Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Estamos Aprendiendo

"Have you noticed that every time we go to ExPat night it rains like the dickens and we come home soaked to the skin?" Shelley asked Brian.

"My pants are soaked! Can you believe this rain?" Brian answered absent mindedly.

"Do you think it's a sign?"

"What sign?"

PS:- ExPat night was going to be held at Zoe but when we arrived there a volunteer was stationed to direct people back to La Parola. There's loyalty, politics & it's probably an Ecuador thing too. Nevertheless, back to La Parola it was and is.

Down at the main square on Sunday we saw the Elite Band. Trained in North American ways to the 3 minute song, we both commented on the endurance salsa, with the tunes lasting 12 to 18 minutes. The energy is amazing! We sat in the sun listening until we got light headed and then moved to the shade for awhile. As a pick-me-up we went for something to drink. Shelley had an iced cappuccino as she's been missing her Ice Caps. It was wasn't a Tim Horton's; more like a milk shake. It was good but she told Brian to never let her buy another one ever again.

There's graffiti here but it's seems to be less than what's in Vancouver. It's our understanding Vancouver is pretty good graffiti wise, so we guess Cuenca is great. However, something we did notice during our vacation here last February/March and since we've been back: they graffiti the large succulent plants. Permanently carved into the large cactus and succulent leaves you'll often see Juan & Maria are an item and political slogans and such things.

We're starting to notice we're loosing our tourist eyes. Things that may have disturbed us (guns on hips) or was very conspicuous (unfinished buildings) are now merely part of the landscape. The cracked & crumbling sidewalks are just part of the way things are and even the indigenous people in their different costumes doesn't rubber neck us any more. There's a sign in most banks that we've been trying to subtly get a picture of but haven't managed yet. You know: a picture of a soft drink in a cup, in a circle with a line through it - no drinks, no baseball caps, no cameras, no handguns. Shelley continues to be somewhat conspicuous with her grey/white hair. Do the people of South American dye their hair more or are they just genetically lucky and don't go grey as often?

And then there's the gut wrenching panic attacks that come on unexpectedly when once again the realization hits you that you've left your home land and cut ties with all that is familiar. Although her children are grown, Shelley is haunted from time to time being so far away from them. Although our apartment is wonderful and our neighbourhood very accommodating, Brian still spends hours pouring over boat pictures on the internet. We tell Ecuadorians that Canada is a country of immigrants. In Vancouver, riding on the bus, it's not unusual to hear 3 or 4 different languages. Shelley is 3rd generation Canadian, Brian 4th or 5th, but we both had a soft spot for 1st generations, helpful with the language, understanding of the cultural shock. It took coming here to really understand a large part of what they were feeling; happy to be in their wonderful new country but often missing the old.

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Even more Spanish: There are 3 main types of verbs, -ir, -ar & -er. The ending of these verbs have different forms: e.g. -ir verb Escribir (to write). I write, yo escribo; you (informal) write, tu escribes; you (formal) or he/she writes, used/el/ella escribe; we write, nosotros/as escribimos; you all or they write, ustedes/ellos/ellas escriben. Alas, not all verbs follow a regular pattern. Those that don't are called irregular verbs. There are 2 main types of irregular verbs. First there are the so-called stem-changing verbs. The verbs take the same endings as the regular verbs but the root (or stem) changes slightly. Stem-changing verbs are divided again into 3 more groups: e>ie, 0>ue and e>i. Then there are irregular verbs where the first person singular is the only irregularity. All the "yo" (I) forms have a "g" in the middle. e.g. Hacer (to do) - yo hago (I do).

Every time we talk to an Ecuadorian and tell them Spanish is hard for us to learn, they laugh and scoff us. We usually then go on to modify the whole thing and explain it's harder when you're old like we are. Again, they laugh and scoff us. We continue with our lessons. We are getting better. One of the biggest problems we're having now is that whoever we're talking to can't believe we're talking Spanish and therefore can't hear us. We'll repeat our phrase over and over again until they "get" it and repeat it back to us all amazed. Then we all have a good laugh.

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