29 October 2012

What is a Taco?

Why Good Evening! (format question: does one capitalize all of the words in a letter opening? Who knows...)

I don't feel like writing a super long and detailed description today, but I want to give you all some idea of what it is like to try and speak another language all the time. Chilean Spanish is very different than any Spanish I've ever studied/spoken before. One of the main problems is vocabulary because most things have different names here. Even thought I am pretty confident in my ability to speak there are always words and situations tripping me up. I will explain with a story:

One day I was on the metro during rush hour. The train was so full that I had no room at all to move. I was listening to the conversations around me when I heard the following exchange (in Spanish) from two women next to me:

Woman 1: I hate tacos!
Woman 2: I know I really hate tacos too!
Woman 1: I wish I never had to deal with a taco again!

Obviously I was enormously confused. Why did these women hate tacos so much? What was there actually to hate about a taco? During the rest of my trip home I convinced myself that I just heard the conversation wrong. That night at home, my host sister made the following comment:

"I was stuck in a taco for an hour today!"

It was clear to me in that moment that I maybe was missing a piece of information so I asked, what is a taco? It turns out that in Chile the word "taco" means a traffic jam. Actually a taco can also be the heel of a shoe or a stack of office papers (like a pad of post-its). Even though I now know what a taco is I still get a kick out of coming home and telling my host mom that the bus was stuck in a taco for half an hour.

As always e-mail me any time at smiller@lclark.edu!

With love from Chile,