Thursday, May 22, 2008

En la escuela

This week is pretty quiet at the don Quijote school here in Guanajuato - by my estimation there can't be more than about 40 students, as opposed to the maximum occupancy of about 120, and last week's contingent of maybe 70. The drop in numbers this week is because most of the huge contingent from the University of Alabama at Huntsville finished last Friday. There are a couple of stragglers still completing internships here in the city, but they are few and far between.

As a result, the pace is fairly intensive. In my first two classes of the day (from 9:00 to 10:45 and 11:15 to 13:00) there are just three of us in the class, and in my final conversation class (13:15 to 15:00) I am the only student. So there's no hiding or sleeping in that class. Fortunately, Manuel, the teacher is terrific. Actually, all three teachers are terrific, and it's been a real joy to feel my Spanish, dormant for the winter, come roaring back to life.

OK: "roaring back to life" would be a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is - the geeky fun I get from learning the language endures.

Also, I changed rooms within the hotel last night, and it has made a major difference. I am now ensconced in this enormous suite, the whole general effect is one of royalty down on its luck - the decorating ethos would best be described as 'shabby genteel'. But - blessedly - quietly shabby genteel.

Which is especially important this week. This is the time that the university students finish their exams, and they take to the streets in celebration in large numbers. The local version of what are known in Spain as 'tunas' (wandering student minstrel bands) are called 'callejoneadas' here in Guanajuato (from the word 'callejon', or 'alley') were out in full force last night, so having a room away from the street, overlooking an internal courtyard, was crucial in order to have any hope at all of sleeping.

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