the value of sleep…

November 12, 2009

We had our first spanish class on Monday. I really like our professor and the way that she teaches.  We are in class for 4 hours, which is a lot of spanish class.  But, she breaks it up well with stories and asks us questions unrelated to class.  She’s funny and interesting.  I feel like I’ve learned a lot in just a couple of days. I feel a lot more confident speaking. We’ve had to speak Spanish everyday for a month now, so we’ve learned a lot on our own just from hearing it and being forced to use it. But, I’ve never gotten very confident in speaking spanish. There were a lot of questions that I had about why people said certain things, and how the grammar worked: things that I had learned in spanish class in high school and college but had forgotten. The way it has been up until this week was that Scott was more confident and better at speaking, so he did most of the talking. I understood more of what people said, so I would translate for him a lot of the time, and then he would respond for both of us. It worked out ok and I’m glad that each of us was good at one part so that we could work together and get by fairly well. But, I hated not being able to speak for myself very well. Each time I would try to speak, I would get nervous and I would stumble over something that I actually knew how to say. Now, I’m in a classroom setting where I can ask the questions that I have. I can figure out how the language works instead of just trying to guess at it or repeat what I hear without knowing why I’m saying it. This makes me feel a lot more confident and my speaking has improved already. I’m really really glad that we decided to take some spanish classes and I’m really glad that we chose the school that we chose. The school is called Habla Ya (, and we really like it a lot. 
We’ve had a change of plans with our homestay. We stayed with Sra Francia for two nights and three days and we really really liked her. On the second night, her daughter came into town and had dinner with us. We talked with her for a long time after dinner: we really liked her a lot too. The food was great, we felt fairly comfortable in the house. There was just one problem…we couldn’t sleep at all. For one thing, Sra Francia has a rooster. Lots of people have roosters in Central America and they have become our sworn enemies. Based on what I knew from movies and TV shows, I thought that roosters merely crowed once or twice when the sun came up, and then they stopped because they had woken up the farmer and their job was done. I don’t know why I thought this….my aunt Marta had chickens when I was little so I should have known better…maybe I had blocked out the reality of roosters. They don’t crow once or twice in the morning…they crow all the freaking time. All morning, all day… any time the sun is up, they crow. And Sra Francia’s rooster seemed to have been confused because he didn’t know that he was supposed to start crowing when the sun came up….he crowed all night long. Right outside our window. We have never hated an animal so much in our lives.
But the rooster isn’t the only nuisance at Sra Francia’s. She also has a dog. We’ve realized that here in Central American countries, a lot of people have outside dogs that are tied up in the front of the house. These are mainly for protection: they are guard dogs. They bark when someone is near the house. Since their purpose is security, people like for them to bark when someone walks by. They aren’t discouraged from barking. (Mom you can stop reading if this is too hard for you…I know that people who don’t keep their dogs from barking are your worst nightmare). So, dogs bark around here a lot. Sra. Francia’s dog was no different.If it had only been for the rooster and the dog, Scott and I may have sucked it up. But, there was one more factor that put us over the edge. Attached to Sra Francia’s house is a small apartment that she rents to a family with….a small baby. This baby just so happened to cry all night long. Its window was close to ours and it sounded like it was in the same room with us. The combination of baby crying, rooster singing and dog barking was enough to drive us completely crazy. We both were walking around like zombies during the day because we were so tired.If we were just here in Boquete hanging out and doing whatever we wanted all day, we maybe would have stayed with Sra Francia and just dealt with the sleeping situation. But, because we are in school for 4 hours a day, and because we are paying a good amount of money for this school, we knew that we needed to get rest so that we could actually stay awake during class, and pay attention, and retain the information we were learning. So, with some hestiation, we talked to the school about the situation. They were wonderful. They completely agreed that this was not a good situation for us because we were in school, and they found us a new family right away. They talked to Sra Francia and explained everything (which we also did, but since we had to speak in Spanish, we weren’t quite sure that we communicated everything that we wanted to….it was nice to know that she had heard it from them too). So, the switch to a new family went really smoothly and we LOVE our new family. It’s a mom and a dad with two teenage boys: Guillermo, 18, and Alejandro, 15. The dad is so friendly and sweet and energic and loves to talk with us and help us with our spanish. The mom is much more reserved, but she’s also sweet and makes us feel at home. We feel more comfortable in this home….I think because there are more people around and so all of the attention is not always on us. Sra. Francia was a little hover-y because we were the only ones in the house. We really like the food that Rita (the mom) makes for us, and, most importantly, we sleep like a dream here.Our second night in our new home was fun because it was Alejandro’s birthday, so we got to be a part of his birthday party. Family members came over, and we had a big dinner and birthday cake. Their birthday traditions are very similiar to ours: they light candles on the cake and sing happy birthday. And the weird part is, they sing the exact same song as we do…in english. We couldn’t believe it…we could sing along with them! After singing the english verse, they sing another verse in spanish.
Tuesday was a Panamanian holiday, so we didn’t have class. We hiked to a waterfall outside of town. It was the most beautiful hike.IMG_5000      




We both just love it here in Boquete. It is my favorite place we’ve been to so far. It is unbelievably gorgeous, the people are nice, the town is laid back, the weather is great. We’re so glad that we’re staying here for a little while…Cassie



5 Responses to “the value of sleep…”

  1. Laurie Says:

    Well Halleluiah!!!! Sounds like all has finally fallen into place for you two. And it only took a month. Yes, Cassie, the story about the barking dog was quite hard for me to take. But then I figured it all out. The stupid rooster is waking the baby and when the baby cries the dog barks. It’s a vicious cycle. If you find yourself in this situation again – kill the rooster. I think I would’ve done that the first night anyway. Does she have chickens or just a rooster? A rooster without chickens is just a noise maker. He serves no purpose. But, I digress. Glad you two have found a place you love so much. And how wonderful the family sounds. I love that you got to celebrate a birthday with them and be with the extended family. I know how much the two of you enjoyed that!! And a hike to a waterfall . . . our favorite hikes were always to waterfalls when you were little. Jen, Ken and I were discussing that as we were wheezing our way up Pinnacle Mountain last weekend, that our hikes in the Smokies always involved a waterfall. We were afraid the hike up Pinnacle was going to involve just a fall, no water. Again, digressing. So, you don’t have to worry about a rooster or crying baby here. I’m afraid we are all stuck with the dog, but he’s pretty quiet. Your brother on the other hand, he’s a noisy one. As always, love your updates. Miss you much. Love you bunches. Mom

  2. Matt Says:

    I felt like that whole sleep sequence was straight from the Baudelaire orphans.

  3. Ken Says:

    Cassie and Scott,
    Thought you may enjoy this “silence the rooster” game.
    Perhaps this will prevent future therapy for both of you.
    Please Don’t be a chickens, try it! I hope it plucks any fowl feelings that may linger in the henhouses of your subconscious barnyards!

  4. Laurie Says:

    Hey! Did you just add these pictures? I don’t remember seeing them when I read it before? Or did I see them and just forgot? Oh well, such is the story of my life!

  5. Julie V Says:

    Yay for a new house! Sounds wonderful. Oh man, if there are two people in the whole world who keep getting stuck in sucky sleeping situations, it would be you two!!!

    And why did we have to learn feliz cumpleanos in spanish class if they sing happy birthday in english?! grr!

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