America

Interview with Mario

Mario has been to the U.S. before, but I still loving seeing things with his eyes. I remember the first time we saw a big yellow school bus, a mail truck, and the Bean. You know, typical stuff.

He’s fun to listen to when he’s talking about the U.S. to his family. Just today, he was explaining things to his father and I want to laugh because, well, it’s kind of adorable. (His dad is probably the nicest man in the world. And funny…his jokes may be corny at times, but I still laugh.)

Thus, I decided to take a leaf out of Lauren’s book and interview my Spaniard.

        • What was your first impression of Indiana? It was February, were there corn fields? I would say there were fields, vast, acres and more acres of corn fields. People driving large trucks. Cold…since it was February. Nice people. People have been really friendly to me.

          • What did you expect, food wise? Was it what you expected? [Back when I first came to the U.S. in the 1990s] I expected poor quality food, like junk food, pizza, hamburgers. It wasn’t what I expected. At all. My host mother was a great cook. We ate vegetables, a varied diet, fairly healthy. As far as with Kaley’s family, it’s the same – healthy, a good variety, and of course lots of desserts made by Kaley and her mother.

        • What were some things you just had to see? I would like to see the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park. I liked seeing New York City, which is a place most Europeans want to see. (He saw this back in the 1990s when he stayed with a host family in upstate New York.)
        • What do you like most about Indiana/the Midwest? People are friendly and honest, plus nature in general is very nice.
        • What would you miss the most about living in Spain? My family and friends.
        • What is one food you would miss if you moved here? I would miss salchichón, but not just any salchichón, the kind made by my parents.
        • Do you think Americans are like how they are portrayed on TV and in the movies? Eh, so contrary to what appears in Pedro Almodóvar’s movies, Spaniards are not like that, but many American movies reflect the way people live here (i.e., people living in houses and driving because everything’s not within walking distance). The Simpsons can serve as a good “USA for Dummies” book. This is where I first saw tailgating, yellow school buses, and yard sales.

        • Will you continue to use the term rucksack for backpack and call the movie theater “the cinema”? Why? I would still be using rucksack, but I will say movie theater. The first one to annoy you. The second one, I like it better.
He would also like to emphasize that he likes football. Both kinds.

Spanish Phrases I’ve Learned

Yesterday I wrote about the advantages and disadvantages of dating a foreigner. One is, as I’ve repeatedly said, learning a new language from said foreigner. That said, I know I have many American readers who either a) are learning Spanish or b) want to learn Spanish. I love learning new phrases from my boyfriend, ones that make no sense literally, but are used just the same. (Think “cut to the chase” – what am I cutting and what is the chase?)

I often want to learn new phrases in Spanish, but it’s not as though Mario can think of them off the top of his head (another set phrase in English!). So, I wait until they come up in conversation, as they inevitably do, and then pick his brain (+1 more for me), as you will see below. I suppose I could Google them, but the useful Spanish phrase websites are almost always written for beginners and it’s more fun this way as well as easier to remember.

Example of phrases I do not need to learn. Thanks, but no thanks.

  • a secas - Mario, of course, said this to me. Here’s how it went down, Spanglish and all. And yes, this is copy + pasted straight outta Gmail.
Mario: I hope my next mobile is a mora negra
Mario: o mora a secas
me: mora a secas?
Mario: a secas means “just that”
Mario: in this case, there’s no need to say “mora negra”
Mario: because blackberry means mora
  • pan comido - literally, “eaten bread,” but it means easy as pie / cake. Like, “Ese examen es pan comido” = “That exam will be easy as pie.”
Mario: ¿por qué es pan comido?
me: muy fácil de hacer. eso es lo que significa pan comido, ¿no? ¿fácil?
Mario: sí, aquí ya sabes que hay un culto hacia el pan
Mario: por eso, decimos pan comido
  • irse / marcharse con los bártulos a otra parte - take your stuff and go, but more in the sense of “this sucks, I’m gonna take off.” I love the word bártulos, by the way. Example from Cinco Días.
  • ser una piña - literally, “to be a pineapple,” but you use it to mean to be a tight-knit group. “Somos una piña” = “We’re tight.” Example from La Voz de Galicia.
  • a diestra y siniestra  – this one happened early on in our relationship/my Spanish learning. It means “left and right” in the sense of “The Spanish team is winning medals left and right” = “El equipo español está ganando a diestra y siniestra.” Example from El País.
So, fellow Spanish language learners / Spanish people who want to teach me a cool new phrase – what should be the next phrase I learn? I’m all ears.