I’m joining Bilingual Summer

speak spanish, directions in Spanish
speak spanish, directions in Spanish
Directions in Spanish

Photo by Tom Magliery, source.

Starting June 5, I’ll be in South America for 2 months.

One of my goals for South America is to learn Spanish. That’s why I’m joining the Bilingual Summer suggested by Christine Gilbert.

The Bilingual Summer steps are:

1. Pick a language
> Mine is Spanish.

2. Set an intention to learn it
> I want to have conversational Spanish skills before I leave South America

3. Create an immersive environment this summer full of movies, music, books and other media in that language. Reach out to native speakers on sites like LiveMocha.com for language exchanges. Find local resources. Be creative.
> I will be in South America. I guess it’s immersive enough unless I lock myself in my room.

4. Do a little bit, at least, every day
> Gulp.

5. Keep yourself motivated, by participating in our summer long language love-fest.
> A dessert after every milestone.

My problem with languages

I have a problem with speaking foreign languages.

I took Japanese and French while I was in school. Even though I can understand what people are saying and I have enough vocabulary, I am unwilling to speak to native speakers because I am afraid that I might butcher their language.

Of course, those are just excuses. I’ll be in South America and everyone would know that I am foreign. Perhaps they will be more forgiving when I pronounce things wrongly.

Will you join Bilingual Summer too?

YQrtw: Why South America, Central America

Machu Picchu, Peru

Out of all the places I am going to on my round-the-world (RTW) trip, South America and Central America are least familiar to me.

For me, South America’s allure is its mystery and affordability. (Sort of what western tourists think about South East Asia.)

I’ve wanted to visit the continent but never did because it’s expensive to get there for no reason. Since I’m doing a RTW, I might as well visit South America along the way. Besides that, South America is most likely cheaper than Europe or the United States.

I have only 2 months in South America. That’s very little time so I won’t be visiting some countries.

For example, I won’t go to Brazil because they speak Portuguese there. (A rather strange reason but I want to practice Spanish and not get muddled up.)

I’ve put Central America into the blog title, but I’m only visiting El Salvador. My flight from Lima to Los Angeles had a stopover at San Salvador so I requested an extra 7 days there.


 National Capital at Buenos Aires,
old timey buenos aires

Credit: OSU Special Collections & Archives : Commons

I stop at Buenos Aires after a transit at Dubai airport from Istanbul (yes, the connection is terrible). I don’t plan to spend too much time in the capital because I’ve heard that things can be as expensive as the US or Europe.

I want to be able to speak Spanish so I might take a week or so of lessons here. I’ve read that Argentinian Spanish is very different from the rest of the Latin American countries but it would be quite cool to speak differently from others.

From Buenos Aires, I plan to head to Iguazu Falls to see the magnificent waterfalls. I’m thinking if I should take the chance to step into Brazil and Paraguay since they are near the falls.


Mountain gorge near La Paz, Bolivia

Mountain gorge near La Paz, Bolivia
Photo credit: Smithsonian Institution Archives

I didn’t know of Bolivia until I started reading up on South America. I fell in love with the name Bolivia and want to visit the place very much.

Another reason I want to visit here is because I’ve heard that living expenses here is really really cheap. If I can handle the high altitude, I might even take Spanish classes (if I haven’t done so in Argentina).

[Side note, while in search of La Paz, I found a photo of this posed skeleton.]


Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu, Peru

Credit: Epsilon31

Can you go to South America without heading to Peru? (Well, technically yes but my plane leaves from Peru so I must be there.)

Top on my list for Peru is MACHU PICCHU!!!!!! OMGWTFBBQ!!! I haven’t made any bookings for the site. I wonder if I will be able to get into the place when I am there.

El Salvador

I have a week in El Salvador to recover from my 2-months in South America. Since my flight from Lima has to make a stop in San Salvador, I requested Airtreks to let me extend a week here for an extra US$60.

I have no plans for San Salvador but I will probably stay in the country for the whole week despite it being the smallest country in Central America. (It might even feel like Singapore without the tall buildings, great public transport and airconditioned malls.)

What tips do you have for South and Central Americas?