It's amazing how quickly one can pick up a language when immersed in it, especially when the natives stick to their own tongue and don't speak English. Unlike resort areas in Mexico, where people will quickly revert to English when they see it's your language, in Pana it's pretty much all Spanish. Stores, restaurants, tourist spots-- places where you'd figure the workers would know a little English-- nope. It's Spanish or nothing.
This has been fun for me because I took quite a bit of Spanish in school and appreciate the opportunity to be forced into using it. Not so for my husband. He says, "I could never figure out how to conjugate English verbs, how can I hope to remember the Spanish ones?"
But he keeps at it, we both do. Ever heard of duolingo.com? It's a free site that takes you through a series of lessons, from beginner to proficiency. You just choose the language and get started. Of course, you can't be afraid to open your mouth and practice, even when something comes out to make the store clerk grin.
Have you ever visited a country without knowing the language? How did you manage?
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown
"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it." ~Jesse Stuart
"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf