Monday, March 10, 2008

Notes from the road

I often get asked if I speak Mexican. And every time, even though I’m used to it by now, I never quite know what to say. I’m very polite about it and I guess I hem and haw and come up with some kind of answer that doesn’t make the asker feel like an idiot.

Nights like tonight make me feel sorry for the people who ask that question. Tonight, I spent the evening with:

A jovial Nicaraguan, who is the class clown and keeps us all laughing on the long, long bus rides.

A Costa Rican, who is more of a serious guy and is needled mercilessly by the Nicaraguan but takes it all in stride.

A preppy Peruvian, who constantly talks to his wife on his cell phone.

An Argentinean, who has become the group mother and has proudly shown us all pictures of her children, who she obviously loves and misses more than anything.

A Bolivian, who seemed so reserved at first but has loosened up so much that everyone else is joking about the coca leaves he must have stashed in his luggage.

A brassy Honduran woman, who tells us about the tough times she’s going though.

An man who is, in fact, Mexican and proud of it, who plays the sax and has a wonderful singing voice.

A super-classy Ecuadorian, who is a total fashion plate and always has a million-dollar smile for everyone.

A Salvadoran woman, who is shy and sweet and a great dancer.

A Venezuelan, who has beat the odds to get where she is professionally and tells us all stories about what life in her country is like.

There was music, dancing, and singing, lots of talking and joking around. The two songs we all knew the words were “Querida” by Juan Gabriel and “Un Buen Perdedor” by Franco de Vita, and we sang them--loudly--for all we were worth.

They are attorneys, judges and law professors in their countries. Yes, we all speak Spanish. Not Mexican. No, we are not all alike. They have to explain their legal systems to each other and I often have to ask them for clarification when they use terminology from their countries that I don’t understand. I have more in common with the Central Americans and less with the South Americans, but we understand each other and learn from each other. It is a never-ending learning process for me—for all of us—one that started when I first became interested in interpreting. I love learning the vocabulary they use, hearing stories about life in their countries firsthand.

I miss my boys terribly, and I try not to think about it too much and instead focus on the fact that I’ll be home in less than a week. In many ways, traveling and being away from them for so long is such a sacrifice. But in many others, it’s such a privilege.

1 comment:

Snickollet said...

I love this post.

I know this will sound strange, but miss your boys for me a little bit, would you? The few times I've been away from the twins, I've been so sleep-deprived and ready for a break that I haven't gotten to the point of really, truly missing them. I'd like to know what that feels like.

Looking forward to that CR coffee!