Observing

I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.

Jane Wagner

d l and sYesterday was the first day of a two-day NGO fair sponsored by the mayor and the municipality. I was there for part of the day answering questions about the ESL program which the NGO I volunteer for has as a fundraiser, as well as to answer questions about the purpose of the NGO itself. I spent about four hours basically repeating my six pat sentences in Spanish and that left me exhausted. I watched L and S give a presentation to the assembled crowd, their Spanish so flawless to my ear and effortless and admirable, and wondered if I would ever achieve that level of proficiency, especially given that I don’t work at improving it!

puppeteersOur table was located near the speakers attached to the PA system, over which the various presentations were made. One of our volunteers, a man, showed up many hours late due to a misunderstanding regarding the schedule; the man practices meditation, is very soft-spoken, and I suspect does meditation and yoga as a way to deflect issues with anger management. He arrived just as a puppet show, full of sound effects, was being presented, and it was difficult to have a conversation with the person next to you. The viejos from ALMA were laughing harder than were the children, who were laughing often and some were on the edge of their seats in anticipation. audienceThe puppets were enacting – with great exaggeration – some tension-filled scenes from every day life, and the kids could relate, and the puppets showed them ways to deal with those situations, and how to deal with situations that life presents for which you aren’t prepared. The volunteer had to leave as he wasn’t able to carry on a conversation above the noise from the surroundings. Perhaps he felt he couldn’t control the situation.

C, whom I only see now on the street and in the supermarket, has said a pet peeve of hers is when norteamericanos answer the phone with “bueno” and are unable to carry on a conversation in Spanish. Why not just say “hello” and let the Spanish speaker know that they must switch to English?

I wonder why, most often, I can share a narrow sidewalk with two portly Mexicans while it is usually not possible to share the sidewalk with one portly (or not portly) norteamericana or two thinner norteramericanos? Especially if they are mujeres?

tortillaAt the NGO fair several organizations sold things. A potter was making small ornamental vases which could be bought. Others had handcrafts that were finished – purses, pottery, shawls, scarves. Some had food, and one food vendor had hand-decorated tortillas.

Caracas

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