Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Learning Spanish with real life experiences

Learning a foreign language can be a daunting challenge, but it is also a rewarding experience. Certain words become seared into your mind because of some incidents that happen along the way. And, so it was with me….

I was in Segovia Spain during one of those wet and rainy nights common in Segovia the Summer of 73. I was accompanied by two Segovian ladies, one on each side. I carried the umbrella – the gentleman I was. Life couldn't have been more perfect.

As we trekked a little further towards the plaza de Azoquejo on La Calle Boceguillas (the name was later changed to La Calle Vía Roma to mark the bimillenium of the Roman aqueduct), One of the girls shouted in typical Castellian, "¡Marcos, ¡cuidado un charco! Or for the less erudite, "Mark watch out a mud puddle!" Well, at the time, I did not know the word for mud puddle in Spanish, so I turned and responded, "¿un qué?" The rain continued to spatter against the ground muffling most of our conversation, but I didn't have time to hear the response anyway. With my next step, I caught my foot against a pebble, and I began to fall in slow motion or so it seemed into a small patch of water, or a gargantuan lake as my mind would perceive. The water splashed against my clothes seeping into every little tear and crevice it could find making the umbrella just another vain attempt at keeping myself dry. Needless to say, I was one sopping mess. Out of the corner of my ear, I finally heard the response to my question as I looked up in embarrassment, "¡un charco!"

I learned the word, "charco" or "mud puddle" that day always grateful for that one indelible moment, and a rainy night in Segovia.


Anonymous said...

Funny story Uncle Mark:)

Virginia Gómez said...

Wow, "mud puddle", it sounds too beautiful for "charco".

Two days ago, when I left Segovia, it was snowing but, unfortunately, in the last years we´ve been having lost of problems because of the lack of water... I wish I could find mud puddles more often.

Via Roma, that´s the street that go straight down to my house. I´ve walked on it thousands of times, but I never get bored... the Aqueduct, the Cathedral on the top, the Romanic churches... the view in the way is incredible.

Regards, Mark


DanielleV said...

I will always remember the word for Peach, because my teacher Mr. Dorazio once said "You will always remember the word for peach, el durazno. Because it sounds like Dorazio, and a peach!"

What's funny about that is now I'm seeing "melocatón" as the translation...hmm.

Mark and Jeanine said...


Well that is funny. You are right both mean peach. Some countries use one word and in other countries, the other word is more popular. Melocton is mostly used in Spain

Virginia Gómez said...

I was surprised when I read it! Tha name "Via Roma" is very popular, even at school my teachers didn´t told me the old name... no many people may know it.

Calle Infanta Isabel, I have no doubt you know is called "Calle de los bares". It has come into fashion now and youngers hang out there during the weekend. Ten years ago my uncle opened a hotel right thre (Hotel Infanta Isabel) and you may know the hundred-year-old fruit store in calle San Frutos, next to the Cathedral. That´s my mum´s treasure!


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