Friday, September 16, 2011

El Jangueo.

(Puerto Rican 'word' from janguear= to hangout)... Spanglish at its finest.

             My one complaint is that I am not getting enough exposure to it. It is too easy to speak English here and I just wish it could be all Spanish all the time! So, since I don’t have enough friends here that will speak Spanish with me, I have decided to befriend a Spanish diary. It never corrects my grammatical errors or answers back, but other than that its just as good as a conversation buddy. But, en serio, It is really fun to actually write about fun things informally instead of only writing for homework assignments. I get to practice just the language and not have to worry about any content whatsoever.
          Something really weird that I have noticed is that my English is getting worse. Not from speaking Spanish, unfortunately, but from hanging out with a German. I notice that every time I spend the weekend with Esther, Andy’s friend from Germany, I catch myself saying things really oddly, as though English is not my first language. It is kind of funny. It is also really interesting to compare her learning English to my learning of Spanish. She is years and years of practice better than I am, but I still get to teach her fun words like “lady bug” and “cuddle.” I taught her the difference between lettuce and salad as well. When she struggles a little bit with a sentence I can only imagine how awful I must sound in Spanish.


                I’m really liking my anthropology class, It’s easy to follow along and if I get distracted and stop actively listening I always have the textbook in English that I can read. My profesora does like to call me out in class, however. One time we were discussing race and it was just for being a ‘gringa’ in the middle of a room full of darker skinned people. That was really awkward… and then one time she decided to advertise my friendship to the class, saying that I didn’t have a family here so they should invite me home for dinner…that was even more awkward. But, I smiled eagerly/creepily and I have received a few offers since!
     A really ironic thing happened to me one day in Anthropology and I learned a huge lesson about ethnocentrism. As I sat in wonder looking at the completely shaven legs of the guy next to me, I started thinking about how strange it was and how it made me a little uncomfortable. Then, I felt like a huge ignorant brat because I looked up at the board and the word “ETHNOCENTRISM” was just looking back at me in disappointment. I thought about it, and although I don’t find it particularly attractive, it is just part of hygiene to some people here and the hairy legs of men from the US are probably revolting to them. Thanks anthropology, for the morality check.

     Spanish-American literature is getting so much better! Side note: I should really be reading for it right now... Sometimes the homework is tedious and if I don’t have to read another extensive description of los Indios, I will be alright. It is a huge challenge though, and a great time commitment. It confines me to a corner of the library with my dictionary and highlighter for hours at a time.

       I love this class! Apparently everyone else hates it…but It’s the only class where I can literally understand everything she is saying and it all makes sense. I love to study for it so I feel like I should definitely be able to do well. It all seems really relevant too, so every tiny tidbit I learn about the language feels like a gigantic, important discovery.

       My English for Teenagers class is turning out to be a strangely good experience as well. It is geared towards native Spanish speakers who want to become teachers of English as a second language. I realized that a lot of that class applies to me because I am going to teach the same thing, just the other way around. It gives tips for both language teachers and language learners in general. Watching people try to improve their English is really interesting and I feel like I can totally relate to and validate all their difficulties. I am really thankful I took this class. Plus, the teacher is from Chicago so she really likes me!

 Kayaking in Boquerón
      The exchange coordinator took us on a Kayaking trip to Boquerón, a cute little beach town nearby. Only 3 of us ended up going along, and we had the best time ever! We kayaked for a little while through really clear water, you could look down and see the reefs on the ocean floor! Our guide tried to point out a sea turtle to us, but I missed it! I was disappointed. After a bit we pulled over to a little bay where he gave us snorkels and goggles and we spent about an hour just exploring and following little fish around! I held a sea cucumber and some sea urchins, and this weird starfish that was green really lanky and kept trying to crawl all over my hand. Once we got to the real reefs, it so was amazing to see the little communities of fish all hanging out in their own little world, and I do hope they appreciate how freaking cool their neighborhood is. Then we became lazy and laid in the water by the shore for a bit. Kayaking, playing with sea critters, and relaxing in the tide may have been just the right ingredients for a perfect day. =)
      Our kayak guide man told us about this old infamous pirate of Bahía Boquerón named Roberto Cofresí. He was basically the Robin Hood of Puerto Rico and gave a lot of his riches to his family and friends. He’s all the rage down here. 

Caracoles otra vez!
    I went back to my favorite place ever, Caracoles! This time, it was completely different from the first time that I fell out of the tree. There were probably 20-30 boats anchored around the little island, and everyone was in the water just hanging out, drinking, and eating. There was a little boat that was selling burgers or something, so you could just swim up and order your lunch! I thought it was great! This is the bad picture that I took on my phone...

Esther and I were dropped off here for the day while the boys went spear fishing. We bought $2 kids goggles and entertained ourselves for hours looking at fish and swimming 'laps' in the currents. Side note: Esther taught me how to swim butterfly! My swim team coaches gave up after years of failed attempts to teach me, but she did it right away! Better late than ever!

I have mucho más to say, but I'll save it for the next post. My Spanish-American literature readings are guilt tripping me.