LUCY BURDETTE: I’ve spent a lot of years of my life in school. Even so, it’s been a long time since I had to try to learn a completely new skill, complete with homework and drills and memorization. (Not counting book deadlines as homework, or classes on the finer points of writing…which hmmm, probably should count, right?) But when the Key West library offered Spanish lessons, John and I couldn’t resist signing up. Why, you might ask? We’ve always heard that learning something new is good for the rusty synapses, but that wasn’t our chief motivation. More and more people in the US speak Spanish, for one. I wanted to be able to communicate!
And for two, there have been times when some well-placed Spanish comprehension would have come in handy in our travels. Take for example the time we were in Barcelona without a word of Spanish between us other than hola. When we wanted to buy something, we were reduced to holding out handfuls of coins and hoping the shopkeepers were honest. Then there was the day we came through customs in a small town in Cuba. I emerged from the passport line with no problems, and then waited and waited for John to show up. As it turned out, he hadn’t understood what the customs agent was asking.
“Ha viajado en África durante los últimos dos años?” the man asked (or something like that.)
“Yes,” John answered cheerfully, not wishing to be seen as an uncooperative, Ugly American. If he’d understood their question: “Have you traveled in Africa in the past two years?” he would have answered No! rather than Si! And then he wouldn’t have been pulled aside and screened by a barrage of other authorities with questions about his possible exposure to ebola…
|El profesor, Edgardo|
That said, we are heading into our seventh week of class and finding it quite challenging. Even though we study a little bit every day and have a wonderful teacher (Edgardo, who hails from Puerto Rico, works at the Key West library, and also happens to be an amazing poet) and even though the old rusty brain cogs are creaking as fast as they can, French words are what come to my mind when he asks a question.
Here was one of my first assignments after Edgardo was done correcting it:
Yo soy de Nueva Jersey. Juan es mon (mi) eposo (esposo) gracioso y bello. Yo soy carto (baja) (corto and largo refere to length, not height). Juan es alto. Nosotros vivemos (vivimos) en Cayo Hueso. Yo soy psicologo y escritora. Yo escribe quince novelas de misterio. (We probably won't be able to discuss the past tense but the sentence should be "Yo he escrito quince novelas de misterio) Yoda es mi gato gris. Tonka es mi perro con pelo negro y castana (castaño). Nosotro tenemos dos muchachos (hijos?) y una nieta.
Oh holy yikes, Batman! What did I get myself into? The good news is, since I’m taking Spanish, Hayley Snow is too! You’ll see some of that surface in the 8th food critic mystery, coming in 2018.
How about you Reds, are you good students of foreign languages? Have you tried something else new lately, out of your comfort zone?