least my first one, and can’t be happier for it.

I wanted to face fears, to make sure I wasn’t in a rut and to experience new places, people and cultures and we've done that. And still are, we’ve really just begun. We’ve met such amazing and fantastic people. We’ve eaten incredible food and we’ve done more than we expected to. And I’m learning Spanish.

Yo comprendo mas y mas todos los dias. Quiero aprendir mas y mas todos los días y amo la vida que estoy viviendo.

fort Linwell Port Royal Roatán Oak Ridge, Santos Guardiola, Roatán
Tienda de comidas - Oak Ridge, Santos Guardiola, Roatán

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