Advice on travel
Could anyone offer me any advice on travel to Spanish speaking countries? I'm actually considering taking a trip to Colombia, Peru, and or Argentina. I have never been to any countries in Latin America. I consider myself to be a beginnning learner but have been spending a great deal of time learning here and elsewhere. Specifically, how much Spanish does one need to know to travel alone to these places? Any advice is greatly appreciated.
try posting your question on the forums of the places you want to visit on www.tripadvisor.com. this is the most useful site I have come across when wanting information and advice on travel. your questions get answered quickly too.
I agree that it depends on where you go in the country that you plan to visit, but keep in mind that countries like Mexico see a lot more tourism than Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Furthermore, Mexico borders a huge English speaking country (The US...). The others, don't. Therefore, while there are people that speak English in these countries you'd like to visit, they aren't going to always be the people you want to speak English. For example... waitors, taxi drivers, hotel clerks, etc. Most likely anyone filling a middle to low class job won't speak a lot of English. With that said, all of these countries have travel agencies that have staff that speak English and can help you get where you need to go.
I live in Arequipa, Peru and when we moved here we knew only the present tense of Spanish and a very limited vocabulary. We were able to get around... but at times it was interesting trying to figure out what we asked the taxi driver or what we were eating. My family recently traveled through Brazil, Argentina, and Peru and they didn't know a lick of Spanish... except maybe "Donde está el baño?" You can do it, just don't let your expectations be that you'll find 15% or more English speaking people. And, seek good advice for safety reasons. I know its 2009, but there's still a significant amount of corruption in these countries.
If you'd like to talk more, I can certainly help with Peru... email me at Scott@soarchrist.com.
The amount of Spanish you need to know varies with the type of trip you are planning on taking. Last year, we traveled to Mexico two separate times. Since these are resort areas, most of the people you come in contact with speak English. The only time that Spanish was absolutely necessary was with a few of the taxi drivers. In those cases, we only needed to explain where we wanted to go and our room number for security reasons at the front gate of the hotel. However, in June, we traveled to the Dominican Republic to do missionary work. In this case, very few people spoke English. We needed to speak enough to communicate our needs wherever we went and also to minister to the people in the area. In addition, we ran into difficulties at the airport with security. If it wasn't for learning enough Spanish on Spanishdict.com, we could have run into some real difficulties. The bottom line- it depends what section of a country you are going to and what your purpose for going is. Hope this helps.