Hola! By Helen Townsend

I want to understand what the Mexicans are saying and for them to understand what I’m saying. The phrase book with the CD is too basic. I understand my Spanish lessons if they’re in English, but unfortunately, putting lo, se, adios, alli, ayer and the word for potatoes into a sentence and making myself understood is beyond me. When I venture beyond the present tense, which you need to do to lead a full life and have a reasonable conversation, I am totally stuffed.

Street sellers, shop assistants, gallery attendants and members of the general public patiently listen to my Spanish. Then there’s a bit of to and fro, but I can’t make out a single word they're saying. They ask me to speak English, then we proceed in broken Spanglish, without great success.

People say ”think in Spanish”, but it’s awful when you do. My Spanish vocab is so restricted that my thoughts are like - in, out, door, chair, I want, I don't want, how much do ten of them houses cost? The pronunciation gets to you too. I saw a sign for belly dancing classes yesterday. What is Beyair? What is darnsih? I understood “classes” though. Maybe it’s working.

The saving grace is that I have discovered a whole new way of communicating. Wave your arms about and draw things in the air. Better than words any day. And the Mexicans understand perfectly.

in Mexico City, Mexico


I've been a writer forever and have had 22 books published. Now I'm writing short stories and I love it. See them on my website and please comment. I love feedback. And of course short shorts here.

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