Friday, July 10, 2009

Learn the Language

SMA the locals call it. After more than a week there, I want to be a local too! Maybe it's the constant cobblestone streets. Not just one or two left, even when the streets are "newly paved", they're a super bumpy cobblestone beauty. The smiles of everyone you pass on the street, the church bells ringing every hour or the common calls of this or that street vendor. Maybe it was the perfect weather. The sidewalks-for-one were a wonder I never grew tired of. I'm just fine with stepping into the street. Even if that street, any ONE of them, had nary a street sign or street light or even a lamp post. Many moons ago, the town of San Miguel d'Allende was declared a National Monument and, with that declaration, there can be no neon signs, no modern buildings, and apparently, no street lights or ugly signs. Day one, we noticed Starbucks somehow worked it's way into the town (how do they DO that?!)
I loved being able to go to the many markets on the way home: One for tortillas, one for veggies, and my favorite, one for pollo. It was a shop no bigger than a walk-in closet, with a glassed-in spit and a little man in a chair next to it. You couldn't get in the door so much as you stood in the doorway and ordered. It was all he sold. It was tres pesos (about .25, at this point) and he cut it up, wrapped it, threw in a little baggie of jalapenos and away we went. There was even a spot called chocolate y churros. We joked about meeting there all week, but never made it. There's just more to do in this little town than a week would allow. Especially if you know you also need to get in a little sleep and some poolside margaritas.

When we did go out, I clung to my few known Spanish words: Hola, Gracias, Buenos Dias, Buenos Tardes, Buenos Noches, Hasta Luego, Adios. I got the 'how are you?' and the 'my name is..., what's yours?' down pat, as well. But the one I relied on the most was "SI!" Which kept all transactions quite positive, if sometimes confusing.
If you opened your morning with a well-accented, "Good morning, how are you today?" it's inevitable that the person you're speaking to thinks you habla espanol and away they go! Pretty soon, you're so far behind in understanding, you just end the topic with a "SI!" and hope for the best.

(Fortuitously, while I was down there, I read David Sedaris' book When You Are Engulfed In Flames and,
in his hysterical piece "In The Waiting Room",
he really clarifies how one good, foreign word can lead you to amazing places unknown.)


Marion Williams-Bennett said...

How wonderful this all sounds, especially the pollos! Nice use of language the...just be careful not to end up soemewhere sitting in your underwear!

Ivanhoe Books - Art And Design said...

Jealous! I! Am!

Bluebird Shop said...

Oh my, Molly you live life right. Love the images and your words.

Karafina said...

oh god, did i ever tell you my love for chicken? that little chicken shop sounds perrrrrrfect.