This country really is beautiful if I ever just stop and take a good look. All too often I get lost in the daily things that I do here, like going to language school, working on newsletters, reading, going to restaurants, etc. A lot of things can quickly take up my time if I’m not careful- and it does!

But yesterday Kim and I went for a little motor bike ride up and around one of the nearby mountains, just outside of town. Although our city is not that big compared to others, leaving the “city limits” brings you to a much more rural, more village like atmosphere. As we drove by people looked at us differently than they do in the city, probably because they don’t expect to see bule (white people) up that far. But the scenery along the road quickly transforms into a much more beautiful scene. We drove past a bunch of kids playing soccer at dusk, we weaved along several beautifully terraced fields- like a waterfall of soil. We passed many local farmers carrying their day’s harvest on their shoulders back into town or wherever. And the mountains loomed large off in front of us. Going around in the evening, like we did, was a lot fresher (cooler) and the sun set bursting over the mountain was quite stunning.

All these things we had to take in while driving slowly along the narrow road. We stopped a couple times and looked around, but for the most part it was a drive by. I hope that my experience here is not just a “drive by”. I want to be a part of what I see. I want to live IN it, not just look AT it. There are so many beautiful moments and memories just waiting for me if I take the time to enjoy them. They are so totally here!

One of the hardest parts about living in a foreign country is the language. Of course this seems pretty obvious, but it is a LOT more difficult than I imagined. It’s not just that I can’t talk to people or communicate. The difficult part is being reduced to an infant when trying to communicate what you are feeling. I so badly want to express myself. I wish there were ways for me to effectively pass along what I really want to say. But when I meet people for the first time in this country, I have the perception that the first thing they know about me is, “oh, his language is choppy”. I really don’t like that that is the first thing that people might know about me. First impressions are important, and it’s frustrating knowing how mine are shaped here.

Of course, that just might be my perception. The fact is, I HAVE come a LONG way with the language. When I look back over the past ten months I’m pretty amazed how far I’ve come. I remember really struggling with Spanish in high school. I don’t think language learning is my forte. But considering I’ve never really become anything close to fluent in any other language (besides English), I’m quite encouraged.

Sometimes I make the unfortunate mistake of comparing myself to others- especially single (non-married) people. They have made better progress with language learning for a variety of reasons, but I think the main reason is simply that they have more time to study and hang out with native speakers. Over time that makes a BIG difference, and I’ve seen it happen here. But it’s just not fair to compare apples to oranges. Married people have a totally different set of priorities.

One thing I’m looking forward to is moving to our next location in a few months. I have a vision of sitting in front of my house (or our neighbors house) and just shooting the breeze for a while. I look forward to spending time with locals in our next neighborhood. That is the practice I need coupled with the chance for a local friend. My heart and my language will really race along then.