Unfamiliar Passage

by: Scott Mitchell

Language and Culture

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“Como te sientes?”

“Hmm… I actually understood that” I think to myself after my Spanish speaking friend asked it. He was asking “how are you feeling?” after I forced more food into an already full stomach. I had a large lunch of delicious Colombian food that his wife prepared just 2 hours earlier and then we came to this very small and rustic town where other family members insisted I eat more food they prepared. I answered him “bien, bien, pero tengo mucha flojera ahora” (good, good, but I’m very lazy now.)

We came to this rustic town to buy most of a pig that they would later prepare for me to try some different traditional dishes such as chicharrón (fried pork rinds) and another one that is like large chunks of bacon. I’m not much of a pork eater, but I generally always try things once at least.

I love this little town and it’s my third time here in three years. The other visits were later in the afternoon and consisted of drinking beer, dancing to vallenato, and socializing with about 30 others well into the dark evening hours. The feeling a visitor such as myself gets here is hard to explain. As the cool night begins it seems that everyone comes out of their houses more. Side streets are just a narrow dirt path and feel exactly like a jungle. Many people don’t wear shoes and they seem to move swiftly through heavy forestation and the narrow maze of paths. Some strange kind of cricket can be heard everywhere. Even the people in their living rooms are outside, because the average living room is just a concrete slab with a straw roof over it. While there are many motos and a few cars, it seems that many continue to prefer riding on horseback still. They don’t see “gringos” often here, so of course everyone is always staring at me, but I’m not bothered by it. The same happens in remote parts of Mexico and other cities here in Colombia. Family and friends of family are abundant in this town and I’m always getting many hugs and welcoming gestures. Since they know me now, it’s like I’m an actual close family member when I first arrive. The beautiful pleased looks on their faces as they run to greet me. I love this country and these people. They have now become part of who I am and they feel like my own family.

So, we began our drive back to Montería. I love long drives here because the landscape is beautiful. Small mountains, small patches of jungle, and many rustic towns and farms are a treat for my eyes. After we returned I watched my friend cut up the pig on the patio as I talked with other visitors that came to see me again while I was in town. I still can’t carry on a conversation in Spanish with them but I can often understand enough words to answer questions, but there is almost always 1 of 2 of my translators near. One of my first goals this year is to learn Spanish very well and my company just approved it as a training that they will pay for. In fact, today I just received the materials, etc. I need to get started doing it. I have many long term goals that require the completion of short term goals. I can feel things getting under way and I’m ecstatic!

Make it a great weekend everyone!

-Scott

Written by Scott Mitchell

February 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm

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