Do you know those people who are confidant, spontaneous and willing to try anything? The same ones who will pick up at a moments notice and go anywhere? The ones who feel comfortable speaking in a foreign language even if they don’t know it? I’m not one of those people. I love to travel, but I don’t get to travel as much as I’d like. I feel intimadated speaking other languages. What I liked about Grammar Lessons: Translating a Life in Spain, in addition to the wonderful prose, was the fact that Michele Morano was not one of those care-free travelers. She did move to Spain for a year and obviously travels much more than I do, but it’s not neccessarily easy for her. I thought while I was reading it, this could be me!
Travel, for me, is always about lessons, about learning what can’t be taught in the classroom. Travel is about observing, interacting, ingesting; it’s about making oneself vulnerable in new contexts and then, afterwards, through a combination of memory and imagination, coming to a place of insight.
The first part of Morano’s collection of essays on traveling and language begins with her experiences when she spent a year in the town of Oviedo, Spain teaching English and learning Spanish. As with any good travel book she makes you fall in love with the place. Spain has never been one of my top ten travel destinations, but Morano really captures the people and the culture. I’m not sure if I will ever make it there, but I’m glad to have shared her experiences because she is such an endearing traveler. Oh, and did I mention how she flawlessly weaves in her own story of her relationship with her depressed boyfriend – the one she left behind for a year to help their relationship. I highly recommend this book and I think it will be my last one for the Armchair Traveler Challenge.