travel

Gotta Learn the Language

annette funicelloWhen I married Bruno, I wasted no time in indoctrinating the two young girls that came with my husband into my fantasies of campus life so that I could live vicariously through them when they got to college. After all my careful preparation, based mostly on memories of the Midge clone coeds and an excess of Annette Funicello movies, I’m sure they were surprised to get to their dorm on the first night and find that gabfests in baby doll pajamas and visiting hours for boys had gone the way of “getting a reputation.” (By then, both sexes had started sharing the same hall bathroom, so “getting a reputation” required a pretty high level of commitment. Like starring in adult films.) But we all adapted, and my girls have learned to indulge my ideas of campus slumber parties without compromising their high functioning social lives in the real Virginia schools that they attended.

Recently, Mommy’s precious alumni wrote me with the news of her first apartment, a plush set up in a very glamorous building well inside the beltway up in D.C. Knowing me as she does, she invited me to come sleep on her couch, saying that we could “play coeds,”the little darling. She knows it’s still my favorite game. What she doesn’t know is that now I am a coed!

I’ve enrolled at the Instituto Technilogico, which is our community college, and which got my attention with it’s energetic slide show of a modern campus during the pre-movie commercials at the local Bijoux. The coeds wore headbands! (These advertisements turned out to be somewhat hopeful, as the campus is not yet built, but, you know, whatever.)
I’ve been resolving to work on my Spanish more formally for years. It’s easy to let it slide around here, since you can speak any garbled pidgen you like and be understood perfectly, but Spanish is such a beautiful language, I would like to be fluent in it. I was spurred into action the other day by the appearance of my maid and her mother, who sidled into my yard on Carmen’s day off. Experience has taught me that when they show up together, it’s not to pass the time of day, especially since neither one of them speak a word of English. Nor is it because the thought of my bed going unmade for a day disturbs our maid’s serenity, although on these occasions she always starts out by making the bed and doing whatever dishes are in the sink. No, when Carmen and her Mom slink in there’s going to be an opportunity for money to change hands. At the very least for me to buy a corn pie, which the women respond to as though it’s laced with crack. When the lady who sells them out of the trunk of her Chrysler comes around, one of them is sure to let me know.

fresh eggsAs I suspected, the older senora wished to borrow $100.00 USD to pay her phone bill so that the service wouldn’t be interrupted. And I didn’t mind lending it to her, as they have established good credit. However, on this occasion I was concerned because it sounded like the senora, rather than fixing a date to return the hundred dollars, was trying to work out an arrangement to pay me back in eggs. Eggs? Eggs? I was horrified, not even able to imagine how many eggs a hundred dollars might buy. Did she mean to bring me eggs every time her hens laid them, or collect a dozen and bring them by every third day….there just wasn’t any good way to get paid back in eggs.

And that’s why I’m going to Spanish classes at the almost finished college campus in the mountains. Because, while huevos and Jueves sound a lot alike, eggs and Thursday are not the same thing.

Elliott Joachim pulled the plug on life in Metro D.C. and headed South of the Border. In her blog, Lifestyle Refugee (honey, what the hell are we doing in Mexico), she regales you with how a middle range baby boomer builds a new life in Ajijic.

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