One month in, and I’m embarrassed to say that time is still proving quite the little enigma. Since my last post discussing ‘ahora’ and ‘ahorita’, ‘un rato’, ‘un ratito’ and ‘ya’ have all been added to the equation, meaning that despite learning more Spanish vocabulary, discussing short term plans is in fact increasingly impossible! So ‘un rato’ is supposedly a short while and ‘un ratito’ a shorter while. And ‘ya’ is the closest thing to British right now, although it technically translates as ‘already’. Yep. What the…?! And this is a hurdle I face at least twice a day. It’s just something I never even thought about at home. “Lunch will be ready at 2.” “Ready to leave in 5 minutes?” “See you in 10.” It’s never vague. I try to stick to using this method of asserting specific times but I think it makes me seem very strange: why is this girl so moronically obsessed with exact timings?!
At least I know what time I need to be at work and what time to leave: a schedule, hurrah! What a relief to know where I’m supposed to be and when! I am working in a school and orphanage with the youngest class of six-year-olds. And while the debate in anthropology between cultural relativism and cultural universalism rolls on seemingly for ever more, one thing is undeniable: children are charming beyond words, everywhere. The adorability of the children is just one of many similarities between the school in Mexico and schools in the UK. The children are impeccably turned out upon arrival and leave grubby from head to toe; they’re eager to help and even more eager to please; they’re usually happier scrabbling around on the floor than in their seats; the girls have pretty bows in their hair and the boys are more inclined to push and shove; music lessons inevitably turn into a completely uncontrollable riot; and the classroom is frequently filled with the waft of little bottoms.
Despite my appalling lack of Spanish, I’ve found that being armed with an open pencil case has an international language of its own, which has absolutely saved my bacon!
I would like to share a classic teaching scenario that has had me laughing ever since:
¿Qué rima con Victoria?
Qué rima con Fernanda?
“¿Qué rima con Kevin?
In English: the teacher asks for words that rhyme with the children’s names, only for a little girl to reply to “what rhymes with Kevin?” with “PEANUT!” No, Camila, peanut does not rhyme with Kevin!
Outside the classroom, I’m essentially an overgrown toy to play with, and can most often be found being tickled and poked with jabby little fingers, or yanked about along with cries of “¡es mía!” “¡no es mía!” I’d be lying if I said I minded.