So, as previously mentioned, at five hours a day, plus living with a Mexican family, I should be fluent in no time, yes?
Oh reality, you are a harsh mistress.
My initial thoughts were: sure, I’ll have some problems at the start, but they’ll be easily overcome with the help of my teachers (Maestros). Problems like “oh dear me, I said ‘le’ instead of ‘la’. Ha ha, yes, that’s a silly mistake” <clink of glasses as we jest in Español>.
This is week 2. Reality has set in. This is a lot of work.
Verbos Infinitivos. Reflexivos. Palabras Interrogativas. If you put a gun to my head and demanded that I conjugate the verb “to go” (Ir), I’m pretty sure you’d end up calling for a clean-up on isle 12.
However, there are some bright spots:
- I can order food at local restaurants with a minimum amount of confusion and wild gesticulating involved.
- I can understand about 12% of what my teachers are saying during class, and my questions have dropped from 1 per second to about 1 per 4 minutes. Much to the relief of the Maestros.
- The scowl of concentration for 5 hours per day has left some lovely deep furrows on my brow. I think it makes me more distinguished.
Meanwhile, living with a family has yielded some unexpected opportunities for practicing Spanish. For example, once a week the mother comes in and cleans rooms while the students are away. This happened the other day, and when I came back from class I was unable to find Meebus.
Imagine trying to construct a well formed sentence that runs a balance between thanking someone for cleaning your room without you even asking, while also politely inquiring if they happen to have found a stuffed monkey and perhaps, maybe, assumed it belonged to one of the kids in the family, thus it ended up in an upstairs toybox? Perhaps? Maybe?
The best I came up with is: “gracias por limpiar mi habitación. ¿Por casualidad para descubrir un chango de juguete mientras se limpia?” For someone who can only really retain a single verb at a time, this proved to be too much to hold stable in my head. So I shortened it to:
“Gracias por la limpieza”
“¿Encontraste un chango de juguete?”
Both of these might be possible to contain in my head for the trip upstairs, so I recited them over and over on my way up. Before I knocked on the door though, I panicked. What if I’m accidentally being very rude? Maybe I should wait until breakfast when the other students who’s Spanish is FAR superior to mine can help straighten out any faux pas I make? Maybe it’s best just to let Meebus live his new life? Maybe he’s happier here. What kind of future does he have to look forward to with me after all, dangling by a clip from my backpack, being posed for inane pictures, packed into pockets, forced to beg for space change when the money runs out?
I went back to my room, defeated. Before going to bed I looked through a few pictures of Meebus, remembering the good times.
Then, when packing up my clothes to take to the laundy, I found Meebus squatting in the bottom of my backpack. My bad. Glad that I chickened out at the door, no idea HOW I would have explained that I was sorry for falsely accusing anyone of stealing my toy monkey, and it was in fact my fault the entire time.
Meebus: I blame you. Stay put, you wayward Monkey.