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Just got back from a five-week trip to Mexico late last night. In just one day we went from suffocating tropical heat to snow. Aren't airplanes wonderful? The snow was in the Portland area, part of the much maligned PNW. Gloomy drizzle? Bring it on. Soothing, dreamy, relaxing. I'm looking forward to months of it after a lot of intense sunlight and heat.

Speaking of Mexico, now that I'm retired...

I stopped working in 10/00, we moved from the Bay Area to OR the next month, and I set about to resuscitate my Spanish, dormant since high school 35 years before. Since then I've made nine trips to Spanish-speaking countries, including a month each in Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, three weeks in Costa Rica and Spain, shorter trips to Mexico, Guatemala and Spain and the most recent trip that ended earlier today. Some of those involved language immersion programs. DW did not come with me to Guatemala either time, Honduras or Costa Rica and only joined me for part of two of the Mexico trips. She was still working and not interested in Spanish school anyway.

I also went back to school and got a B.A. in Spanish at Portland State and a certificate in medical interpretation, after which I did some volunteer work for two medical clinics that serve low-income people. Just to prove how dedicated I was, I even got certified to do taxes (certification is required in OR) and worked for H&R Block for a season in an office with about 50% Spanish-speaking clients.

I'll be heading back to Costa Rica for another month in Feb, part of a cultural exchange program, living with a succession of families down there--the perfect opportunity to polish my conversational skills.

After that I dunno. I've been trying to connect with Spanish-language activities around here but not finding too much to do. I know it's out there and will have to redouble my efforts. But for the next ten weeks before I leave I plan to relax and enjoy the glorious gloom.

--fleg
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