Tag Archives: Spanish

Ready?

Standard

Look what I found the other day right here in Aguascalientes. Is this a sign as to where I’m going once I cross the border? For those of you who don’t know, Seahawks are Seattle’s football team in the NFL.

On the other hand, up in Canada, Manitoba just announced the loosening of Covid restrictions. My hometown is in that province and my son lives there. But it’s still a waiting game. Things appear to change daily.

I’ve done more writing in the last couple of weeks than in the entire last year. I’ve actually set aside the WIP I was working on and have shifted way back to something I started writing way back in the 70s. My characters are absolute screaming their stories to me and I’ve had to put alarms in my phone to remind me when it’s time to meet friends or even eat. Breakfast can be anytime between 5 am and 1 pm. Often the first cup of coffee is at around 3 am. And I love every minute of this chaos!

I’ve just about met my goal for Spanish this winter. Just a handful of irregular verbs left to conjugate in the simple past and perfect tenses. And my notebook will be complete. I’ve been doing more texting in Spanish and I’m even dreaming in Spanish.

Just checked the Winnipeg Free Press online. Once again they’ve quoted me. This time it’s about the effect Covid has had on my life. My claim to fame has been seeking asylum in two foreign countries during a pandemic. I guess you could say Covid has impacted my life somewhat.

I’ll leave you with this.

It’s Been A Fun Week

Standard
It’s Been A Fun Week

There is no such thing as a typical week for me here in Aguascalientes, or for that matter anywhere I live. I do not thrive on routine. To me the word “routine” is a four letter word, along with the word “normal”, neither of which can be used to describe my life.

My characters are still talking to me so I’ve been doing a lot of writing, sometimes at 4 am. I do prefer to write during the day, but after experiencing writer’s block for several months, I’m extremely grateful for writing time regardless of the hour.

I did my usual morning run to the lavenderia. The day varies as I’ve grown quite accustomed to sipping that first cup of coffee and lounging around in bed checking emails and playing Candy Crush before I head out. But when I get close to running out of clean clothes, I brave the cold 40 degree mornings and go to the lavenderia. My reward is to pick up my clothes a few hours later, clean and neatly folded and ready to be put away.

I had a four hour fitness training on Zoom the other day from Washington. It was great to connect with everyone again and I’m looking forward to teaching again when I get back.

Joanne and I hit Costco the other day and here are two of my treasures……cheddar cheese and everything bagel. No idea how many steps we got in, but it was quite a few.

Joanne and I go for some pretty wild drives and have seen some really interesting areas in this city where I’m guessing most gringas don’t venture to. But we do!ūüėú

Went for a haircut the other day. Last one with Paulina until I come back in the fall. Delighted to find a stylist here who actually knows how to layer hair like they do in the USA. And I also enjoy the banter all in Spanish.

I went to the park with Gloria and her daughter Romina. Gloria moves to Tulum next week. I will miss our intercambios and, of course, her delicious empenadas.

A project I’ve been working on this winter is condensing eleven plus years of notes on Spanish grammar and vocabulary into one notebook. And I’m almost done! It’s been a tedious task and I’m grateful to Gloria, Raul and Pedro for their help with grammar. I really understand why my students struggle with learning a second language.

I introduced my friend Carole to Country Break. We had a delightful lunch and I picked up a salad to take home. This amazing salad lasts at least three days and has become a staple in my fridge.

Time for internet church. Have a great Sunday!

This And That

Standard
This And That

Wednesday, Hump Day and January is more than half over. This week is shaping up to be a lot better than last weekend was.

I watched the two Mamma Mia movies, in Spanish of course. I love the music. The one time I saw Mamma Mia live was at the Concert Hall in Winnipeg. My daughter was with me and I recall that she introduced me to steamers during intermission.

I’ve been in writing mode and my character in crisis is finally settling down. This means less tears for me and a much improved mood. Can’t wait to head up north in March and get my hands on a laptop. I love my tablet, but it isn’t the greatest for writing.

Despite the fact that schools are closed here, it’s been quiet at the park. I enjoy the quiet as I can focus more on my Spanish grammar. I’m consolidating three notebooks I’ve compiled over the years into one and want to make sure I don’t leave out anything.

Sharon and I went out for lunch yesterday and I was delighted to find some decent pizza. However nothing compares with the woodfired pizza in Tlaquepaque. That was the best!

Speaking of Tlaquepaque, I’m planning on heading there next month to visit with friends. Other than the airport, it’s been three years since I’ve spent any time there.

Thanks to social media, this has also been the week of reconnecting with friends who I lived with over the years here in Mexico. They’re now in Bali, Australia, Texas and Maine.

My friend who makes the most amazing empenadas is in Tulum and I’m going through withdrawal. Hope she gets back soon.

Time to put on some 80s music and dive back into my writing.

Have a Wonderful Wednesday!

It Feels Strange

Standard
It Feels Strange

This is the first time in five years I’ve been in Mexico in late September. It feels strange.

Autumn Leaf Festival is happening this weekend in Leavenworth. I’m usually sitting out on the verandah of the Senior Center with friends watching the parade.

Instead, today I went to the park at the end of my street. I worked on some Spanish grammar for a while. I was about to leave when a man approached and asked if I knew the name of the park. And I don’t know the name of the park. It’s just always been the park next to the bull ring or in front of Expoplaza.

Anyways, a long conversation followed, all in Spanish of course. While we talked he kept a watchful eye on his children, ages 9 and 6, who were taking advantage of the playground structures.

He told me they had moved to Aguascalientes from Zacatecas two years ago. Zacatecas had become very dangerous because of cartel activity and was not a good place to live anymore.

He was curious as to why I had come to Aguascalientes. When I told him I was Canadian he admitted he knew next to nothing about Canada and had never even met a Canadian before.

He also told me he had never traveled outside of Mexico and didn’t speak any English at all. But he wants his children to learn English. He wanted to know if I still taught English even though I was retired. I told him Covid had put an end to that for the time being, although I have occasionally taken on private students in the past five years.

After close to an hour of conversation, he left with his kids and I headed for home. I was really pleased that my Spanish skills had improved so much that I didn’t have to ask him to speak slower or repeat himself. Not once did I say “no entiendo. “

I’ve come a long way.

Something Different

Standard
Something Different

This post is not about COVID-19 or Trump. I want to forget those for a moment and write about something completely different.

Monday night I went to a baby shower. I can’t remember the last time I went to one but I know it’s been years. It was such fun to see all the cute items for this precious new baby.

Yesterday was our exercise get together. We have now grown to five from three. My body really appreciates this as the colder weather has a tendency to stiffen up the joints.

Usually at this time of year, if I’m not already back in Mexico already, I’m shopping the summer clearance sales for clothes. Instead last week my purchases included boots, a toque, lined gloves and a cozy pullover sweater.

Although many of the trees have lost their leaves, there are still many showing off their glorious hues of red and orange. The recent rain has kept them hydrated.

While I turn to Duolingo every day and text in Spanish to some friends, I must admit I’m enjoying watching movies in English again. But I did go to my favorite Mexican restaurant last week and I always get to use my Spanish there.

I’m really enjoying my new tablet and am in the process of buying a new computer. However I became so reliant on technology is beyond me. It’s sure a different world.

And then there are the video calls. My granddaughter Madeline in Canada turns three in February and thinks her grandma lives in a phone. My grandson Juan Carlos in Culiac√°n is eleven and we converse in English regularly. Now if only I could convince my son in Canada to do video calls.

Today is another shopping trip to Wenatchee. More warm clothes for winter are very much needed. Somehow my usual wardrobe of capris and tank tops are not appropriate attire here in Leavenworth at this time of year.

The best part of being here is that I’m having a great time renewing friendships, meeting new people and making memories. My extended family just keeps on expanding. Life is more than good.

Saturday Now

Standard
Saturday Now

Saturday is a very different day than it used to be. One cup of coffee with yogurt and granola. Off in an Uber to teach English for a couple of hours.

Another Uber home and off to the carnicer√≠a. He grilled the chicken I bought for me. I’d take a walk to the bakery and do any other shopping and then return to pick up my chicken.

After lunch (yes lunchtime was at around 4 pm) I’d head to the church to teach for an hour.

In the evening I’d explore the Expoplaza area. There were always numerous food vendors. I’d watch the children ride around the square on a burro. I’d listen to music and walk through the San Marcos park.

I’d have interesting conversations with people. A handful understood minimal English but it was a great opportunity for me to practice my Spanish.

Occasionally I’d attend a birthday party or another fiesta on a Saturday evening. And there were concerts close by as well.

Saturday now is very different. Lots of time for that second cup of coffee. I can leisurely make an omelet. No rush to get dressed. No reason to call an Uber. No students to teach.

I take two walks a day. One is before it gets too hot and the other is after it cools off in the evening. Daytime highs are in the low 90s.

This is what Expoplaza area looks like now.

I color, I watch movies, I write, I phone friends and I listen to music.

Actually Saturday seems pretty much like every other weekday now.

What About Your Other Health?

Standard
What About Your Other Health?

Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Maintain social distancing. Stay at home. This is all great advice for protecting your physical health.

But what about your mental health? What are you doing to protect your mental health?

If you’re self-isolating, you spend a lot of time by yourself. This is a perfect opportunity for your brain to go into overdrive. This results in an unnecessary abundance of fear and anxiety and ultimately panic. Even if you are at home and have other family members with you, the conversation ultimately focuses on COVID-19.

The art of mindfulness and meditation are two techniques that work for me. If I’m coloring I focus on the masterpiece I’m creating. If I’m watching a movie I really listen to the Spanish and am amazed at how much better my comprehension has become.

I meditate with music and imagery. I’ve even gotten back to gazing at the flame of a candle.

I’ve replaced a great deal of my social media viewing with the above-mentioned. When I want the facts about COVID-19 I go to the Mayo Clinic website. I also participate in discussion groups on this site.

I find online Church as well as Bible study to be important. Both are a great way to stay connected. I also find them comforting.

I also spend less time on the phone although I do connect with the my family and close friends more regularly. Just as long as the conversation doesn’t focus completely on the virus.

Quite obviously I’m spending more time writing. Blog posts are every second day. I’m also working on my next book.

I make a point of going out for walks every day. I lose myself in the beauty of nature. So many trees and flowers are beginning to bloom.

I guess you could say I take a lot of time for ME and I highly recommend it.

Take time for yourself!

Today in Aguascalientes

Standard
Today in Aguascalientes

It’s hot out there. The 90s have arrived. Days like this I miss the ocean in Mazatlan.

Thursday morning there is an outdoor market in my neighborhood.

Restaurants are closed. Take out and delivery only.

Bars are closed here although my friend told me they’re still open in Leavenworth, Washington. Go figure.

Schools are closed. I haven’t heard anything about the indoor malls yet.

A friend in Zacatecas told me this morning that she couldn’t find chicken or eggs. So far we have no shortages here in Ags.

Corner tiendas are open. Note in my pics that these are not completely enclosed. Lots of fresh air gets in and social distancing is easy as there are seldom more than 2 or 3 people in them at the same time.

My saving grace are my daily coloring sessions in the park. The flowers are beginning to bloom again.

I really miss all the time I used to spend walking in and out of shops and engaging in conversation. It was a great way to socialize as well as practice my Spanish. Now most of my socializing is over the internet or on the phone.

A silver lining to every cloud……more time for writing!

So You Want To Learn Spanish

Standard

I arrived in Mexico City on a flight from Houston on November 2, 2010 and tentatively approached the Immigration area in the airport. My knowledge of “hola, adios and cerveza fria por favor” would not be of any great help here. I foolishly assumed that¬†there would be someone here who spoke English. Consequently, I left the area without the highly coveted copy of my tourist visa. But that’s a whole other story for a different blog post.

 

Living in Culiacan that year was quite the experience. This is a city where hardly anyone speaks English. The principal at the school where I taught did not even speak English. Nor did the lady whose home I shared. Nor did the staff at the grocery stores or pharmacies or bakeries or convenience stores that I frequented. But it often made for some interesting purchases.

My next job found me in Irapuato, a city considerably smaller than Culiacan. Other than the other English teachers at the school, only a handful of people who spoke English. However I was unprepared for the animosity displayed by the locals because I was a gringa, especially that of the Mexican teachers at the school. They refused to make any attempt to understand English, and instead expected the English teachers to overnight become fluent in Spanish. The hilarious part was that the school provided us with Spanish classes, but they were taught by a gringa and not a native speaker. A total waste of time as she taught only vocabulary as she herself did not know the grammar.

My next home was, and still is, Tlaquepaque, a suburb of Guadalajara. For the most part, that first year I spent my time with other English teachers who were native speakers. And we usually made ourselves understood when traveling or shopping although our knowledge of Spanish was limited.

Flash ahead and I am now in my fifth year in Mexico. I am nowhere near fluent, but I am also well beyond survival. Duolingo has become one of my best friends and we spend hours together regularly. I can definitely empathize with the difficulties my students have in learning English. Learning a new language is not easy.

 

Spanish is a beautiful language. It has a unique melody of its own. Now, if it weren’t for all the irregular verbs and the strange rules regarding pronouns and………. Yikes! I’m starting to sound like my students!