Some people believe that when you start dreaming in a foreign language that means you are becoming fluent in it. Well, I’ve had my fair share of Spanish dreams, but I know that I am far from fluent. Sometimes I wake up not even understanding what was said. Maybe my dreams are only trying to encourage me to keep working on my Spanish, and then I will be able to translate my nighttime visions into something more meaningful.
After studying the language on and off for five years, I’m not surprised that it has made its way into my dreams. It only happens about once a week, and I think it started right before I left Ohio for Mérida. Logically thinking I would have to blame it on anxiety and apprehension, but that’s really no fun – I would much rather believe that I’m close to fluent in such a romantic language. Wouldn’t you?
My first two weeks in Mérida have been full of fresh memories and strange but exciting surprises. The group (about 45 Ohio University students including myself) has already traveled to an archaic Mayan cave and two Mayan ruins. A few days ago we went to a local University to speak Spanish to its students while they practiced their English on us. Their campus was gorgeous and very open, and the 80 degree weather didn’t damper anyone’s mood, either.
I have decided that it is significantly more difficult to understand people who speak Spanish who are close to my age more so than the adults. It makes sense, though – imagine your closest group of friends talking a mile a minute and using your specialized phrases and vocabulary, which are far from what everyone learned in Spanish 101. I will never forget that biblioteca (library) was one of the first Spanish words I learned; yet it has only been referenced once since I have been down here and that was when the students from the University were showing me where it was during the campus tour. Now I realize why it was suggested to watch some Telenovelas (Spanish soap operas) before I left so I could get use to the speed at which young people like to chat.
No complaints here, though – I know I’m improving. I have also come to appreciate the Mayan culture that is still present around the Yucatan Peninsula. Everything including the food, clothing and speech is a bit different than the other parts of Mexico. All people have a deep sense of pride in the area’s past and continue to reflect that through their actions and beliefs. It’s quite inspiring.
Every now and then my host Mama will teach my roommate and I a Mayan word or cook a Mayan meal. “Sólo en el Yucatán,” she says. Only in the Yucatan can I munch on the most delicious panuchos in all of Mexico. Only in the Yucatan can I learn about the legend of Sac-Nicté, princess of the Mayapán people who was kidnapped by the king of Chichén-Itzá.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll start to study the Mayan language more seriously. It does seem like a large feet for now, but if I start dreaming in Mayan I’ll be sure to let you know!