Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fresca Como Lechuga

One of the things we talked about at MTI (my mission training in Colorado earlier this year) was how differences in languages (and cultures!) can extend as far as what animals ‘say’.  For example, in English, ducks go Quack.  In Spanish they say ‘Cuac’.  Not a big thing, really, but it can add to the feeling that everything I know (or thought I knew!) is changing.

I’m also learning that little proverbs and sayings are different.  I knew this, of course, but hearing it with my own ears is...well... different!  Yesterday when I greeted my teacher and asked how she was doing, she said she was ‘fresca como lechuga’.  She could tell by my puzzled face I didn’t understand. 
When someone here in Guatemala is feeling well-rested and happy, people might say “Ella esta fresca como lechuga” which means, “She is fresh as (or 'like') lettuce”. 
One of the first days here, I heard Dona Cristi on the telephone.  She kept saying “Bye” but apparently the person didn’t take the hint, because the conversation went on for several more minutes, with plenty more “Bye”’s. 

I found out later that what she was saying was “Vaya”, only really quickly, so it sounded like our English word ‘bye’.  You've probably heard Vaya con Dios (Go with God) but here it's also used to help let the other person know you are hearing and understanding them, kind of how we say OK or Yeah when we’re talking in English.  

I’m so glad I’m learning catch phrases and idioms of the language along with the grammar and verb tenses!  I’m sure once I get to the D.R. I’ll have to learn lots more.  Who knows, maybe there people are fresca como pinas (fresh as pineapples)!
Early this morning Cristina and Sabrina left for the airport, so our little family is much smaller today.  I know it was difficult for Cristina, who missed her husband and other children, but also hated leaving her mom, sister, and family here. 
We were talking about it one night, and I shared with her the idea of living with one’s heart in two separate places.  It’s something lots of people do, I know, but I think for those who come from very close-knit families it must be especially difficult.  I also told her about the Yay Duck and Yuck Ducks.  Today is definitely a day of both for her!! 
School continues to be challenging, but good.  Sonia (my new teacher) is great, although she gives a lot more homework!  Along with my written assignments, I bring my notebook along to La Fabrika (the gym I joined) and review as I’m on the elliptical.  I may not be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, but I can stride backwards while reading Yo tuve, Tu’ tuviste, Ella tuvo…!

I’m also trying to speak more and more Spanish with people outside of my house.  Yesterday I was talking with someone at La Fabrika and I think (or at least I hope!) I didn’t say anything too goofy.  I find people here are so nice and generous as I stumble along while attempting to say the simplest things. 

It makes me think of how some people in my home country sometimes act toward those who are from other places.  I don’t want to get into a debate about whether others ‘need to learn English’ but I sometimes think we’re so very impatient.  What if everyone here refused to talk with me until I had mastered Spanish?!  It’s far more motivating to have someone willing to smile and help me along.  (Okay, off the soapbox!) 

The sun is shining, so I’m going to head to the park to finish El Leon, La Bruja y El Ropero.  Until next time, I hope you each have a wonderful day!


  1. Jaja, idioms are so interesting! I'm glad you're getting more comfortable with Spanish.

  2. When we get annoyed at others, we're telling/showing them that our time and convenience is more important than they are. I think many Americans need to think about this before we act it out. As a parent, I know I need to think on it long and hard, too. Blessing to you today, Kimberly!