Friday, April 27, 2007

The privilege of living here

Tonite los gringos (the Patient and I plus Marie and Jack) were treated to dinner at Dago's puesto cooked by Fernando and Chouy. They do this every year as we are packing up to go back to our other lives. Not Jack, of course, who lives hear year around. We sat down on the shore and ate shrimp and filete de pargo, guacomale, shrimp marinated in hot sauce and lime, cucumber in lime juice and hot seasoned salt, drank beer and wine, and generally enjoyed la vida loca. I made lime sorbet for desert, using a recipe I got off the internet. We get a look into the lives of the people who live here, what they talk about, what they think about local, regional and national politics. It is a gift for which I am extremely grateful. There are (gringo) folk who live here who think one should not become friends with the locals and with the people who "work" for you. But how else are you going to understand what's going on? They have no idea what they are missing.

One of the most interesting discussions we had was that about language. Since English is (relatively speaking) gender-neutral, learning to classify nouns as either masculine or feminine poses a challenge to us second or third language acquisitionists. Both Fernando and Chouy recognize and understand our struggles and for this alone they deserve the Victoria Cross.

Another issue is the "tu" v. "usted" decision. As I explained, we don't have this class distinction in English; everyone belongs to the same class. (Actually, there are those who would argue about this, but that's not my point here.) Fernando addresses Jim and me in the "tu" form of the verb, but only after establishing the "usted" form by using our proper names. There is obviously a subtlety is this too delicate for my understanding. I have a good grasp of this concept in French; you use the "vous" form for EVERYONE with whom you speak except your immediate family or your nearest and dearest. It makes everything much easier.

I have come away from our evening on the beach with a warm glow that I hope will last until we return next December. These people have taught me so much about family, friendship, and the Mexican way of life. They have shown us such care and concern; Chouy made separate foods and dishes just so the Patient could eat them, with no peppers or hot seasoning. And I don't think it's because we are all gringos; I think it is because we have all become friends.


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