I haven’t really been studying Spanish since I got here, although it is a goal of mine to learn to speak it while I’m here. While Ellen’s been cracking open the grammar books, I’ve been hoping to learn more naturally. I suspect I’ll need to figure out the verb tenses fairly soon, but in the meantime, I’m surprised at how quickly Ellen and I have become able to carry on a conversation in Spanish. When we first came to Costa Rica, neither of us could speak much Spanish at all. Ellen did a first-year college course in it and spent three weeks in Costa Rica when she was about 18, so when we got here she had some basic words lurking in the back of her memory. I had listened to a couple of Spanish tapes here and there in Canada, and was relying on my proficiency in French (last practiced fifteen years ago) to help me catch the gist of Spanish conversations. Yesterday, Ellen and I spoke to Mario, the grandfather on the farm here, for an hour and a half, on a variety of topics. He’s an old-school mountain man, a farmer who doesn’t speak a word of English and doesn’t have much use for textbook Spanish either. We talked about farming, education, alcoholism, road safety, getting over fears, and our family back home. It wasn’t just him talking and us agreeing, but a genuine exchange of ideas. I’ve got a lot more Spanish to learn, but this was a big confidence booster for both me and Ellen. I can’t wait to see how well we learn to communicate as we progress on this trip.