The whole point of spending my time here in Arequipa is to learn Spanish so that I will be able to communicate and do my job effectively here in Peru. I have been attending a language institute here that is called ABC and it is run by some very fine Peruvian Christians.
For the first few months I hardly said a word and did a lot of listening. Then bit by bit, like a giant jigsaw puzzle, I began to pick up words here and then. More of more pieces started coming together as I learned how to say things in the past, present, and future tenses. I know for a fact that I will never stop learning more and more vocabulary, but most of the basic words and verbs I do know. I would say at the moment my level would be comparable to the Spanish level of the daughter of my grammar teacher... I'll let you figure out what level that is.
However, I am enjoying having the ability to communicate more and more. I already see how some things are expressed better in Spanish and if I have the choice, I would us the Spanish word instead of English. For example, the verb "conocer" means to know something physically (knowing something mentally is "saber", a different verb). There are a number of ways to say "concer" in the past tense and depending on which one you use, it can mean "you met someone for the first time ever" or it can mean "you already knew that person". Needless to say, it keeps me on my toes.
Right now it looks as though I will be finishing up with my classes here sometime in March. I am still learning more grammar and have to finish learning about the "subjunctive" tense which is used in Spanish to express desires, doubts, feelings, and things like that. I told my Spanish teacher that I am a guy and don't have feelings but she said I still needed to learn the "subjunctive" anyways... I still think it's unnecessary because my friend Todd and I wore this get-up for New Years and still did not feel anything!