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Understanding and the Spanish Language

We are in Chile! We spent a great 2+ weeks in Ecuador and explored it deeply – Quito, Mindo Cloud Forest, Andes horse trekking, waterfalls and hiking in the east on the way towards the Amazon, and about a week more of Spanish language studies in the charming southern city of Cuenca.

Our Spanish is coming along. But not without a few misunderstandings.

When we were in Granada, Nicaragua, I asked our horse carriage driver, the brother of a previous driver of ours, on our second excursion, how many of his brothers also had horses and carriages. He proceeded to tell me a genealogical history of the number of brothers of each of his horses--probably wondering why this guy was so sexist in his attitudes towards the animal world not to be interested in the sisters of his horses.

Another time, in Quito, we were riding with an older and finely dressed conservative driver to visit the mother of an Ecuadoran woman who married my cousin. He asked her relationship to us and was shocked when I casually mentioned (with my wife and kids in the car) that we going to visit the mother of my boyfriend. He asked for clarification and I affirmed, “Yes, my boyfriend.” For the record, I learned that day that “primo” is cousin and “novio” is boyfriend.

Later, the grandmother in the story above asked Malia in Spanish, “Is your mother still alive?” And Malia smiled and answered, “No, no. But it’s okay.” The grandmother looked quite puzzled at her cavalier attitude towards the demise of her mother. When I suggested that her mother was actually still alive; Malia realized that the grandmother had not asked if she wanted something more to drink. In her defense, the grandmother’s “tu madre” and “tomar” (to drink), did sound alike.

I am sure there have been many more mistakes that went past us…but others are laughing and telling the stories now. I would be embarazada…but that would just mean I was pregnant!

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