11 April, 2008

Developing an ear for el español

At the site I am only one of three norteamericanos working there, Gary and Linda making up the other two of course. The rest of the crew are locals from Mátatlan, with one guy from Mitla (Rolando, the one I have a tiny crush on but he has an esposa and of course as part of the crew that is so NO-NO, but he's a sweetheart and a great friend). So as you can imagine there is a lot of spanish speaking going on and for the most part my day is spent speaking spanish.

I can already tell that my spanish is getting better--though I still make mistakes its so much easier now for me to just speak it. My confidence level has gone way up! Of course, if I didn't speak spanish with the crew I could be in serious trouble, how else could I take points, measure for maps, and work with them (prior to this I was also so shy about speaking spanish and lacked the confidence to approach people and ask for things unless I truly needed too)? It's to the point now where I don't even hesitate about launching into a story or telling jokes--and it's great when you can make people laugh and say funny things in a language that's not your own.

The coolest thing? A lot of workers speak Zapoteco, at least two different dialectos as the Zapotec spoken in Mitla is different from that spoken in Mátatlan, even though they are only 15-20 minutes apart by car. So I get to hear a lot of it and its pretty cool, even though I have no idea what's being said. It's quite fun to have my day filled with not only spanish but Zapotec as well, with a smattering of English when I chat with Gary and Linda. I'm even picking up some Zapotec, though I've really only learned four words (maize, tortilla, mezcal and hecho por mano or made by hand).

I'm sure that by the time I return three months later I will be so fluent in spanish that I will have forgotten english!

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