I’m not entirely sure how this has happened but I have now finished my placement in Comodoro. Time has flown and I have become quite accustomed to my Argentinian lifestyle. Eating dinner at 10.30pm isn’t weird anymore, my ability to form coherent sentences in English has dramatically decreased and this one time I made a joke in Spanish and people laughed.
My Spanish has improved a lot, given that I couldn’t remember much more than the present tense when I arrived I could only get better. Some days, I have an entirely comprehensible conversation with someone and want to update my LinkedIn profile and tell anyone who will listen that I can kind of speak Spanish. Other days, I do not have the foggiest what is going on. One of my students asked me this week when I was leaving, I replied by saying very good. Someone else asked me whether I had a drink at my host mum’s birthday party and again I replied by saying muy bien. Doble sentindo (ie. every word having two meanings) still screws me over time and time again, but these days I find myself laughing because I understand the joke rather than because the person next to me is laughing. I get great enjoyment from translating things I say in Spanish into English. I was trying to tell my host mum where the dog was and instead told her that I was outside, when I was quite obviously sat at the kitchen table. You have to have a sense of humour with this language learning lark. Last year, I remember my Spanish teacher telling us nothing teaches you more than making mistakes. Tiene razón, when you sufficiently embarrass yourself, you remember not to make the same mistake twice. For example, when I said psicópato (pyscho-duck) instead of psicópata (pyschopath).
It’s been a while since my last blog and I’ve been quite busy but also fantastically lazy too. I’ve been whale watching; lived the preparation and excitement that came with my Arg sister’s quinceañera (a 15th birthday party, think American Sweet 16 but better); attended an asado or ten; felt the hearts of millions of Argentinians break as the malditos chilenos beat them in the final of la Copa America; and then felt them break again as Messi told the world his footballing future is uncertain. We were a lively bunch watching the match, all wearing various forms of Argentinian memorabilia, eating the enormous picada which was prepared and yelling all kind of obscenities at the TV. After ninety minutes and no goals the mood dropped significantly. The final whistle blew and we literally hung our heads as if we were mourning, tears were shed, and it was a good ten minutes before I was brave enough to say anything.
In my four months here I have tried just about every Argentinian speciality going (all delicious), I might have to write a separate blog post so you can see for yourselves why I will be rolling back to England in six weeks time. One thing the Argentinians don’t eat though is breakfast. Those that know me, know that I pride myself on always eating a good breakfast. I was genuinely shocked when I found out that my brother just has a Actimel and others think a coffee is sufficient. One day last week I actually forget to have breakfast, as in I wasn’t hungry until about midday which I don’t think has ever happened to me before. I told my host family who were extremely proud as apparently I’m getting more Argentinian by the day.
My stint as an English teacher is now over. I have really enjoyed it and had lots of lovely students and colleagues. I made my debute as a puppet show star with Jode and Ailbh performing a thrilling story about cookies over 20 times; I sang ‘If you’re happy and you know it’ so many times it made me unhappy; I ran another workshop on English culture for the public and talked about tea and excessive politeness yet again. I also realised how not easy it is to teach, so muchas gracias a todos los profesores who work hard every day to get groups of, often disinterested, children, teenagers and adults to listen to them.
People are really great. I’m writing thank you cards that sound like love letters because I truly will never forget the kindness of the people I have met here. I feel at home in a house that is not my own and with family members who I’m not related too. At the end of the day, I am just a random English girl that rocked up in Argentina hoping to see some of the world and learn a bit of Spanish and I have done just that and been made to feel extremely welcome. I got the bus from Comodoro to Villa La Angostura yesterday, and won’t return for the foreseeable future. Comodoro is fairly feo so I hadn’t anticipated that the dusty city would reduce me to tears but I did. I silently bawled for at least the first hour thinking about how many people have been so kind that I have been able to make a home half way across the world.
This week I am in Villa La Angostura spending my final week with my gorgeous host family. It is beautiful and I am really looking forward to the week. I expect I will be like a leaking tap when I have to say goodbye for good. I will then be homeless in South America but I have been given a list of must see places in Argentina that I am very excited to go and visit. My co-writer (four year old brother) feels he ought to be mentioned as he has just proof read this blog (he can’t read) and is happy with the standard of English used. We have almost mastered counting to ten although seven features more frequently in his version of 1-10 than mine.
Besos y abrazos a todos (especially you clever graduates, proud of you) xxx