If someone tells you to learn Spanish before you travel in Central America then listen up.
I was told that on my first visit. I did a week in school in Antigua, Guatemala then promptly forgot it all when I met a fluent speaker and we toured together. She did language, I looked after the finances and worked out transport logistics.
If it's possible to just about get by on a trip, it is impossible to be an independent,expat, non-Spanish speaker. As I write I have just returned from the ATM. I gave up - unlike Vietnam the instructions are in one language only.
My mobile phone, bought with the assistance of a Spanish speaking friend, lies unused because I can't work out how to put credit on it.
Go to a restaurant, even one aimed at tourists and the chances are the menus are only in Spanish and the waiters do not speak English.
In so many ways it is actually quite refreshing. It's no bad thing that the onus is on the gringos to conform to the local language.
But I'm embarrassed already to be continually asking people to help out, make calls for me and generally spoon feed me.
I'd planned to stall the Spanish lessons until my girlfriend arrives in a little under a month so we can learn together at a cheaper rate. I may have to have a rethink.
One thing is certain - not speaking Spanish in this town is very very uncool.
Not making the effort to learn is deemed most shameful of all.
I shall be aiming to put that right very soon.