Housekeeping

Un poco de esto, un poco de aquello. Here are a few things going on in my life that involve Spanish. I thought that perhaps somebody, somewhere might like to know. Maybe you?

1. After not getting the interpreter position, I mentioned that I had found another job, something that would have me using Spanish all day, and I said that details were forthcoming. And I meant it when I said it, but then I could never muster the interest to actually tell you what it is that I’ve been doing. I’ve been working for a software company, I’m on a computer all day, I read and “analyze” Spanish newspaper articles, and I really have to be on my toes about grammar. Suffice it to say, it’s rather tedious. However, my coworkers are awesome, I’ve learned lots more Spanish, it’s extremely flexible and I can work from home whenever I want, and the pay is great. I’m working as a contractor, and the contract will end at the end of June. I’m very grateful to have found the job when I did, but I won’t be sad when we part ways.

2. Remember how the hospital told me that they wanted me to work for them on an on-call basis? Well, it wasn’t just fluff. The coordinator wrote me several times after that, on my case about getting in there, and then there was a two-month silence. Hiring freeze, it turns out. Then she got back in touch with me, apologizing profusely, insisting that she had not forgotten me and that they still really wanted me to work for them. I had my orientation last week, and tomorrow I’ll start shadowing another interpreter around. Patience paid off! Now that I have these hospital bills coming in, it’s nice to have a second income. I’ll work some nights and weekends, all the while gaining more experience and sharpening my skills. No veo la hora.

3. Like I said, current job ends at the end of June. And then . . . I’m taking off. I’m going to bounce around South America for a month with a friend. We’re going to start in Buenos Aires and then make our way up to Colombia. Will probably spend a week in each of those two places, letting us spend a few days in the places in between– Chile, Peru, and Ecuador. I’ve been to a handful of Latin American countries, but none in South America outside of Colombia. Will Couchsurf and stay with locals. Definitely won’t take Spanish lessons and don’t intend to sit around talking about Spanish, but plan to be extremely active and adventurous and do everything in Spanish. Will also only speak Spanish with my friend. I love accents and regionalisms, and with the short amount of time I spend in each place, I’d love to try to “master” the local accent as best I can. Maybe I’ll post videos from each country. And one at the beginning so you can see what I’m starting with (Colombian, but likely more and more watered-down each day!). In Colombia, I could definitely do separate ones for Bogotá and Medellín–they don’t sound anything alike. If you remember, I’m extremely partial to the Paisa (Medellín) accent. I feel so fortunate to be able to go on this trip. I have the luxury of time, money (I’m certainly not rich and was almost broke a few months ago, but I save pretty well, and you don’t have to be rich to travel!), health, and many other things. Mostly time, though.

4. My parents are moving to Nicaragua in July. They just got back from a week and a half in Central America, and they’re about to spend five weeks in Ecuador. Nope, they’re not retiring, just wanting something new. I’ll probably go visit them at Christmas.

5. I haven’t updated my reading list in forever. Every time I see in my stats that someone looked at it, I cringe a little. Haven’t read much in Spanish, I’ll admit it, or, mejor dicho, haven’t finished much in Spanish lately. I’ve read a few Latin American memoirs/history/political books in the past month or so, and I’m trying to make it through some Argentinian lit in light of my trip. I just finished one collection of Cortázar’s short stories and started another. I’ve bought a lot of books in Spanish recently, though, if that counts for anything. In fact, I’m pretty sure I now own more in Spanish than in English, making my bookshelves look rather wonderfully esoteric to the average passerby. That’s not saying much, though– although I used to be the owner of hundreds of books, Colombia has divested me of almost all of them. I either sold them before I went down there, had them stolen by a taxi driver there, or left them with my ex. It’s fine; I feel very light.

6. Can’t think of anything else. Happy Mother’s Day! ¡Feliz día de las madres! Here’s something a friend shared on Facebook. If you want to speak Spanish to your kids and sound convincing, you’d do well to learn these phrases. I’ve already learned them by heart. No (future) child of mine will ever know I wasn’t born speaking Spanish a la perfección. Spanish speakers, what other phrases would you add?

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3 responses to “Housekeeping

  1. Good luck with all that! I hope you post lots about your travels!
    I know what you mean about the difference between the accents of Medellin and Colombia. A few years ago when I was a volunteer helping immigrants adjust to life in Canada, I was helping a man from Medellin. Although my Spanish was (and still is) pretty limited, his Spanish was almost effortless to understand. It was great for me!
    Then, one day he introduced me to a friend of his from Bogota and I couldn’t understand one word he said to me. I looked helplessly at Luis and he repeated what he had said verbatim and I understood everything. It was so awkward! Now I know it wasn’t just me! Later on I had another friend from Bogota who was also rather hard to understand. He pronounced LL’s like ZHA. It was painful to listen to.
    I think I have to go visit Medellin. I hear it’s nice (and safe) there now.
    ¡Bien Viaje!

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    • How interesting! I wonder if most people would have the same opinion. To be honest, I consider the Bogotá accent clearer and more “neutral” because I’m much more accustomed to it. I lived in Bogotá much longer than I lived in Medellín. However, I’m partial to the Medellín accent because I just like how it sounds, plus for some sentimental reasons. Who knows if those men were “representative” of those accents? Even within regions, you can have huge differences due to family, education, economics, origin, etc.

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  2. That’s likely true. Even in Canada and the US there are differences in accents. My friend Luis from Medellin was a university professor so I imagine he spoke at a very high level. He was learning English and had the same problem with the different accents here but luckily he had no problem understanding me. The men from Bogata were also educated but perhaps not at the same level or from the same region? Who knows?
    I’ve watched various telenovelas (just for the Spanish… no really) from Colombia, as well as other countries and there are always some people that I can understand and others not at all. I’m grateful when there are subtitles but then I get lazy. The one I’m watching now is “La Reina del Sur”, no subtitles and there are accents from several different countries to strain my brain with!

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