When most of us move to Cuenca, Spanish lessons are high on the to-do list. The need for our classes kept getting shoved way down the list and didn’t actually take place for the first three months. There was way too much to accomplish to incorporate learning how to talk all over again. Hindsight is always 20-20. Do it the day you land if possible!
A new friend recommended Maria Elena Andrade as a fun possibility. Most of the time, it is absolutely fun….but other times one could compare it to deliberately indulging in a root canal three times a week!
Maria Elena comes with a ton of credentials, degrees in Spanish, English, Dance and Culinary Arts. One would say at the very minimum, a well rounded individual. But make no mistake, the lady does not fool around, has high expectations and is an avid believer in “homework”! Well, at this age, I would have told you that entailed laundry, dishes, etc…..not cutting pictures out of magazines and writing about them! My attitude basically sucked where this was concerned….once I lost the “….I know everything” side of my personality…..I had a ball! Singing the Spanish alphabet song out loud at this age…trust me…you need to check your attitude at the door and embrace your inner child!
One of the more inventive ways Maria Elena teaches Spanish is cooking classes. Most Gringos will tell you among the many new things you have to learn here, is food and spices. If you happen to be looking for basil, without Spanish, who looks for albahaca?
The cooking classes start with each student getting a list of things that must be purchased in the Mercado…(now there’s a real learning experience!). A trip to the Mercado with Maria Elena shows you exactly how it all works, including the bargaining process and what all these strange looking items really are. It’s then back to her house for the cleaning, prep, chop, dice, sauté routine etc. She details the entire process of preparing delicious meals all with the very freshest of ingredients. The evening ends with a feast enjoyed by all the students who by now know a lot more Spanish than they came in the door with. The whole cooking class takes about 4 hours from start to finish and it’s packed not only with new knowledge but giggles too numerous to mention. Total cost for this fun packed evening is a whopping $6.00 + the cost of the ingredients (nominal at the Mercado). It’s cheap entertainment by anyone’s budget.
It’s a scientific fact, learning a new language helps to postpone the onset of Alzheimer’s. Sign up somewhere today and try to have some fun along the way!