Where in the world is Sarah?

I am currently in Sucre, Bolivia. Since my last post I have been to one more city in Argentina – Mendoza and several places in Chile – Valparaiso, Santiago and San Pedro de Atacama. Since arriving in Bolivia I have taken a 3 day, 4×4 jeep tour of the Salar de Uynuni with 5 other people, we spent one night in Potosi and went together to Sucre, Bolivia.  Lots to get caught up on!

I will be in Sucre for a month or so. I am volunteering at a Spanish language school and in exchange they pay for my hostel and give me a discount on Spanish lessons. I work the reception desk in the morning which mostly consists of being in the office in case anyone has questions or the teachers need photocopies. Not bad! The couple that own the school, Jo and Abel are super nice and very tranquillo. They have an adorable 3 month old daughter, Luna that is so aborable and giggly!

Yesterday was my first day of both work and lessons. I was suppose to arrive at school at 8:20. I was exhausted because while the Uyuni tour was fanastic most of us ended up at least a little bit sick. Joel and I took turns coughing up a lung all night. No more lazy days, I have a job now so I got up, ate and headed out for my first day.

Over the weekend we had walked around the city (mostly in search of huge portions of food for cheap because while the boys were all super fit they never stopped eating!) I had also walked to the language school so I knew where it was and said hello before offically starting work on Monday. I felt like I had a good grip on the city so I headed out without a map. Never a good idea Sarah, never a good idea.

I went to the street my school was on – I had been given keys and was suppose to open the office. I looked for a sign for the school because I thought their was one but I guess I was wrong. Shit! I couldn´t remember which door it was. It was my first day.. I had to get the school open on time! Ok, I will just have to wait until Jo (the owner) of the students/teachers arrive. I waited but was feeling nervous so I decided I would just start trying doors and see which one fit the keys? I tried every door on the street. Twice. Then I noticed a police officer walking up the street and decided that maybe wasn´t the best idea. Trying to explain to a police man that I had keys I just didn´t know to which door they opened wasn´t in my plans for the morning.

I started to get really nervous that I was in the wrong place. There was another language school on the block and although it was awkward I went to ask them if I was in the right place? No, I wasn´t and if I wasn´t interested in enrolling in their school they weren´t interested in helping me find their competition. I did get a map though and finally remembered what street the school was on. I was all turned around because many of the streets actually have two names. I don´t know why. Maybe an official name and the name that people actually use? Anyway I am already lost and suck at reading a map so I gave up again. I was 20ish minutes late at this point. I thought about walking all the way back to the hostel for a map but decided instead I would look for internet.

Bolivia is the first place that A#1 doesn´t have a ton of places with internet and B#2 even when they “have” internet doesn´t mean it will work. I finally see an internet cafe, yes! I get online, go to the school’s website, find the address, mark my map and try again to find the school. After that it still took another 15 or so minutes, stopping 2 old men and one 1 teenage girl to ask for help. I finally made it to the school at about 9 but I was suppose to open the school at 8:20. First day fail. Thankfully Abel had arrived early that morning, opened the school and wasn’t bothered in the least that I was late. Jo later told me almost all the volunteers have some sort of story during their time here but I was the first try to open an entire street of the wrong doors. Gotta be make myself memorable. My first day was super easy and mostly I just played with Luna!

Yesterday was the last day that “the dream team” my group from the Uyuni tour would be together. The other 5 would be going to La Paz together and eventually splitting up from there. We had one final (huge) lunch and then it was time to start my Spanish lessons!

My Spanish is pretty good and honestly gets better everyday. I have a good vocabulary, can hold full conversations with locals and can almost understand everything that is said to me. I wanted to take lessons though because I want to speak proper Spanish. I just need a review of the grammer that I learned in school. My goal for this year is to be fluent, we´ll see if that happens.

I like my teacher a lot. He is easy to understand and the benefit of 1:1 classes is that we go at my pace. I spoke/understand more then he realized so we did 2 lessons in the time we should have done 1. The lessons are so cheap – $5.60/hour for a private lesson. Can’t go wrong! For this week I am doing 2 hours of lessons, M-F. Two hours goes pretty fast so I might increase that to 3 but I will wait and see.

Sucre is a very low-key city and the perfect place to spend a month relaxing, volunteering and take Spanish classes. More to come on the Argentina & Chile adventures and lots of photos!

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2 thoughts on “Where in the world is Sarah?

  1. This story just made me laugh so hard I almost spit my seltzer water out my nose. I really feel like a part of me is with you on this adventure through South America. You’re writing is so evocative and your voice is unmistakable.

    I am a tad disappointed that your attempt at breaking into an entire city block didn’t end up with you having to explain yourself to a Bolivian policeman – that would have been one for the record books. I am in no way surprised that you are the first to have tried breaking and entering on your first day of work. That’s the gung-ho spirit I love!

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