This was the final day of classroom instruction at the driving school, and am I glad. It means I don’t have to set the alarm to wake up any more. I usually wake up around the time the classes started: 8:30 a.m.
I didn’t do too bad today. Enough of the first and second day’s Spanish must have leaked out during the night because I was able to follow most of what was going on today. We talked about road conditions, signs, road markings, stopping distances and speed limits. That sort of thing. I’ve always said my big problem with Spanish comes in “hearing” it, and today was no exception. Aldo, the instructor, kept saying a word that sounded like “casada” which means “married” in Spanish. It made no sense in the context of the subject we were talking about at the time. What could married possibly have to do with road conditions? Perhaps the Spanish language uses “married” as something to do with where the rubber meets the road? Then he wrote down the word, “La calzada” which means, “the road.” Calzada, not calle or avenida, or routa. And perhaps it’s a Chiricano (those who live in Chiriqui province) accent thing where the “L” is glossed over so it pretty much sounds like Casada.
With the calzada/casada mystery cleared up it felt pretty good to actually be able to contribute to the class for the first time. Aldo, knowing of my language deficiency avoided asking me direct questions yesterday, which I appreciated. At the end of class we were given two short tests which were sort of “open book.” The second one which was about first aid was read to us by Aldo and he told us what the correct multiple guess answers were. These tests, along with the diplomas the school made up for us with our pictures on them, will be sent to the ATTT (Autoridad de Transito y Transporte Terrestre) office in Panama City to be duly okie-dokied. It takes 15 working days to do this. So that gives me three weeks to study for the test. You have to present the diploma in order to be able to take the test.
I have one more day of school left, though. It’s the practical part where I get to ride around on a scooter for 5 hours. I have to be at the school at 2 p.m. They also will provide a scooter, for a fee, for me to take my test on.
I do want to say this about Aldo whose school it is. He is grossly overweight. Sweats through the class while the students shiver because of the air conditioning. My guess is he’s in his mid to late 30s. And he’s a good teacher, too. His lectures are four hours long, non-stop without notes. Of course he told me he’s been doing this for 13 years so that has given him plenty of time to get it together. He keeps constant eye-contact with each of the students throughout the four hours and addresses parts of his lecture as though he’s talking to just that student and no one else if you’re on the receiving end. He has good skills.
I’ll keep you informed of the progress.