Saturday, 19 June 2010

Five Notable Mishaps in My Language-Learning Ventures

1)Beto, on my tendency to forget gendered articles: “Rose, you can't ever forget that here, objects always have sex. In the United States, they usually don't.”
2)Last weekend I went to Maeva, an inexpensive beach resort in the town of Manzanillo. The waves there are apparently great for surfing, which makes the otherwise unremarkable town a tourist destination for many Americans and Europeans. The signs at Maeva, like most of the other attractions in Manzanillo, were translated into English. Here are the rules for the waterslide: “One at the time,” “no upside down your head,” and “no value stuff." (I figured out from the Spanish sign that this last one was trying to warn against wearing your sunglasses on the slide).
3)After my impromptu samba lesson at Casa Amiga, I couldn't stop sweating. I exclaimed “estoy caliente!” which means “I am hot.” Apparently, caliente does mean hot - when you're describing a climate, a shower, or anything but yourself. When you use it to describe yourself, it is slang for "interested in having sex."
4)When trying to give directions to someone who was giving me a ride, I couldn't understand why he didn't know the famous landmark of the big yellow sculpture. Turns out I was telling him to drive to the big yellow artist.
5)And the finale. At the Mexican dollar store (it's called the “one price store,” which really just isn't as catchy) I decided to stock up on food for my impending stay alone in the hacienda. There are lots of fun flavors of yogurt here that don't exist in the United States. I always try to opt for food that's exclusive to Mexico when I have the option, so I decided to try some. I was particularly skeptical about raisin flavored drinkable yogurt, but I put one bottle into the cart along with some apple- and mango-flavored bottles. That night at Casa Amiga, I went into the living room to announce that I was trying a new flavor that we don't have in the united states. (People here tend to find these differences interesting, and I like to be commended for my bravery). I showed everyone my raisin-flavored yogurt. It tasted a little funny, so I decided to look up the full name of the flavor, “ciruela pasa.” Pasa means raisin, but I didn't know about this ciruela fruit. Maybe it was something unique to Mexico, like tamarind or guayaba? Turns out that it means plum, and here, prunes are literally called “plum raisins,” so the flavor, in fact, was prune. Taking a second look at the diagram on the bottle that I had thought was of a person losing weight from a healthy diet of low-fat yogurt, I realized that it was in fact a deflating intestine. I had bought a liquid for bowel regularity and shown it off to about ten people.
On the bright side, yesterday I successfully ordered a sandwich at subway in Spanish. Baby steps, I suppose.

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