A Sense of Mastery

Blind Mans Bluff
(Note: I took this image yesterday of a group of girls playing a version of “Blind Man’s Bluff”. It’s nice to see it is still played somewhere.)

When my wife and I take cycle tour vacations the last day has a special sadness. We’ve usually spent a week or more packing our belongings on our bikes each morning, cycling all day, and then setting up at the next inn. At the end of the trip we can do it all with little effort and maximum efficiency. The final day, we are the best we will get this trip. We’ve developed a sense of mastery over this task.

That is how it is now here in El Salvador. I am as good as I will get. I’ve mastered getting ready for school, doing my laundry, teaching a class, getting copies made, finding good food and a thousand other things that I had only the vaguest clue about eight weeks ago. It means I can just enjoy life a bit more these days.

My Spanish is also the best it will be for now. It is far from fluent, but I can handle all of the basic social graces, make small talk and do all the basic things that I struggled with at the beginning of the trip. The other day on a volcano hike, I followed the custom of offering some food to the police officer stationed at the summit. He was curious about me, where I was from, why I was visiting and what I thought of the country. I was able to handle a five minute conversation without missing a beat. I can also better understand when students or teachers speak to me in the school, even with all of the noise.

But tomorrow, I leave for home. Then, I need to stop saying “como” instead of “what” when someone says something I don’t quite hear, and nodding and saying “Si, si” when I do understand. I’ll miss the feeling of mastery that I have gained here, but I’m pleased to know that I achieved these skills during my time here.

12 thoughts on “A Sense of Mastery

  1. Garfield Hug

    The innocent fun of children having a laughing good time playing this game. These days it is techonological gadgetry that ruins the health instead of running about and laughing with the fun of this simple game. I used to play this during recess. A nostalgic trip…thanks 😊

  2. Osyth

    What I found, moving here to the US after 2 1/2 years in France was that my French actually continued to improve despite not using it often (just phone calls with friends and a variety of utilities providers back there) …. I think you may find the same. The channel is open now and you will think more and more in Spanish. Failing that – talk to the dog in Spanish …. The Bean is much more cooperative in French!!

  3. Miss Gentileschi

    You´ve got so much to be proud of, Chris!! And there´s a saying in Germany meaning that one should leave the party when it´s perfect 😉 Have a safe trip home!! Cheers!

  4. williamleeone

    Firstly. Isn’t it nice to see children playing outside with nothing demanding batteries ? Secondly. Leaving camp for home is always a bitterseet experience, but aren’t you glad you went!? ; )


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