This is the third post in a series that will follow Matt and Brayde Willson’s motorcycle journey from Seattle to Tierra del Fuego over 120 days.
More important than wrenches, spare parts, waterproof bags, or GPS units, COMMUNICATION is going be the most used tool during our trip through South America. Without knowing the language, you’re put at a huge disadvantage, especially when you get into situations that require negotiating, asking directions, or dealing with emergencies.
The last time we were in Mexico, we realized our Spanish skills were adequate for basic conversation. We were fine with ordering food, and reading road signs, but if we were pulled over by police, stopped at a checkpoint, or had to get repairs done, we would’ve been in trouble. We were prompted us to start researching local Spanish language course options that would be compatible with our busy work schedules.
After much online searching, we found a great fit in the Seattle area. We decided to take 2-3 months of weekly classes with Marta from The Spanish Language Café. Marta’s method emphasizes conversational use of language, always prompting us to speak Spanish, and participate in dialogue. I think she’s as excited about our trip as we are, and she has made it a point to teach us how they say things differently in the various countries we’ll be traveling in. This 1-on-1 attention is a definite bonus. After one month of classes, we noticed our vocabulary and comfort level growing and we were excited to continue for another month or two.
Classes typically cost about $150 per person for a one-month session, including the book. For the two of us, this ends up using a significant portion of our budget, but in the long run, language skills should prove to be invaluable along our route to Tierra del Fuego. In fact, having stronger Spanish skills might even save us money along the way with price negotiations and more efficiently finding the good deals and places to stay.
About the authors: Matt Willson is the product line manager at Touratech-USA. He’s been with the company for 5 years and has been riding motorcycles longer then he can remember. Matt’s wife, Brayde spent her life around motorcycles and the two have been riding together as long as they’ve been together. Brayde rides a 2007 BMW F650GS and Matt rides a 2006 BMW R1200GS