MexMo: Nope. I wouldn't have believed you.

If you would have told me seven years ago my husband and I would be living in Mexico, with our two daughters that I birthed here, I would have suspected that you were using illegal narcotics.

I had one of those almost-laughing-out-loud, how-did-I-get-here? moments yesterday while attending an hour-long, all-Spanish meeting at Lila's preschool.

Where am I? Whose life is this? Why is it 98 degrees at 6 p.m. in September? Why does is hurt my brain so much to concentrate on what they're saying?

Even five years ago when we moved here I would have never suspected that I would have been confident enough to voluntarily attend an all-Spanish meeting. At that point, I was still attempting to translate EVERY single word that people said in Español.

My sister finally explained to me that I needed to listen and not translate. That was a huge a-ha moment. (I miss Oprah.)

I am by no means incredible in the 'ole Spanish world, but I understand quite a lot. Sure, I still need help here and there. My conjugations are usually off, but I try. I'll have a conversation in Español with anyone, but you just might not know what I'm saying. Praise the Lord that I have hands and that when I get really stuck, I can gesture.

My respect for anyone who speaks English as a second language has grown exponentially since living here. There's nothing more humbling than moving to another country and not speaking the language. In my opinion, you have a get-out-of-jail-free card for the first year or so... then it's time to learn. And you know what, ya'll? Learning a new language and speaking it on a regular basis is hard.

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So yeah. I can't believe I live in Mexico. I can't believe I had my children here. And I can't believe that yet again I was the only gringo in a room full of Mexicans. And I can't believe that I was so ok with it.

By the way, whenever I'm the lone American I am ever-so-thankful for how welcoming this community is. Perhaps the 'ole U.S. of A. should take a lesson from their neighbors to the south and be just as welcoming to them. (Opening immigration reform conversation now.)

Cabo is lovely for so many obvious reasons, hello 350 days of sunshine per year... but it's lovely because the people are kind and patient with Gringas like me.

Viva Mexico.

P.S. When Vivienne started fussing during the meeting, one of the administrators of the school held her and took her outside so that I could listen. Um. Hello super-nice, family-oriented culture.

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6 comments:

  1. Yeah, you're kind of my hero. I just can't imagine doing what you've done. . .amazing!

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  2. The idea of welcoming, kind strangers is so odd to me. Isn't that sad? When we're in Montana, it feels like another country because people are SO much nicer/calmer/happier. American midwest? Nope. American south/east coast? Nope. American west? Maybe.

    When Paul & I were first dating, we went to my parent's house for something and he waved at each oncoming vehicle out on the country roads. I promptly told him "We don't do that here." Haha!

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  4. I think that understanding and compassion for ESL speakers is SO sorely lacking in the vast majority of Americans...the same Americans who go to Paris and complain about rude Parisians, but they've never bothered to learn how to say please and thank you in French. Living abroad and having to survive using my second language (french) changed me as a person, and it's so cool to read about you doing the same thing in Mexico. You're so right that the key is NOT translating every word - just listening. It's such a hard and such a SIMPLE concept, all at the same time. So cool. Your daughters are starting out ahead of so many others b/c of this experience! :)

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  5. This is amazing to me. It really is. The opportunity you are giving your girls and the experience that you and Craig are having. Incredible.

    I think it is so sad when I hear stuff like, "It's America, we speak AMERICAN!" It makes me cringe (well, bad grammar aside), but the lack of compassion and the ignorance of our own people.

    Basically? You rock.

    Outside of that, I think we can all learn something from this post as to how we treat one another.

    Being kind is international, right?

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  6. I sooo miss the love I got in Cabo! Strangers and locals were always smiling and so kind and adoring of Josie. Sigh. A lesson is needed, indeed.

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