Saturday, January 10, 2015

Teachers, teachers everywhere

"Look!  A Vaca (cow)!" 2-year-old Santi yelled as he pointed to the horses out in the field.

"That's not a cow," his grandma Mariu patiently replied "that's a caballo (horse).  Can you say cab-a-llo?"  And so she helped him repeat the word caballo about 5 times and then asked "What's that out in the field?"

"Una vaca!" he yelled.

Sometimes I feel a lot like Santi.  Like how I keep learning and then forgetting that the bus stop is called a "parada" and not a "pared" (wall).  And how when I meant to say "How was the beach?" I instead say "How was the bathroom?"  But just like Santi, I'm surrounded by kind people who help me improve.

In fact, sometimes Santi helps me learn stuff, like the time we were looking at the nativity scene at his great-grandparents house and I pointed to different characters and asked "What's this?  What's that?"  Little did he know I didn't know myself!  But I've learned that he's not a completely reliable teacher, since he likes to call his feet his "little-ducks" (patitos) a word also used for animal paws, and sometimes says only the last half of words.

For some reason, I can't understand what certain people say, like the lady who works cleaning and cooking at my host family's second house.  But often their body language helps me understand their meaning, like when she wanted to pull on my big, purple swollen toe I had stubbed to straighten it out in case it was broken.  "No quiero, gracias" I told her, so she gave me ice water with salt to soak it in instead, and now it's good as new.

And I like to eavesdrop on conversations on the bus and in the street, and slowly, one word at a time, just like little Santi, I'm learning.