Sunday, February 16, 2014

Learning Spanish / Aprender Espaniol

There are so many ways to learn a new language. My new goal is to be more or less fluent in Spanish. This language is widely spoken in Americas. I like to learn Spanish because everybody looks at me as if I should speak Spanish! I remember some people in Puerto Rico and DominicanRepublic were taking it personally and getting upset because I didn’t speak their language. They thought I was from hispanic decent but grew up in the U.S and never got to learn Spanish.

The best way to learn is to be in a Spanish-speaking environment. Last year in Colombia, my Norwegian cruising friend and I took some private classes in Spanish. We found a good teacher in Cartagena and took 2 hours classes, 5 days a week, for one month. The note book from that class is my Spanish Bible. Nowadays, there are so many other sources for learning a new language, such as apps on your electronic device. The best Spanish learning app I found is "Duolingo". It’s so easy to learn a new language through this application. In addition, when you get to advanced level and formulate new sentences, Duolingo applies those sentences and translates the Wikipedia and other documents to Spanish. Another useful app is “Translate”, which is just a regular multi language dictionary but very easy to switch between different languages. And then there are audiobooks that you can play all day while cruising on your boat.
Aboard Earthling, we also have Spanish for dummies and cruisers, and Spanish music, such as Julio Iglesias and Gypsy Kings. Moreover, a good way to end a hot sunny day on the boat is to watch a Latin movie with subtitle. 
Between all these sources, one should be able to learn a new language quickly. But the most important criteria to learn a new language is Self-Discipline! 

If you find yourself in Cartagena and need private lessons in Spanish, contact Lu Rodriguez at

El Amor De Panama

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Coco Heaven

Gorgidup Dummat, San Blas

Coconuts are everywhere in the Caribbean, from Florida Keys to the rainforest in Dominica. But in this part of the Caribbean, San Blas, there are more coco palms than most it combined. All the deserted islands in San Blas are covered by palm trees of all sizes. I have never been in such a coco paradise. This fruit has been the major commodity for Kunas and they have been trading it with Colombians for centuries. Therefore, coconuts have been a sacred fruit and it's more or less forbidden by outsiders to help themselves with a nut on the ground. Katherine and I were talking about how weird it is that we are in the Coconut Heaven but can't have any of it! Consequently, I had a dream! They caught me because I took a coconut. I was in trouble, but confident that I could protect my rights as a citizen of Earth. In a conference with the Kuna chiefs, I presented that I respect their culture and understand how significant coconuts have been in their history. However, as a guest, visitor, or someone that is just passing through and find themselves thirsty or hungry, and there are coconuts on the ground, then, that should be the least amount of a gift offered to a guest. Most people that pass through don't carry a Machete to open a coconut and most wouldn't clime the trees anyway. If they are willing to do that, then they should be allowed to.  After that conversation, Kuna chiefs made a new statement that visitors can help themselves with coconuts for immediate indulgent but absolutely for no commercial use. And then, I woke up, heard someone outside the boat, went to the cockpit and saw a father and a son. They handed over two coconuts and said “Regalo” (gift)!

Love from Coconut Heaven