This week we have been staying on Lake Atitlan completing orientation. Over the course of this week, women from the community have been coming to the house to prepare and share meals with us. Every meal has been absolutely delicious; especially the hibiscus tea that they made – it might just be my new favorite drink.
One of the women that stood out as extremely warm and welcoming was Andrea. One night as they were making dinner, Andrea was mashing the black beans in the traditional way with a rolling pin style stone. We were watching and very curious, Alexis went up to her and said, “Qué?” While gesturing to the beans. Andrea said, “frijoles” and demonstrated how she was mashing the beans. We walked away satisfied with the interaction; however, a few minutes later I was still super intrigued with the process and really wanted to try it for myself. It took a little convincing, but I formulated some sentences in my head and asked Andrea, “Puedo tratar este?” (Can I try this please). Andrea excitedly motioned for us to try mashing the beans – but we weren’t at her skill level so we could only try with the already mashed beans. 🙂
It was fun to try, not only because it was a traditional way to cook, but also Andrea’s energy made us feel more welcomed and comfortable. Moments later, after mashing some beans, Jocaahen suggested we take a picture so we can remember the experience and also post a yak for all of you reading this at home:) I grabbed my camera and as I walked over to Andrea I once again pre-made a sentence in my head. “Podemos sacar una foto con tú por favor?” (Can we take a picture with you please?) Her face lit up with excitement as she said, “Sí, sí, sí!” After we took the first picture she then motioned for us to have our picture taken mashing the beans.
For me this experience proved that my ability when it comes to conversational Spanish isn’t as bad as I had previously thought. In fact, when it came time to actually eat dinner I sat next to Andrea and we chatted the whole time en español.
Alexis’s take-away: As someone who is a little self conscious about my Spanish ability; I was so proud of myself for going up to Andrea and communicating with her. Andrea showed me that I don’t need to be conversational in Spanish in interact with people I meet in the community.
Ellie y Alexis