My time and Spain and my interactions with a Spanish teacher in England apparently helped me pass another mental barrier when it comes to my confidence level in my Spanish. I know I did very well at the border and with immigration and customs, but it wasn’t until the last couple of days that I’ve come to realise that I’ve finally settled into a wonderful place where Spanish generally isn’t scary or an effort anymore and things that were mentally taxing just a year ago aren’t anymore.
Take last night for example. I was absolutely brain dead and couldn’t bear the thought of any more mental gymnastics. I wanted to put on a movie and let myself be swept away. Well, the movie I picked, which I can’t recommend highly enough, Lion, was only available with Spanish subtitles over the Hindi and Bengal dialogue. I decided to give it a few minutes and, sure enough, the Spanish subtitles were as comfortable as French or English ones. I think I paused the movie all of four or five times to check a word or verb tense I wasn’t sure about.
Then, there was today, which was the day to finally take Moya to see a mechanic. Money is trickling in and not feeling comfortable taking her far is really beginning to cramp my style. The directions I got to a mechanic who was recommended to me by not only an expat but also a Mexican neighbour were easy to follow. No one was there, so I called out and an elderly woman came out. I asked for the mechanic, she called for him, and then she started chatting. Now, it’s harder to understand older uneducated people and kids using a lot of slang, but I still followed what she was saying. Then, the mechanic came out and I explained what was going on. Now, here’s the thing. I’d only come in with one three new words, the verb dejar that I’ve been practicing and which was useful for saying I just wanted to leave the truck for him to look at whenever he could, the verb girar (to turn), and the noun cojinetes (bearings, as in I think that’s what’s wrong). That’s all I needed.
It’s hard to describe how I felt as I went into the garage, but there just wasn’t that knot in my stomach I’d get at the start of my Mexican adventures when I’d pace back and forth outside of a business going over all the possible ways the conversations could go so I could be ready for them. I don’t do that anymore. I’m at the point where I’ve finally accepted that I’m fluent.
Do I ever fall flat on my face and have failures in communication? All the time. Are they the end of the world? No. I go back over the exchange and look up words I didn’t understand or was missing. Because I’m not needing to pick up a lot at a time, I’m not overwhelmed and often the new words stick, especially if I make an effort to use them. I was dismayed today that I almost forgot about dejar, but when I finally blurted it out, the verb was mine and officially part of my vocabulary, as is girar. I’m not sure I’ll need cojinetes often enough for it to roll off the tongue, though. 🙂
Whether I’m scanning ingredients on a can of something at the grocery store, skimming a trashy magazine at the grocery store, chasing down the guy in a truck with a loudspeaker blasting that he has watermelon, stopping a tortilla deliverer to see if he could come deliver to my house periodically (sadly, no), or taking a funny quiz on Buzzfeed, everyday Spanish has become comfortable. Now, that I’m this point, I need to stop thinking of watching Spanish movies and TV shows or reading Spanish book as “homework” and just start doing it regularly without making a fuss about it. And then, when I finally move to the city in the fall, I really need to start socialising with Mexicans. I’m already doing research on courses I could take, everything from painting to Mayan history, that could get me out of the house and meeting people beyond my immediate neighbours.
So at any rate, the mechanic said he’d look at Moya first thing tomorrow and message me what’s wrong and the cost. Hopefully, it’ll be no worse and ideally better than the brake job I had done (which was over $4,000, or about 300CAD at the time) and I’ll find myself with a trustworthy vehicle again. After I left her, I went into a shop around the corner to get a bottle of cold water for the nearly 3KM walk home, and set off. Well, just as I passed the limits of the town proper, a van screeched to a stop ahead of me. It contained three expat ladies who are basically immediate neighbours! What timing!
That worked out well because it started to storm shortly after I got in. We lost power for a bit and I discovered that the skylights in my suite leak. I spent some time on Skype with the hosts talking about that and some plumbing problems I’m having that I troubleshooted on and off well into the evening.
Somehow with all of that, I got through a mountain of work today and still managed to finish early enough to watch another movie. It’s no wonder I’m sleeping so well considering how worn out I am by bedtime! 🙂
I’m trying to take it easy this weekend and possibly go to Mérida for a day on public transportation, but that’s proving more difficult than expected. There are buses that stop very near my house, but they tend to be full and I could wait for hours to get a seat on one, with the same thing in reverse. I might make more sense to wait until I’ve got Moya running again. Thankfully, there’s enough going on here that I don’t feel too claustrophobic yet. 🙂
And with that, ¡Buenas noches, queridos lectores!