I had been in Latin America four months. Thats four months of battling in spanglish. By the time I reached Nicaragua I decided that the more Spanish I learnt, the more I wanted to learn. So instead of zooming around checking out the sights I would spend a week in Copan at Ixbalanque Spanish School, which had good reviews online.
It's a funny place. The town feels like its built for tourism, except I felt like I was the only tourist. The town was also tiny, and I reckon in my time there I would have walked it a thousand times. The locals were extra friendly too, I got smiles and hellos wherever I went. My favourite local was Azgad, the guy who owned Andrea's Ice, an icecream shop named after his daughter. He probably wondered why twice a day a ginger gringo would pop in. I was obsessed. And he was amused.
I was incredibly lucky with the homestay I was given. I stayed with Accountant Louis, his wife Lourdes and their son Kevin. Lourdes was literally the best cook in Latin America and my favourite time of the day was breakfast, lunch and dinner with Lourdes. At every meal, she would sit with me and we would have conversations in spanish and I know this definitely contributed to how much I learnt. Her dream one day is to run a bed and breakfast - and if she does, I will be back!
In the one week of Spanish lessons at Ixbalanque I picked up more Spanish than I actually thought was possible. My teacher Anna was amazing. We spoke no English, so I had to struggle along in Spanish all morning. It was great and by lunch my brain was fried! I only wish I had longer there!
If I was to recommend anything to someone travelling through Latin America, I would recommend Spanish lessons and a homestay. For me Copan Ruinas was perfect. Yeah it was probably twice as expensive as Guatemala (I paid $250 total for the week) but this really was such value for money. I was so sad to leave after my time there was up but I was so impressed with the Spanish I had learnt. Even my English was getting a bit shaky.