72: Leon, Granada
I’ve now taken five days of Spanish classes and have lived with my gracious host family the entire time. Ninety percent of the day I speak and hear Spanish, almost to the point that I understand 20% of Spanish television and my favorite telenovela is Donde Esta Elisa?
After class today I went to the lavenderia because while I can wash my own laundry it’s not worth the energy – in Central America laundry service is only a few dollars. Also, I’m notoriously bad at anything to do with cleaning. In my first week I tried to handwash some t-shirts and was left with soap stains on clothing that didn’t smell the freshest.
At the lavenderia I asked the man, who didn’t look local, if he spoke English and he responded “a little” and then inquired if I spoke French. This wasn’t unusual as I’ve seen the Alliance Francaise here along with a few other French organizations. It turns out the man was from Paris but now living here; although he still remembers that there is a cafe in Paris named Angelina and it has the best hot chocolate.
I told him in French that I was from Canada and while I was anglophone I also spoke French. Well at least that was what I intended to do. As it turns out the entire phrase was Spanish and when I tried to correct myself and continue in French only Spanish words came to mind.
I wanted to tell him that because French and Spanish were so similar, it was helpful to know French while I studied Spanish. But at that moment I had forgotten the 10+ years of French I had learned and any attempt to access a phrase only returned Spanish vocabulary.
And so I continued to talk in Spanish; it just flowed from my mouth as my mind was desperately seeking French.
When I returned I tried to thank him, but again no merci, only gracias.
I don’t know if this is a sign that my brain is finally grasping Spanish or that, at 32, I’ve reached my memory limit and from now on a new language will need to replace an old one. At the moment if I had to choose between the two, I’d have to say I’m okay with replacing French as Spanish is more useful.