That’s how they laugh in Argentina. That’s the first line of any email from Elena on receipt of another three laboured lines from me in Spanish.

Elena and P, Bo Gardens, Chicago
Elena and P, Bo Gardens, Chicago

My young tutor Pia from Chile has been excellent. She hasn’t laughed at the knots I’ve tied in her language. She makes me feel I’m communicating. I can probably poner los vegetales en la cosina (put the veges in the kitchen) when I visit Elena in two weeks, and possibly mention las pinguinas de ojos amarillas (yes, the yellow-eyed ones), but knowing what she says in reply is another matter all together. In real life people speak fast and run their words together — and I’ll have to resort to counting on fingers, smiling, pen and paper, and if all else fails, tears.

It’s only fair that I try, though, to speak in Spanish. Until now our friendship (we met in Iowa) has been conducted in English, which is hard work for E. We’ve written our novel each in our own language, and had it translated back and forth. Now we have to practise subtlety together, as we examine its themes and polish the translations. The more skilled I am with my little Spanish-English dictionary the better.

Hay peligro de aludes? (Is there a danger of avalanches?)


4 responses to “Amigas”

  1. ‘Practicing subtlety’ – oh yes.

    And if avalanche (PHYSICS) can mean ‘a cumulative process in which a fast-moving ion or electron generates further ions or electrons by collision’ then may your meeting with Elena contain elements of this most enervating and productive kind! L, C

  2. Our son is also learning to speak Spanish ready for his trip to Chile. Meanwhile … we are trying to brush up on the smattering of Japanese we learnt earlier in the year. Foreign languages are a whole new world!