Category Archives: Languages

Outdoor Education Pura Vida Style – Twelve Ways to Make Your Kids Smile in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is an awesome place to take kids.  Sometimes, finding the right balance between what adults enjoy and what kids enjoy can be a challenge on a family vacation.  Our family vacation to Costa Rica was the right mix of fun and adventure.  It was also a great educational experience in the best outdoor class room ever.   Without my eight-year old son even knowing it, he was learning about conservation, alternative energy sources and botany all with Spanish sub-titles.  We travelled this small country in a rented car; from the capital of San José, to the shy volcano of Arenal, to the cloud forests of Monteverde to the monkeys of Manuel Antonio.

If you are planning on going to Costa Rica with kids, here are the twelve things that made my son smile from ear to ear.

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Can You Teach Yourself Vietnamese?

Here I go, talking to myself again.  No, I’m not schizophrenic, I am learning a new language.  This time, it is Vietnamese, my first Asian language.  Sadly, although San Francisco is home to over 13,000 people of Vietnamese descent, the 11th highest number in the United States, I was unable to find a single Vietnamese language school.  The only school I could find was the Au Co Vietnamese Cultural Center which offers Vietnamese language classes for kids between the ages of 5 and 12.  I don’t think being a kid at heart would qualify me.  Sigh.

Without a class or a tutor, I am learning Vietnamese exclusively through on-line or pre-recorded language programs.  I am using Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, Duolingo and Mondly.  I will give you a summary of each program along with what I think are the pros and cons of each.

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Adventure in Fluency’s Calendars for 2018: Croatia, Greece, Thailand and new for 2018, The Caribbean

New for 2018 – Adventures in Fluency’s Caribbean Calendar

Just in time for 2018, we have added five calendars that are now available for purchase.  Just visit our Adventures in Fluency store to buy yours today.  These calendars feature beautiful photographs from our trips to Croatia, Greece, Thailand and the Caribbean.  Claudia Rodriguez, my daughter, and Frank Sandoval, my husband, are the talented photographers.  Where will your adventure in fluency be in 2018?  Let these calendars inspire you and my blog be your guide.

Life is an adventure, not a destination.

What Learning Vietnamese Can Teach You about San Francisco

My trip to Vietnam in December of 2017 is now booked, kicking into high gear my motivation to learn Vietnamese.  With just three short months left to learn this completely new language, I find the task to be a bit daunting.  Unlike Spanish or French or Greek, Vietnamese is completely unconnected to anything I know.   I dive in and try several different language programs and on-line applications.   However, I think my favorite part about learning a new language is what it teaches me about how it connects to San Francisco.  Learning Vietnamese has given me an opportunity to learn and connect more with the vibrant Vietnamese community living in my beautiful city by the Bay.

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Books, Ballet and Bajaderas in Zagreb

The interior of the theater glows golden like a giant bee hive as each honey comb fills up with patrons buzzing with excitement.  We are seated in plush red velvet chairs in our little partitioned box, just one honeycomb in the three rows of box seats that encircle and rise above the orchestra seating of the Croatian National Theater in Zagreb.  Known as HNK (Hrvatsko Narodno Kazalište), the interior of the theater is lavishly decorated in red and gold.  A golden chandelier dangles from the center like a delicate jewel on a queen’s necklace.  Claudia and I move our chairs to the edge to take in the old world beauty of the decor.

The theater was designed by Viennese architects Ferdinand Fellner and Herman Helmer, the same architects that built the opera house in Vienna.   The theater first opened in Zagreb on  October 14, 1895.  Today, on the Fourth of July, Claudia and I wait to watch Petar Pan, a ballet by Giorgio Madia, that will be performed by the Ballet of the Croatian National Theater.   The ballet premiered at HNK just five days earlier.

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Lauren’s Lessons from Milan

Travel Inspiration

Recently, I spent two days in London solo.  I was surprised how much anxiety this leg of my trip caused me.  The thought of spending two entire days alone terrified me.  How would I dine by myself?  Who would I talk to?  What if I got lost?  I have no problem being the travel leader for my family or my daughter. However, the idea of being alone terrified me.

I learn that Lauren, a lovely young woman in my ballet class, had actually, voluntarily traveled and stayed in Milan all by herself for two whole week.  I decided to interview her to learn about her favs, her fears and her lesson from Milan.

Living Vicariously Through Travel Stories

To begin our interview, Lauren, Samantha and I pull up a couple of bar stools in the Myriad, an industrial market hall with indoor food stalls in San Francisco.  Samantha is a fellow ballerina and eager to hear Lauren’s travel tales.

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Crashing the Salsa Festival in Rovinj

Rovinj, the Emerald City

As we wind towards Istria from Plitviče, we enter the high speed toll road and race through a series of tunnels to emerge in Istria.  We enter a beautiful countryside of green hills and field lined with flowers.  Everything is so green.  The villages of stone houses topped with red  roofs dot the countryside along the road.  From Plitviče Lakes National Park to the Istrian Peninsula of Croatia is a easy and pleasant three hour drive.

Our destination for the sixth stop on our tour of Croatia is Rovinj, a town located on the Istrian Peninsula.  Istria is the Italian influenced area of Croatia.  We immediately notice that all of the signs in Rovinj are in Croatian and Italian.  Even the Croatian we hear spoken has an Italian lilt to it.  Rovinj is a short three hour ferry ride across the Adriatic from Venice.  Rovnj has an old town and a harbor just like all of the other towns in Croatia that we visited except Rovinj feels substantially greener.  Trees shade the street and flowers are blooming everywhere.

We check into Villa Kristina, a quaint bed and breakfast just a five minute walk from the old town.  After check in, we find the absolute best restaurant in the absolute best location in Rovinj.  The Restoran Stella di Mare is located on the edge of the sea just far enough around the bend of the port to provide a cool breeze and a spectacular view.   Our waiter, a large gregarious man, is very happy when we order in Croatian. When we explain that we are mother and daughter, he grabs a young man who is also waiting tables and introduces him as his son.  He gives us a Croatian lesson.  Meanwhile his son shows us photographs of Rovinj during last winter when it was covered with an unusual snowfall.  By the time we leave, we feel as if we have been embraced as part of the family.

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