A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!

Rosana

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January 2005 — Today I want to recommend a Spanish school I’ve never been to but know I would love, and talk about a couple we’ve met who do fine in Mexico without speaking Spanish.

While websurfing one day recently I came across a site for Amiga’s Spanish Lesssons in Paradise, located in the charming little beach town of Barras de Navidad, in Jalisco, Mexico, right near another beach town called Melaque. Immediately I wanted to go there (and we may yet, this trip) and take lessons from a place that teaches through excursions with some classroom instruction. I also was intrigued by the comment that there are 5 magic verbs that can provide very useful short cuts.

Reading about their approach took me back a few years to the time I had been a volunteer teacher of ESL (English as a second language) to a small group of Vietnamese refuge ladies in Olympia, Washington. They were of my generation, having been young women during the Vietnam war, and English was quite a struggle for them. Of all the things we did together, the one they liked the best was our field trip to a grocery store, where they could learn the names of many foods they cooked with.

Field trips? Yes. Relevance to your life? You bet. See you at Amiga’s! (Their website also has a link to a page about their town, so you can see whether you’d like to go there.)

But maybe you wonder about going to Mexico if you don’t know any Spanish. I’ve just been chatting with the only other Americans who are camped where we are, El Banito near Ciudad Valles. Joe and Pat Lee are a retired couple who know almost no Spanish, but they been coming to Mexico for years. They’ve made Mexican friends whom they come back and see, year after year. I asked them how they did it without having studied Spanish at all, and Pat said listening carefully has been important. Bit by bit, they have picked up some. They’ve also taught English phrases to some of the children, who can then translate a little! They travel with a dictionary and look up words for things that they want to buy, ahead of time.

But most of all, they have a spirit of adventure about it all. Joe told me that one time something was going on — he didn’t remember the exact details — and he thought he had it all figured out pretty well. Then a friend of his turned up, an American who spoke more Spanish, and he told Joe that he had it completely wrong. Joe’s reaction, then and as he told me this story, was to roar with laughter. An easy-going attitude will take you a long way!

I asked for any difficulties they’d had, and Pat said she’d had a hard time getting anyone to understand when she wanted to buy some chicken livers. She also once asked where she could have her hair shampooed and got taken to the grocery store’s display of bottles of shampoo! But she gets by, well enough to have taught quilting to a group of Mexican women. As they both say, friendship with Mexicans is not dependent on speaking Spanish.

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