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Spanish with The King in Panama

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Written by Matt   
Thursday, 09 October 2008 07:53
Devotion to Spanish Panama El ReyI've never been the kind of American to overly commit himself in the language department when abroad. Against what's recommended in cultural immersion books and on the back of cereal boxes, troche I always figured simply immersing oneself in a culture would transmit, malady through a process I envisioned looking like osmosis, cialis the improved ability to speak a foreign language whether you wanted it to happen or not. That being said, there are varying levels of dedication.

I was in a supermarket called The King on Via Espana when I heard a voice from behind me in line at checkout. "Como estas muchacho?" The voice said to me. "Donde estoy?"

While my Spanish isn't excellent by any means, I am, at times, able to pass as a mildly retarded Argentinean. I am also proficient enough in Spanish to identify immediately when someone else doesn't know how to speak it. "How are you boy?" the kid had said to me. "Donde estoy?"

He was a backpacker looking fellow with the kind of beard and odor that said he toured several months back with The Flaming Lips. He had meant to say where are you from or de donde eres but what came out instead was a puzzling sort of brainteaser, especially from some dude behind you in line at checkout; Where am I?

"Where are you? You're right here, standing in front of me buddy," I wanted to tell him. "What do you mean where are you?"

Assured further that he wasn't a native Spanish speaker by his I attended Melissa's Bat Mitzvah in 1995 t-shirt, I answered, to save us both the trouble, in English. "I'm from New Jersey. Central Jersey actually in a town called Princeton. How bout yourself?"

"Es bueno. Es muy bueno" the guy said. "Yo estoy de los estados unidos tambien y yo estoy de Ca-li-fornia?" He pronounced the word California slowly and emphatically, an obnoxious tactic that transported me back to a restaurant kitchen I worked in college. The owner of the restaurant had an offensive ignorance to him and it was not common for him to speak to the kitchen crew, all of whom were Guatemalan, but all of whom also spoke perfect English, like they were babies or dogs. " favor" he used to say.

The backpacker continued the conversation in broken Spanish until I decided it was time to go. What to him must have seemed like unparalleled devotion to learning a language came off to me as annoying and try-hard. The only people in Panama who require you to speak Spanish are the ones who don't know any alternative.

Taxi drivers, waiters, strippers: they all love practicing their English on gringos and here I was forced to speak Spanish at The King by a braided-haired Middlebury grad. Wanting to learn Spanish in Panama is great. But when you want to do it too badly, you embarass yourself.

Comments (2)Add Comment
al rey jajaja
written by DDDDD , October 09, 2008
you're hilarious smilies/smiley.gif love your blog, been there done that; w/ the same kind of dirty dudes; next time try to recommend febreeze; it work fast jajaja
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written by temp , January 05, 2009
"mildly retarded Argentinean"

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Last Updated on Thursday, 09 October 2008 08:00