Today I was reminded how the heck Michael and I have come to live in this little rancho of Arroyo Seco, Mexico when a friend asked how we made the decision to move here and build a home in 'el centro'.
When Michael and I decided to sell our beloved boat, Sabbatical, it took us both about a year to figure out 'what's next?'. We were back in Sacramento, back at our jobs at the university and kind of flailing about. We knew pretty much since the day we met that we would go cruising and traveling. Now that we had done it -- had pretty much sucked the marrow out of that experience -- the question lingered: What else do we want to do?
Eventually I came up with my short list:
I wanted to live in another country.
I wanted to learn another language.
I wanted to learn to play the fiddle.
This is our second year living in Mexico, our first year in Arroyo Seco. If I wanted immersion, if I want to learn the language, learn the culture, well.... be careful what you wish for?
It's exhausting. Fun! But mentally exhausting.
Tonight we had dinner with our neighbors and friends, Chena and Chon, and their children Brianda, Dani and Juliet. No English spoken at this table, por favor.
I vacillate between frustration and progress. Tonight I asked a question in a complete sentence and it was just about a conversation stopper.
We've only been here for about two weeks and Michael assures me I'm making progress. I can't tell. But now that the parties are slowing down a bit, I'm going to find a tutor to work with me every morning until a verb slips naturally off my tongue.
The hardest part for me as I learn to communicate in Espanol, poco a poco, is my inability to make small talk, to break the ice with people, to include people in conversation. Here I feel standoffish because I don't know what to say or how to say it, especially as I'm simply walking down the street near our house. I don't have the vocabulary to comfortably get past the morning salutations.
Upcoming events include a baptism (we're the godparents!), a housewarming and a wedding. I don't know how long it will take before social dialogue can be part of my new language rather than 'where are the bathrooms?' but motivation is high.
As to the third item on my list, I've been learning to play the fiddle for almost three years now. The hardest part, at first, was that it takes exactly the same part of my brain to learn the violin as it does to learn a language. Really a strange sensation.
Now that I'm a little more confident in my fiddle playing, I'm hoping that part of my brain can be diverted to language learning.
My immediate goal? To sound less like a toddler and more like a teenager by the time we head north in June.
I'll keep you posted. Wish me 'buena suerte!'
Dani and Juliet, Brianda this Christmas.