I Only Answer to Español

It was a very cold drive into Lugo early this morning. Freezing fog was my constant companion on the A54 autovía all the way to the A6.

Yet another Dr appointment at the HULA. It was packed. I now spend a few euros and park in the underground garage after learning my way around the campus. The line for the drive-up Covid testing was very long. That’s a new development after a Fall of no one being in line as I entered the garage.

The lobby was filled to the gills, as well. They had people directing those summoned for the vaccines (first, second or third doses) to enter the queue on the forth floor. Jeff and I are hoping to get the texts for our third dose very soon. I weaved my way through the masked throngs and headed to the reception desk to check in. They know me there and are very friendly and helpful. I needed to change my next follow up appointment scheduled for tomorrow, to after Christmas. I am having my hair cut tomorrow morning. It took a letter from the Pope to get this hair appointment at a decent salon and I will forgo another Drs appointment so I can have a real professional do something with the aftermath of that terrible haircut in May. I can no longer even it up myself with Jeff’s assistance and the sewing scissors. I resemble a raggedy sheepdog.

I tried using my ever increasing español on the lady at the desk. Full on present tense, perfectly accurate verb conjugation. Somewhat sophisticated vocab. Nailed it! I was pretty proud of myself. But she just smiled and responded in ingles. I frowned and answered her back in Spanish. She asked if I had understood her response in ingles. I said I had but I am trying to speak español as much as possible.

‘Its OK.’ She told me. ‘I think Spanish is difficult for Americans.’

I didn’t take it as a compliment. But, seriously, I know I spoke perfectly responsible sentences in Spanish. Work with me, people! I’ve been practicing for hours a day. This week the weather is gorgeous. Today’s high is 70/20 but the past two weeks have been freezing monsoons. Tucking in to my Spanish lessons has been a great rainy day pursuit. I am loving it. And it gets me closer to having local Spanish friends. You can’t expect everyone to speak to you in your language. Even if they are fluent. You have to be able to speak to them in a meaningful way in theirs.

The other day Jeff and I took a nice holiday leg of jamón over to Marie Carmen. As a thank you for all she has done for us since we arrived. And a gesture for what her friendship has meant to us. Her brother-in-law, son and his novia (girlfriend) were there. She invited us into the warm kitchen with this big black stove/oven thing heating the space. Now I have big black stove/oven thing envy. When you live in a cold place you value heat. The gathered ensemble had an involved conversation about replacing our gate, all the regulations, and advice on getting permission from both the Concello de Palas de Rei and the patrimonio for the Camino De Santiago. All in español. I did really well keeping up and – wait for it – actually speaking, forming real sentences in real time in a crowd of people all speaking at once. Sure, her brother-in-law laughed at my fumbling a few times, but my loosened tongue didn’t require shots of licor de herbas de Galicia to spit out spanish words. A true milagro de navidad.

After moving tomorrow’s scheduled appointment to after Christmas, I saw my other Dr, who also spoke to me in ingles. Ugh! I sure hope my new hairdresser tomorrow speaks only Spanish. I need to practice. After the holidays I am going to put up signs in Melide and Palas for intercambios. And I plan on volunteering at the local high school in the english class as a native speaker. Hopefully that will help with making friends, and meeting people I can practice Spanish with. Perhaps teachers at the school. I know the food truck will help too, but before that I need to file off the sharp edges and keep up my momentum. I never thought I would be sad when people went out of their way to speak ingles to me. But its become a hinderance. Perhaps I’ll have a t-shirt made up and wear it when I leave the house. ‘This Chica Only Answers to Español.’

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