Recipe: shredded beef tacos
That phrase is the first sentence I learned in Spanish way back in high school, from a bunch of friends who took Spanish. I took French, see. So when I headed down to South America to do field work for graduate school I was all, “Guys, I don’t speak a lick of Spanish.” Well, except for por que tu eres un taco grande? Everyone assured me I’d pick it up.
I did pick up some Spanish, all with an Argentine accent. That got me a lot of funny stares when I flew across the Andes to Chile for work on a field project with Jeremy and a team of astronomers. When Jeremy met me at the airport in Santiago and we caught a cab, he was amazed while I chattered away with our driver in my Argentine Spanish explaining the geophysical research project I had been working on for the past month. Jeremy speaks Spanish. When he saw me off at the airport in the US, the only new Spanish I had learned was No me molestes! and Chupacabra (from an X-files episode).
When I say Jeremy speaks Spanish, I really mean that he knows a lot of Spanish, but the guy hardly speaks much in English and even less in Spanish. He actually *thinks* before he speaks. That’s why when he finally says something, everyone listens. It’s usually something quite good. But me, I run my mouth all the time and let my jabbering find its way around until I say what I wanted to say. I don’t hesitate to speak. Same goes for my Spanish.