Manically I flap around in frantic and sleep deprived haze aware only of my looming deadline. I’ve adopted a style of packing that is proving to be counterproductive to my goal of a 1pm departure. As I hastily stuff possessions into every presentable orifice my rucksack offers I just as quickly grab them back to readdress what I will need for the road. On top of this I’m coming down like a tonne of wayward bricks that have slipped from a precarious building yard pulley, the type of situation that would have no doubt inspired The Corries.
The bus bounces ceaselessly on the flat and even road enough to prickle suspicion in the numbest of travellers. I realise then my seat is detached from the metal fixtures used to ground it in its place. It moves independently, back and fourth, up and down, my buttocks clamped to the rodeo chair. Off the bus I maintain my fevered pace and march hysterically towards the Tuktuk drivers, servile to my 5pm welcome dinner. The driver smiles asininely as I try to pronounce ‘Escuela Espanol’. I know only too well what will follow. Cranking up the energy levels far beyond my means I begin to gesticulate with wide looping movements, harnessing a learned ability to convey information without the hindrance of verbal communication. Once confident that we are on the same page we ride off and out of town over muddy-banked roads in the direction of Escuela Espanol.
I sink into the steps and look out at the green quilted paddocks in the distance and the tangle of jungle that lies further ahead. Orange scars like ropes tied around subversive wrists cut through the thicket of dense fauna on the mountains in front. Colder grey clouds spill from the ridge above and the air here is heavy with moisture. I sigh deeply from my chest expelling the air from the city that’s been clogging my lungs. I recognise that the incessant buzzing in my head has moved to outside and to that around me. The foreign animals flutter, flap, croak and hum from within the Colombian interior.
There is a pervasive sense of calm that emulates from Paola, it is both hypnotic and hard not to mirror. She states nonchalantly that we will eat sometime later. I glance at my phone and try not to scoff audibly as I see that its now 10 minutes past five. So single-minded in my drive to be here for the welcoming dinner I’ve inexplicably fasted the entire day. Like the sweat and dirt that clings to my face naivety too is speckled across my cheeks. In Colombia things happen when they happen, not when they are supposed to.
The other students and slaves trickle in after enjoying the freedom of their Sundays. Around 8pm I am presented with home-cooked, fresh vegetarian food and an eclectic bunch of interesting people. I fall back into a catatonic state and attempt to listen to those around me; a smile gradually washes across my face accompanied by the feeling I am in the right place.
I’ve arrived, along with Jane, at an interesting juncture of the Spanish course. Technically we have intersected the first week’s lessons and have been placed midway through the learning curve. It is a twilight zone where things don’t appear in a linear manner; instead they resemble the houses that are under construction that I walk past each afternoon on the way to town. The bamboo pillars stand triumphantly seemingly infallible to the force of gravity. Shooting off in various directions they support roofs and walls with seemingly minimal contact. Just as we discuss irregular adjectives in our first morning class, the connections to the basics are seemingly there, yet the point of contact is masked behind a flurry of activity.
I hold onto the desk just so I am holding onto something. At the same time I try to adopt an erudite face of someone who knows what the fuck is going down. The irregular adjectives spiral around and I look for anyway to form my own mental schematic bridges to them. Using my basic German skills I rope together similar rules and relationships in a futile attempt to salvage the first lesson.
Funnily enough before leaving Scotland many informed me that the Spanish language is amongst the easiest to learn. Friends would talk casually about the osmosis like ability to absorb the language, the mind becoming a supple sponge that would envelop an almost feverish curiosity to expand and learn. Yet after the first two hours of this intensive course this apparently easy tongue feels more like an esoteric wisdom held by an isolated community of Jedi knights.
I stumble towards the light that streams into the porch and let my overheated head recline into the fabric of the hammock. I rock back and fourth like a psychologically distressed prisoner of war overloaded with otiose sensory stimuli. Letting the irregular adjectives simmer in my frazzled mind like pig shin and grizzle soup, over salted and with a layer of clear indefinable liquid floating languidly on top.