Posts Tagged ‘Spanish’

Teaser image

Lost Language Department – Up The Stairs

It’s been sort of a rough week for my head. It seems as though I’m not only losing my English but simultaneously sucking at Spanish. I guess the English started slipping over time and with such immersion, it’s only a matter of time before the grammar starts to go. According to my dad, my blogs are getting sloppier and sloppier. I now speak no language well.

Last week when I spent the afternoon at an estancia with my job, assisting Canadian tourists, I could see how my English was exaggerated and forced. It seemed like I was subconsciously speaking with a slight Spanish accent. But why?

How I Learned to Shut Up and Listen

I sat at a table of no fewer than fifteen people on the street Pio Nono, entry to Bellavista, the down-home party section of Santiago, Chile. I’d been invited to go out for a beer after the monthly critical mass bike ride, and we stacked our bikes tidily (handlebars to rear wheel) against a nearby tree and set to the matter at hand. We sat at a long series of card tables extending down the street, each of us perched on one of those ubiquitous white plastic chairs, serving ourselves beer into small glasses from the liter bottles of Escudo on the center of the tables. Some, drinkers of fan-schop (a Chilean specialty), mixed theirs with Fanta. I drank mine plain, and listened.

I arrived to Chile in 2004, with way more than a passing knowledge of Spanish. Between high school and a couple of travel and study stints in the mundo hispanohablante (Spanish-speaking world), I could express myself fairly well, if not cleverly. Hadn’t I explained the electoral college to a group of teachers in Antigua, Guatemala in the 90s? Wasn’t it me who grabbed other travelers by the hand to take them to the post office, the bus station, to get their hair cut? I enjoyed helping, expressing, being in charge. I could get you a seat on the bus, a doorstop, tape to fix a book – you name it. I could ask for it directly or circumlocute it. I spoke, and people understood. At the time, I felt that this was the only necessary linguistic accomplishment. You, listen to me. And then it was over.

  • The Guy: I think Dave and Jodi raise some very valid points and they are consistent with my perceptions based on over...
  • Jay Daviot: Epic list! There are some great blogs there. Would love to see a few more blogs from photographers though...
  • John: I’ve always wanted to hitch hike across the USA.
  • Sara Wikoff: I found your post very interesting. I am just a Freshman in college and I have not decided my major yet....
  • John: Great advice, I always buy charcoal tabs in case I get an upset tummy.
  • Recently Featured Travel Blogs

    • A Girl and Her Thumb

      The thumb. A very useful part of the anatomy, especially when you decide to head out into the world, hitchhike and use other modes of transportation. For Jo Magpie, it (both actually) have served her well in her travels – always heading east. She’s once again on the move. Yup, east.

    • Home and Away

      Naomi, David and their two sons are ‘on a slow roam around the world’. Though both successful, David didn’t want his children to view him as the dad who was always working. So, with the business and house sold, possessions relocated – the four set off to explore. Their style of travel allows them to live/work in comfort while spending quality time with Lucas and Easy (Ezekiel).

    • Kiwi Blog Bus

      In 2008, the Annison family moved from the UK to New Zealand and bought a boat. In 2010, they upgraded to a camper van to explore the country. Though the cats stay home to help the elder son with the yard work and house, the remainder of the family (including the dogs) traverse the open roads of Kiwidom, searching for hidden treasures.

    • More of the best travel blogs