Baños, a list of lists

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Things I Have Seen While Looking Out My Window:

– About 50 or so police officers, dressed in camouflage, shouting chants as they run down my street. The sound of their combat boots sounds like a herd of wild bison, roaming o´er the plains. It´s a pretty cool display, but I wish they´d wait until after I´ve woken up to do it.

– A man walking three goats on leashes in the misty morning. And a crowd of people, gathered around him, filling their bottles wih goat´s milk straight from the tap.

– Kids from the Biblioteca, who find me leaning on the sill, people-watching, and shout: ¨SAM! SAM!¨ with frantic waves and enormous grins.

– The sun coming up between two green mountains.

Topics Covered in Tutoring Sessions With Daniel, a 23-year-old Baneño:

– Mullets. In Spanish, he says, they´re called ¨partida de nalga¨ which means ¨part of the ass.¨ A good five minutes were devoted to discussing and drawing on the board various types of mullets.

– Punk vs. Salsa: for some reason, before our lesson began on Wednesday, Daniel went to the board and wrote that. Inquiring minds want to know, I guess. I voted punk. He was not pleased.

– Various bad words that I can´t repeat here, in case children are reading.

– How to dance salsa. When I told him I can´t dance salsa, he whipped out his phone and a tinny song began to play. He proceeded to demonstrate the ¨easy steps¨ of salsa which to me happened so fast that all I saw was a mocking blur.

My Favorite New Words in Spanish:

Chevere. Ecuadorian slang for ´cool.´

Vacan. More Ecuadorian slang for ´cool.´ The effect is amplified, usually to comedic effect, when you say vacansisimo.

Muy rico. Rich, usually applied to food. ¨Mmmm! This chocolate is muy rico!¨ I learned the hard way that you have to be careful with it, though. If you stretch out the muy- ¡mmmmmuuuuuyyyyyy rico! it´s kind of like a sexual innuendo, and people start to whisper about you.

Mitimiti. It´s like half & half.

La espera me mata. The wait will kill me!

Mande. People use that here for ¨What?¨ but it literally is a command that means ¨send¨- like ¨Send it again?¨ I always imagine the sound of a fax machine when I hear people use it.

Claro. It´s not new to me, but it´s still my favorite phrase in Spanish. It means ¨clearly¨ and you can use it many different ways. It could be sarcastic/rude: ¨Do you want me to sweep the floor?¨ ¨¡Claro!¨ or sweet: ¨Do you think I´m pretty?¨ ¨¡Claro!¨ or just simply to settled a matter: ¨Does this cost two dollars?¨ ¨Claro.¨ You can also make a lot of jokes just by shouting it out. I just absolutely love it.

Things That Suprised Me About the Children in Baños:

– They´re respectful. They always called me ¨Usted,¨ the polite form of ¨you¨ and at the end of a lesson, they actually thank you for teaching them.

– They´re independent. I saw a kid who couldn´t have been older than three walking back from a corner store, alone, with a little kid-size yogurt at a time of night when most American toddlers have been in bed for hours. And on that same note…

– You can throw ¨child safety¨ out the window. You can throw it out a broken window, three stories above a busy street, like the one I saw two little kids leaning out of to take in the cold night air. And they weren´t wearing hats. You can also let ¨child safety¨ stand up in the back of a pickup truck and send it careening over bumpy mountain roads that I´m not certain even have posted speed limits. You can take ¨child safety¨ and let it play in the street, because kids here, they are smart. They know when a car is coming and they know to get out of the way.

– They´re affectionate. In the United States, while working with children, so much as a pat on a kid´s back could put you in jail. Here, it´s not uncommon for a ten-year-old child to lock his or her arms around your waist and stay there, Siamese-twin style, for five minutes. They´ll play with your hair, they always kiss you on the cheek to say goodbye, and they like to hold hands just about any old time. This tradition of warmth and affection continues into adulthood: it´s not uncommon to see what would be, in the U.S., a sulky teenager prone to screaming ¨I hate you, Mom!¨ walking arm in arm with his or her parents, heads nestled together. Grown men and women walk down the street arm in arm with their friends. That´s another thing I see a lot of, looking out my window: two grown men, walking arm in arm down the sidewalk, smiling. And it´s beautiful.


Written by Sam Kelly

July 2, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. SAMMY KAY, YOU are a astonshing young lady!!!!We are truley so proud of you and your accomplishments. Hope to see you when you return. You are alway’s in our thoughts,Harry say’s on the most important date of the year, 11/8… lol xoxo Gale & Harry. LOVE reading your blogs…

    Gale Kappes

    July 17, 2010 at 12:26 pm

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