Finally, after 27 days with Rosetta, I have learned some handy phrases. Not that I'm complaining - it's been vital to understand my colors and numbers and such, but I'm a social person who would prefer to initiate a conversation with my fellow Spanish dancer with "Hola, como te llamas?" rather than point to her lovely black shoes and remark "Bueno zapatos negros!"
In any other language crash course I've explored to make foreign traveling easier, they always start out with introductions and descriptions of where you're from and where you'd like to go.
De donde son ustades? (Where are you from?) Ustedes son de Colombia. (I'm from Columbia.)
Sadly, I don't have a clear concept where Columbia is located, but at least now I could tell someone if I had to. The word for live is viver - and all its derivatives, vive, vivo, vivinos, etc.
This is can be confusing to the beginning language learner. All verb conjugations spill out quite naturally out of Rosetta's mouth, but it takes you a while to catch on to what is actually being said. More importantly, what you're expected to say when given the opportunity. Sometimes I get tripped up in my Franco-Italiano Spanglish, pronouncing en nasally like the French do, or spitting out Como se chiamo? in Italian, which sounds suspiciously like Como te llamo? What is your name? and means the same thing.
After swapping names, you politely respond, "Ecantado de concerte," Nice to meet you. We haven't yet got into how we're feeling but I'm sure we will soon, and the pictures should be hilarious, if Rosetta stays true to su colores. I can only imagine the picture of el niño looking sick to his stomach, or la mujer looking desperate for a drink after a long day. We'll see.
What still amazes me is how Rosetta hasn't uttered one word of English these last weeks, and we're friends; I understand her completely. It's like traveling abroad and communicating by body language. This is so important on many levels for me. 1) My mind is still able to absorb new and foreign information at age 50 with success, 2) Given the motivation, one can communicate with anyone else, regardless of language, 3) There is hope for world peace, or at least detante, if people just take the time to try to understand others. This may seem a little soppy, but throughout my life I have met and become friends with folks from Eygpt, Italy, France, Peru, and those of different races and religions in the US. I get energized from all these folks and their different cultures and perspectives. God must have really had fun creating all of us so differently, only to see if we were smart enough to build puentes between us all.
My dad, nearly 80 years old, is in Mexico with the Lion's Club as I write, building those bridges, fitting eyeglasses on people so they can see more clearly. He started learning Spanish 10 years ago and is thrilled to use it in such a meaningful manner. My dad is my hero - tackling new things with such enthusiasm and optimism, and using his knowledge to help others in his community and beyond our borders. While others lament growing old, my dad is embracing life and squeezing it for all its worth. May Our Lady of Guadalupe bless him and his mission in Mexico. With any luck, I'll be following his footprints.