26.10.16 – Spanishless in Miami

I have some Spanish.

I was dating a woman once who was going to the Dominican republic to teach, and there was conversation about be going to live in the DR with her, so I learned Spanish properly.

I enjoy Spanish.

I find that the Spanish are much more forgiving with their language than the French. I find that I can fill a sentence with verbs and nouns and the Spanish will do their very best to understand it, respond to me, and even help me by correcting the sentence. However I find that when I speak French, I can get 99% of the sentence correct, but because I have conjugated the sentence incorrectly, the only response that I hear is “Je ne comprends pas”. For this reason I am encouraged to speak Spanish more.

However, I am not one of those people who can flip an internal switch and suddenly recount all the Spanish / French that I have learned in my years. I have to listen to MP3s, listen to the news in the language, read comics in the language and then finally, then I get to the country, I have to watch and listen to TV and radio ads before it comes back.

So I found myself in an odd situation back in June.

I was going to a conference where my paper had been selected as one to be presented, by me, in Haiti.

Because I knew I was going to Haiti, I brushed up on my French, and by the time I was ready to go, I felt confident enough to understand what was going on, and maybe even respond.

In order to get to Haiti from Australia you to from Melbourne to LAX, LAX to Miami and Miami to Port au Prince.

I was meeting a friend in Miami and we were going to travel down to Haiti together, so that was my focus for this part of the journey.

I was not until I got off the plane in Miami that I realised, that I had not practiced and Spanish.

I was Spanishless in Miami.

Now for those of you that do not know what this means, I will recount a joke/warning that the bus driver told me on the way to my hotel.

There was a cat who moved from up north, down to Miami.

The cat was hungry and went in search of catching a Miami mouse.

The cat saw a mouse and chased it into a hole

The cat stayed outside the hole for days waiting for the mouse, but the mouse safe inside the hole.

Try as it might, it could not catch a mouse, to the point that it was getting week with the hunger.

Then one day, the mouse heard barking outside the hole.

The mouse was reassured that the dog will have scarred away the cat, so he confidently emerged.

As soon as the mouse emerged it was caught by the cat, who was so hungry it was about to eat the mouse.

The Mouse said “Wait, before you eat me, I have to know where did the dog go?”

The cat replied, there was never any dog, I called my cousin in Cuba and told her that I was starving here in Miami, and she told me that: If I want to eat, I have to learn a second language.”

Fortunately my time in Miami was limited and I was with a person who was confident with their Spanish, however my experience in Miami was diminished by not revising my Spanish.

Even talking to hotel staff, they, I was spoken to in Spanish first, before the embarrassed look on my face made the accommodating staff switch to English.

Looking back, it amazes me that, when I was younger, I managed to live and work in Miami in two batches for six months without noticing how essential it was to speak Spanish.

Admittedly I was living in a Hotel, but it does say something about a less observant younger me.


~ by jeditopcat on 30 October, 2016.

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