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A big part of my retirement has been about returning to my first love, Spanish. It was my favorite subject in school and I even won a trophy for being best Spanish student in my high school. That got me an all-expense-paid summer in Mexico on a sister-city student-exchange program. Unfortunately the teaching methods of that era (1965) were not geared toward speaking and understanding, but rather to grammar and reading. So I could barely communicate to my host family or anyone else, something I spent my working years wishing I could remedy. And unfortuantely when I went back to that same Mexican city a year ago for the first time since then, the sister-city program had just been discontinued the year before.

After a year of college Spanish I gave it up since back then the only thing you could do with a foreign language was teach, as far as my limited knowledge went, and I was not teacher material. If I had it to do over again, I'd take the academic route, studying Spanish and Portuguese, probably medieval literature and/or linguistics.

35 years later I wasted no time. I headed down to Costa Rica for a three-week immersion program just three months after retiring. Then I enrolled in the BA program in Spanish at the local university, interrupting my studies for a month in Guatemala and a month in Honduras. (Immersion programs are a very economical way to travel and study. It was $165/week for room and board with a family plus four hours of private lessons per day in Guatemala.) I graduated in 2003 and it was by far the most fun I ever had in college.

I also got certified as a medical interpreter at the local community college and for a couple of years volunteered doing that at a couple of free medical clinics and later took the H&R Block class and got state-certified to do taxes, so I could do more work with Spanish-speaking folks.

Since quitting work in 2000 I've been to Latin America nine times for a total of over seven months, mostly on my own, with DW coming down to join me for part of several trips. The most recent trip was a year ago with a cultural exchange group where folks from OR spent a month living with Costa Rican families in various parts of the country, after which we hosted a Costa Rican couple in our home for a week last September. That month cost less than $900 (plus air-fare) and I had a family of my own to practice with for hours every day. I'm planning another trip to CR soon to tutor English in a CR high school.

In the meantime I've started going to Spanish conversation meetups I found online and taking intro Portuguese.

Other than all that, I mainly devote myself to loafing.

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