Palabras y Memorias

One of the cool things about learning a new language is that I have all these little jewels of memories associated with my new vocabulary. Por ejamplo, I learned the word for “horse” from listening to a toddler repeat, “caballo, caballo,” as a work horse trotted by on the cobblestones.

I learned “por ejamplo” thanks to my patient first teacher in Spanish. Our lessons consisted of me trying to explain my day en español. A wonderful way to learn the vocabulary that fits your life!

Sideways glances quickly taught me that “me gusta” is not the way to express that you think an individual is nice. Saying “me gusta” about a person means that you like more than their personality and that you’d like to get to know them on a much more carnal level. Much better etiquette to simply say that someone is a “buen honda,” or a good guy.

The phrase “se fue” reminds me of sitting with friends engulfed in late night, Toña filled conversation when one hombre has peeled himself away from the pack either to search for some street food, use el bano, or simply head home for the night.

I still don’t understand the literal translation of Nicaragua’s national dish Gallo Pinto. Equal amounts rice and beans, the translation is spotted rooster. The word pinto seared itself into my memory,though, as I watched an old toothless man with impossibly high cheekbones call to a spotted street dog, “Pinto, Pinto, Pinto!”

I constantly mix up the words for couple – pareja and bird – pajaro, which means that I frequently tell people I’m off to teach a yoga class to a bird. Cute imagery, right?

I spent about a week walking around telling people that I pooped myself as a way to explain why my leg hurts. Me cai – I fell, is what I should have said instead of “me caye.” A bilingual friend took pity on me and explained in english what I was telling people after a week of polite nods to the news of how I’d hurt my leg.

As my days have filled up, I’ve found it more difficult to fit in my hour-plus daily Spanish studies. I’ve progressed far enough in my learning,though, to recognize when I’ve made a mistake because it just doesn’t sound right. I can converse with strangers, read simple Spanish stories, almost understand the news, and give a decent Spanish language yoga class. I pushed my limits especially far this week by staging a local bilingual solstice celebration. I stood in front of a room filled with strangers and stated the celebration’s intention en íngles y español. I count this a success!

I don’t plan to toss my books on Spanish yet. I’ll recommit to my studies after the holidays pass, and continue to learn and improve. My hope is that I can leave a grow-up Spanish book in the next six months. By the end of next year, I’d like to be able to play the word games I love so much in Spanish. Competing in Spanish scrabble or completing a Spanish language crossword would make my day! Until then, I’ll keep studying, practicing, and giving myself permission to make lots and lots of mistakes!

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