Feb 262012

When our trip was in its initial phases, as in still just a pipedream, we always agreed a layover for a few weeks of Spanish classes on our way down to Argentina would be an important part of it.  We didn’t know where and we didn’t know when, but we were certain we would make it a priority.  For one reason or another, perhaps because we began feeling pressure to speed up our pace, I noticed our language regarding classes begin to change; what started as a “Yes, definitely” was becoming a “Well, maybe..”    By the time we reached Guatemala, Zach and I had all but convinced ourselves that we simply did not have time to take Spanish classes.  The excuse we were using was that we had to speed through the next few countries to meet up with family in Costa Rica.  We could always take classes later, right?   As our trip progressed, this “priority” had made a final transition from a “maybe” to a “we’ll do it later.”

Perhaps it’s just a fact of human existence that no matter how much time we have on our hands we always convince ourselves it’s not enough.  Life happens, we become busy and before you know it, we’re out of time.  For me, this trip is a perfect example of that.  Before we left, I made a mental list in my idealized mind of all the things I would accomplish now that I would finally have the time.  But the truth is, most of those things on my laundry list are still waiting to be crossed off (perhaps you’ve realized by how far behind we are on this blog?).  Sometimes I cannot believe how quickly our days fill up.

I am reminded now of an article I once read about creating a culture of having the time and what I took away from it was this: you are never going to have more time than you do right now.  As a lifelong procrastinator, someone who always says “I’ll do it later – when I have more time”, this precious piece of advice really resonated with me.  Ok, so I’ll admit it’s especially easy for me to say that about our lives right now, but I tend to think it’s true for life in general.  Not necessarily in the literal sense (as this statement could not possibly be literally true) but rather as a philosophy.  “Having the time” is as much a mindset as an actual reality.  More often than not, if I don’t have the time for something it’s because I simply did not make it a priority.  It’s that simple.  Having the time – for friends, family, personal pursuits – is never something that’s going to come easily, no matter what we tell ourselves.  We have to make time because these things are important.  For me, the first step to changing my mindset about time is to abstain from using the phrase  “I didn’t have time” and rather say, more truthfully, “I did not make it a priority.”

Ultimately for us, it came down to whether or not we would make learning Spanish a priority.  Thankfully, we decided to do just that.  I can say with confidence it was the best decision we’ve made so far on this trip – an absolutely essential and priceless experience.  Money, but more importantly, time well spent.   

We were lucky enough to have the amazing opportunity to take classes in one of the cheapest and highest quality Spanish languages areas in the Spanish speaking world (and it ain’t bad to look at, either).  We chose the village of San Pedro La Laguna, located on beautiful Lago Atitlan in southwestern Guatemala.  For two weeks, we hit the books at a small school on the edge of town called Corazon Maya (thanks Erik and Pepe for the recommendation).   Each day we settled into our private, outdoor classrooms for four hours of one on one instruction.  Did I mention our classrooms were located in a beautiful garden and just steps away from Lago Atitlan?  Muy tranquilo.

More to come about our time in San Pedro!