after week one in mexico

Week one has ended, and quite frankly, it couldn’t have come at a better time. My head was near explosive levels by Friday afternoon, packed with enough irregular verbs to fuel a dozen Hiroshimas. (Verbs are extremely volatile chemically, particular the ones with -ir root endings.) My handy dandy flashcards tell me I’ve learned 162 verbs so far. Of course, “learned” is being used here in the “they’re in my notebook somewhere” sense, so I’d hold off on asking me to distinguish sentir and sentar were I you.
And that’s just the verbs! Let’s not even get started on para versus por! It’s like a bad sequel to Ser vs. Estar: The Wrath of Moctezuma.
Thoughts from my first week in Morelia:
– This place makes me feel old. I’m probably the only student at my language school who has to pay full price at the movies. About half are high school students; another 40 percent are college students from Minnesota and Illinois seeking January warmth. Then there are the AARP couples who, while nice, seem more interested in learning new enchilada recipes than in learning Spanish.
I’m also just about the only person here on my own — everyone else comes with a built-in network of dorm dwellers and wives and secret boyfriends and fellow softball outfielders. A reasonable person would try to ameliorate said situation by taking action — meeting people, seeking new friendships. I, in contrast, have funneled my energies into heroin.
(I kid!)
– Down the street from my school is a ferreteria. Upon seeing the sign, I imagined the most wonderful place in the world: a place for Morelians to purchase pet ferrets. Or perhaps to bring them in for cleaning and servicing. Or a sort of ferret social hall, for young ferrets to mingle with their furry peers. I can’t tell you how sad I was to learn it’s just a hardware store.
– Favorite Spanish word so far: “semaforo,” meaning traffic light. I tell more jokes with semaphore flags in their punch lines than any human should, and I’m glad to know the people of Latin America will be prepared.
– Favorite indie-rock discussions with confused instructors (tie): explaining the existence of New York rock combo Yo La Tengo when we got to the verb tener on day two; explaining the wonders of Calexico when discussing the word guero — in particular, its use in the song “Guero Canelo.” Which apparently means something along the lines of “Cinnamon Honky.”
– Favorite instructor vs. dictionary disputes: The article of clothing that covers my legs — is it “el pantalon” singular or “los pantalones” plural? The pant or the pants? Similarly, should the existence of my native land be discussed as “los Estados Unidos es” (singular) or “los Estados Unidos son” (plural)? (Didn’t we fight a civil war over that last question?) In both cases, el diccionario says plural; Jaime, my expert grammarian, insists on singular.
– Relationship thoughts disclosed by one of my teachers (who, for his own protection, shall go unnamed — it ain’t the pantalon-crusading Jaime, don’t worry): American girls are friendly and easy. Mexican girls are snobby and unapproachable. There’s nothing wrong with going after high school sophomores when you’re in your mid-20s. You have to treat women poorly if you want them to like you. Canadian women are waaay hotter than American women, particularly the ones from British Columbia.
– What’s the best way to deal with a big fat blister on the sole of one’s foot? Seeking reader advice.
– My rolled “r” shows no sign of improving. May even be getting worse. I think I injured a passing bird Wednesday when I tried to conjugate reir in third-person plural preterite and accidentally produced a lung bolus big enough to dam a river. Jaime keeps telling me to hold back, to “stop sounding so French,” and to practice. It’s no use. I am immune to instruction at this point — the tongue trill just isn’t in my vocal toolbox, no matter how precise the advice and instructions I am given. I haven’t been told where to put my tongue this often since freshman year of college.
(Boom! The jokes keep on coming!)
– There’s no disappointment quite like meeting someone you think might be cool to hang out with over the next few weeks — then hearing her say her favorite bands are, in order, Bush, Silverchair, Korn, and Jimmy Buffett.

12 thoughts on “after week one in mexico”

  1. Although this is old news, I just saw on cspan that Interesting… What was your motivation for leaving? I’m from Ohio so when I’m thinking of quote unquote famous newspapers I always think of the times, the chicago tribune, the star and the blade. Im sure this same list does not come to everyone.
    By the way, I must agree that I like Bush… occasionally.

  2. that post got messed up. I meant to comment that I just saw on cspan that some writers for the Blade won the pulitzer last year.

  3. Gavin Rossdale is no doubt encouraged by these comments.
    My motivation for leaving Toledo mainly involved the city of Toledo. Then again, I ended up moving to Dallas, which has less charm than Toledo. So maybe I am a Pulitzerless idiot.

  4. For the blister, you can find some padding (somewhere– try the ferreteria… jk) and cut a donut out of it, and then tape it to your foot where the blister will be in the middle of the donut. At least, that’s what my high school trainers used to do. You have to walk around on a pad all day, but it’s better than walking around on a blister, I suppose. (The Spanish word for blister is “ampolla,” btw, in case that helps at the farmacia.)
    I think it’s funny how we have favorite words in other languages. My favorite Spanish word– Mexican Spanish, at least– is “popote.” (Straw, though I’m sure you’ve been using that one all week.)

  5. I met a cool person recently. Or they appeared cool. Then they told me that The DaVinci Code was their favorite book. I just can’t countenance that.

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