Awesome travel backpack I saw at the store.  Complete with a flashlight and stuffed tiger.  Everything you need.  Almost bought it.

It’s been about 5 months since I’ve last posted about my travel plans.  At the time, I was thinking I’d head to South America at the end of September, maybe Bogota or Buenos Aeries, or both: Getting my Travel Mojo Back

I also posted about my 6-month plan for learning Spanish: How I am Going to Learn Spanish in 6 Months

First, I’ll talk about travel plans.

I’m very set on going to South America for 6 months, but I’m thinking of posting up in Medellin, Colombia or Mendoza, Argentina.  I was considering riding a motorcycle down, but that’s not happening.  Too much prep, and takes too long.  Also, my Spanish isn’t where I want it to be for an adventure like that.

I’m not going to leave until the first or second week in November.  I’ve got a tour through the Southern USA with my good friend John (who I traveled in Europe with) set up for the last two weeks in October.  We’re visiting: Miami, Savannah, Atlanta, Nashville, Birmingham, (Mobile) and New Orleans.  After, I’m flying down to South America.

Still planning on doing 6 months in South America, but I’d like to do less backpacking, and more living.  My business is still not as automated as I want it, so I can imagine I’ll need a place with reliable internet to continue working on everything.  Of course I’ll still be doing some side trips around South America here and there as well.  My little brother is currently studying in Sweden until June of 2013, so I’m still planning on leaving South America in May and flying up to Sweden to hang out with him, and spend the summer somewhere around there (Europe).

I’ve switched my socks, underwear, workout shorts and workout shirts to wool.  I have nothing but good things to say about wool clothes, especially for traveling.  More about my travel gear in another post.

5-Month Spanish Progress Report

I’m not even close to fluent.  But I guess that was to be expected.  However, I’m much more comfortable in a conversation.  I understand a lot more than when I started, however I’ve still got A LOT to learn.

What I’ve learned through this process is that there is MUCH more to learning a language than just vocab and verb conjugations.  So many phrases don’t translate exactly.  Spanish is such a different way of speaking than English is.  The most helpful things (in order of most helpful) have been:

  1. My 4x/week Skype Spanish tutor.  I’ve found that having conversations with her is the best way to drive in all the vocab, conjugations and grammar that I’ve been learning.  Also, having a real, living tutor that I pre-paid for a bunch of lessons really forces me to follow through and continue having the lessons each and every day.  She holds me accountable!
  2. Weekly Spanish Meet-Ups.  There are two meetup groups that I go to each week here in Portland.  Both have people with varying levels of skill, but there is always someone much more fluent than I to help teach me.  Again, I’ve also found the best way to REALLY learn the language is to practice actually using it.
  3. Spanish flashcards.  I use the program “Memory Lifter” and created a bunch of custom cards.  Its insanely boring, but helps increase my vocab/verb tenses.  I definitely need to use the vocab in conversation to really remember it though.
  4. Watching Spanish TV/Movies.  Its tough because it’s sometimes really hard to follow.  It helps when there are subtitles/CC in Spanish as well.  This is something I do more just for fun and to get a little bit more practice.
  5. I didn’t switch my phone/computer to Spanish because it was too annoying.

I figure that my Spanish comprehension will skyrocket once I arrive in South America, but I’m still trying to cram every last bit I can before leaving.  My plan is to continue taking Spanish lessons while there as well.

What I’ve Been Doing the Last 5 Months

The time seems to have flown by, even though I’ve done a ton.  I took trips to Arizona, California, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Boston and New York.  I went to two awesome music festivals (Sasquatch and Stagecoach), went skydiving again, and went on a lot of smaller adventures up here in the Pacific Northwest.  I’ve definitely enjoyed my time being settled down in one place, but also feeling the itch for something more adventurous.  More about my experiences as a non-nomad in another post.

…Part 4 of the Finding/Buying Aged/Neglected Websites series coming up!