Thursday, February 26, 2015

Learning Spanish Like A Canadian

Canadians are a polite people, with some exceptions of course. We like to say please, thank you, excuse me, pardon me, and best of all... Sorry!
Please -- por favor
Thank you -- gracias
You're welcome -- de nada
Excuse me -- disculpe
Pardon me -- perdone, or con permiso
Sorry -- lo siento
The next thing you learn in a lot of Spanish lessons is the difference between polite or formal "you", USTED, and casual or informal "you", TU. The polite form is used to show respect for strangers, elders, and persons of authority. The informal form is used for friends, equals, and children.
How are you? (formal) -- ¿Cómo está usted?
How are you? (informal) -- ¿Cómo estás?
Do you have a map? (formal) -- ¿Tiene un mapa?
Do you have a map? (informal) -- ¿Tienes un mapa?
Did you miss that little "s"? Yeah, that's all it takes to be rude to someone! Although, I imagine most folks wouldn't be too mad about it as they will probably be able to tell you're a non-native speaker.

Here is another tip that I picked up along the way that  helped me feel that I can continue to portray myself as the truly polite and respectful Canadian that I am.
"Quiero un café, por favor." This translates to "I want a coffee, please."
In Canada, if a waiter asked you, "What would you like to drink?" and you replied, "I want a coffee," it would seem a bit brusque. We are more likely to say, "I would like a coffee, please." Or even just, "Coffee, please." Literally translated into Spanish, that would be, "Me gustaria un café, por favor," or "Café, por favor." But apparently no one says that in Latin America. It would sound strange or rude. So to fit in, start with, "Quiero."
Thank you to Ana at Butterfly Spanish for this tip!

Some other useful Spanish phrases for all the Canucks out there!
I am Canadian -- Soy canadiense.
I'm from Canada -- Soy de canada.
It's so hot today! -- Hace tan calor hoy!
I'm hot. -- Tengo calor.
(For more instructions on feeling hot and being hot, watch Ana's video!)
Beer, please. -- Quiero una cerveza, por favor?
I would like a bottle of water, please. -- Quiero una botella de agua, por favor.
Do you know how to play hockey? -- ¿Sabe usted cómo jugar hockey?
This coffee is almost as good as Tim Hortons! -- Este café es casi tan bueno como Tim Hortons!
Final bit of advice: try to learn as much Spanish as you can before you go, but remember to cut yourself some slack if you don't understand a lick anyone is saying when you arrive at your Spanish-speaking destination. Learning from videos or programs is way easier than the real world because everyone talks slowly and enunciates. However, immersion and practice in the real world will vastly accelerate your skills! Buena suerte!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Slight Panic Attack

Today I bought the plane tickets to Guatemala. I wanted to cheer and/or throw up.

Both Bert and I have been having minor panic attacks. Every now and then, one of us will turn to the other and say something like, "We're crazy! Are we crazy? We're crazy." Or, "Nope, can't do it. Changed my mind."
So far, the un-panicked person has been good at reassuring the panicked person!

Here are a list of various things I'm freaking out about:
Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanoes, mudslides, hurricanes, floods, and the sudden outgassing of the lake leading to carbon dioxide poisoning and death.
Crazy and/or criminal people trying to do unpleasant things to me, like robbing all my stuff, or stabbing me, or shooting me, or stabbing me then shooting me, or other nasty things that I try not to think of too much.
Getting sick from the food and water. (Undrinkable tap water? What's the point of having water come out your tap if it's not potable?)
Clogging the toilet. Can't flush toilet paper? Ewww.
Dying in an accident while riding a chicken bus.
Getting hit by a chicken bus while walking.
A chicken bus driving off a road and into my house, crushing me in my bed while I sleep.
(Chicken buses are scary.)
Being overwhelmed with sadness at the stray dogs.
Being overwhelmed by the poverty.
Getting killed because I inadvertently offend someone. I do that here now and people just shake their heads, or nod and smile and back away slowly. I'm notorious for saying the wrong thing and silencing an entire dinner party!
Unstable Internet; When I was making this list, the first thing I thought of was "unstable Internet". Ha! But it's because of work and communication and information and fun-time. If my Internet goes down, I don't work, and I don't make money, and we can't eat. NEED INTERNET.

When I get panicked, here is what I tell myself to calm down:
LOTS of people have done what we're doing. Heck, even OLD people do it. If those retirees from Florida can do it, why can't I?

Tickets are bought. Apartment is paid for.
No backing out now!
56 more days.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Rose-Coloured Glasses vs. Shades of Doom

I have learned that I'm a tad idealistic. (*snort* Understatement of the year!) My abundant optimism helps me to take risks, have adventures, and laugh when things don't turn out as expected.
However, I do need a more practical person in my life to point out that not everything is sunshine and rainbows. Bert is perfect for that!

Me: (*big goofy smile*) Guatemala is going to be so awesome! Look at these beautiful pictures online! Read this awesome blog post! There are Internet cafes everywhere! Wow, such a beautiful volcano! Ooh, look at the monkeys!

Bert: (*scowley face*) There is rampant crime in Guatemala. We're going to get kidnapped if we go there. That blogger sounds naive. It's going to cost too much. We're going to die when that volcano erupts. Monkeys bite.

When I was younger, I would get frustrated at people who were such downers. (To be honest, I sometimes still get frustrated! Occasionally, I'll ask Bert to "say one thing positive, please!")
But having become more wise in my "old" age, I can recognize when people bring up legitimate concerns that I shouldn't be ignoring. By paying attention to his pessimism/realism, I can see where I need to be a bit more cautious or perhaps plan a bit more, rather than jumping ahead with my big silly grin and ending up face-down in the mud.

It's all about balance, isn't it?

UPDATE: Bert just said to me: "I've always wanted to do something like this but I've never found anyone crazy enough to do it with."