Thursday, March 17, 2016

Learning the Language of Love

Wow, there really is nothing like being immersed in another language. Have you ever had the chance? Let me tell you, it takes a bit of confidence and a lot of desire. Being out of one's normal environment, having no one to ask for clarification about what you hear or what you say, and wanting to keep trying even when it feels like one big epic fail. Or at least, those are some of the emotions/reactions I'm dealing with  :-)
Despite my efforts to prepare in advance by trying to learn more Spanish than I felt I had the last trip out, I still falter for understanding and for how to express my answers when I actually do know what is being asked. I'm really glad my dream was just to be able to sit and hold hands with mi abuela, and not to have long drawn out conversations about the history of our family, or I would have been even dissappointed! Oh, the words I thought I had learned though... why are they so quick to fly from my thoughts when I try to recall them?!
I love knowing that my grandmother doesn't get so frustrated with my attempts that she stops our talking. Nope, she chatters away in her sweet but scratchy voice with a smile, starting with a hug hello in the morning and ending with a "buenas noches mija!" just before I turn off the light. Over cafe en la manana, we smile and exclaim about los pan deliciosos, about la temperatura de cafe ("Mija, tu cafe no es caliente! Si, Abuelita eta bien por yo!") y de leche, which she thinks  I want, even though I told her it makes my stomach hurt. Or did I..? Again, it is hard to know what I say back, what she can hear, etc. Yet, last night and today we bonded over the same things that people all over the world connect with no matter the culture- food preparation.
Last night we agreed to cook some vegetables, including the papas y ajo, bollo, tomate, y chayote, a native invasive vine that produces a yummy yummy fruit. Boiled, it's sort of like a potato in consistency and a zuccini in taste. She had one on the counter when I arrived with spikes on it's rind, and my father picked another from the yard which had a smooth skin. Not sure what the difference is, perhaps it has to do with when it is picked, or there could be different varieties.
After a full two days of travelling, I was hoping to sleep in, and lucky for me I had a chance to sleep in until...7. I almost even fell back asleep- now I know I'm sleepin' at grandmas! Once up, I quietly gathered my cleaning supplies and headed for la cocina. The potatoes when into a pan of agua to boil, but I wasn't sure what to do with the chayote... but I soon learned through verbal exchange enhanced by example :-) It gets the top cut off, diced lengthwise in four, and into a pot of water it goes for a boil. Watch out for those pokey things- ouch! When it's cooked to completion, the flesh peels right out of the skin like an acorn squash.  It's experiences in dining like this that make me yearn for the ability to bring home a taste for mi familia.
Since that is really really against the law, I'm content to share these delicious foods with mi abuela en ella cocina. The foods she cooks are so much like mine; chicken, rice, vegetable soup. The exotic inclusions bring as much flavor to the food as her added helpings of the most special ingredient of all, love, do.
Now if I can just get her to understand about the cow's milk... y no mas tortillas, por favor!

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