By Medicine Hat News on August 10, 2017.
It’s been a hot summer — temps above 30 C have been the norm, not the exception. So this is maybe not the best idea I ever had: I’m taking some vacation days down near the equator … the even hotter (and far more humid) Costa Rica. Part of the reason is my friend just bought a bar down there. Another reason is I got such a stellar deal on flights — Aeromexico now flies out of Calgary through Mexico City — but it’s also because I really need to work on my Spanish.
If you’ve ever studied a foreign language you know it’s about as easy as getting a conservative to compliment Premier Rachel Notley (or a left-winger to say anything good about Jason Kenney). It’s really, really hard. You learn a few words and even conjugate a couple of verbs and think you’ve really made some progress. But then you try to have a conversation with someone and its blank-stare city. It just happens so quickly that it’s almost impossible to comprehend. Not to mention, those few words you’ve crammed into your cranium disappear as quickly as you put them up there if you don’t use them. I know we have some Spanish speakers around the Hat, but it’s not something you likely find yourself immersed in on a daily basis.
I really encountered this when I met up with a Mexican rock band that’s been touring Western Canada this summer — La Trez Cuartoz. They’re an incredibly talented group from Puerto Vallarta who play rock ‘n’ roll for tourists at a few different bars in that city. These guys do everything from Dire Straits to Metallica — and they do it very well. Plus, they’re a solid bunch of guys and their drummer has even sat in with Steel Panther on occasion! You should really go and see them when they play the Mainliner over Labour Day long weekend.
I caught their show in Lethbridge earlier this month — and my promoter/friend introduces me as “this guy will speak Spanish with you!” We quickly realized that their English was about 10 000 times more proficient than my Espa–ol (kind of like how superior their musical skills are to my annoyingly pathetic missing of the beat on my bongo drums.) I could throw out the odd phrase, but it was far from anything that’d sustain a conversation.
So it’s back to apps like Duolingo and Language Zen — YouTube videos like Gringo Spanish and Butterfly Spanish; hoping to pick up a word here and there and having one or two stick up in the grey matter. Maybe, just maybe, by the time I hit my amigo’s cantina in Jaco, Costa Rica — The Beer House — I’ll be able to say something more than “Una mas cerveza, por favor.” Tal vez (maybe)É
Trapper John can be heard on 105.3 ROCK and http://www.rock1053.ca weekdays from 3-7 p.m. and Saturday afternoons. You can also find him on twitter @TrapperCR.
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