Squeezing the most out of life | An Aussie and a Colombian living life with a wandering spirit. Eight years together & over 60 countries up our sleeves, we're sharing the love |

No entiendo!

We have the same alphabet. Spanish/English, even sounds similar-ish. We all know buena vista is a good thing. Even that ‘grande’ is big. Herein lies the web of false security.

Moving to Buenos Aires, having only ever spoken English in my life, I packed a love of the Latin language and a healthy curiosity. I thought I would take some classes, immerse myself in the street life and all would be cruisy. Romantic notion disaster numero uno!

Spanish is hard. In what world is the word ‘nosotros’ at all similar to ‘we’? How is an apple a ‘manzana’? And why is meat in the realm of feminine? La Carne, Las Carnes. Why is a ‘ventilador’ (fan) male in that case? Masculino/feminino. I don’t understand (no entiendo!).

I arrived on a Monday afternoon, having cut the Andres umbilical cord and wandering my way to the school. After starting a Beginners Class with a softly spoken local Professor – Leandro. I felt slightly buzzed.

‘Hola….(insert 2 minutes of no comprehensive language), turn to pagina veinticuatro and lets play with the verbs’. ‘You had me at Hola’ sprang to mind. Like an emergency bomb threat, a ‘situation’ soon broke out. The oompa loompas arrived and I was downgraded to absolute beginner. ‘But I told you’ frothed forth.

Hence the past week of private Spanish Classes 2 hours a day, as I limp forward with painful enthusiasm I see the frown softening on the brow of El Profesor. Andres has post-it-noted the apartment with Spanish words and keen to help me practice.

Romantic notion disaster numero dos! I do not sound Latino. Aussie-English added to Spanish takes a healthy sense of humour. While finding it impossible to pronounce some sounds (Latin folk have tongue gymnastics genetically inbred) I manage to destroy some beautiful words.

But after a week, dusting off the ego, showing up to class (despite evidence of brain damage becoming rapidly apparent and generally slowing down the education process) and remembering stuff, I feel optimistic. Thinking of everything learned in one week I imagine that I may be able to unleash some conversation after a month or two of classes.

I have a deep realisation and appreciation for communication through this experience. The understanding that we are all brains on spinal cords and the only thing that humanises us thoroughly is language. Visual language. Physical and audio. I have been floating on a sea of cotton wool and now have started to see how things might come together. Less than 3 weeks here and I’m just starting to dust off the ‘don’t mess with me’ solo city walk .

The hunt for tofu was realised with great triumph. A local San Telmo nature den called Zen has come to the soy rescue. We are starting to get into local time and ease into the sounds of the city. The orgasmic call of the city locals as Argentina thrashed Korea 4-1 in the World Cup reminding me that the passion for football corelates to the passion for communicating here.

As I start to form some idea of how to actually understand and speak beyond Neanderthal grunts, I’m buoyed by the hope of expressing myself eventually. I can now count to 1000, order shite loads off the menu and get to the toilet. The thought of ‘I will walk again’ comes to mind.

Until then my Marcel Marceau impressions are going great guns!


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