Saturday, February 03, 2007


My Spanish 1 teacher was from Chile. She would not hesitate to announce, "For homework, please do exercise C,D,E, F, G, H and I. You know what? Also do J,K, L, M,N O and P." You never knew whether the mood might strike her to add Q to Z, so it was important to try to ask an unrelated question at that point. It was summer, and she gave a test every other day.

She was a holy terror. But I never learned so much Spanish from anyone, anywhere.

For example, she taught us the word guagua means "baby" in Chile. But it means "bus" in Puerto Rico. Also, in Spanish, you don't miss the bus. You lose it.

When she first came to the US, having fled from the junta, she met a worried-looking Puerto Rican woman at a bus stop. She asked her what was wrong.

"I lost the guagua," the woman said.

"Oh no!" replied my teacher. "What on earth are you going to do?"

"Don't worry," she replied. "I'll just get another one."
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