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Holding on to the language that I love:

It’s been two weeks since I boarded a plane to come home…or was it left home?

Two weeks ago I was immersed in a culture, language, life and people that made me feel so welcome, as though I was a part of it, leaving it all behind was one of the most difficult things I have had to done. From the moment I landed in Houston, all Spanish ended. It was a cold hard reality. The people on the plane were not bilingual, instructions were announced only in English, the buzz from in the terminal was all English, the signs, the music, the people ENGLISH.

Yes, for all you naysayers I know we ‘speak’ English here. –Which is up for debate since the United States as never declared a national language –but that’s an argument for another day.

My head spun from the chaotic sounds of my native language crashing around me.

I much prefer walking through to smelling, dirty, crowded markets of Masaya and hearing the buzzing sounds of rolling “R’s” and “Lalalas” over the “Ayuhs” and “Ya’lls”…Call me anti-American I don’t care. I just find the Spanish language soothing to listen to.

I miss the sounds of my teacher’s voices correcting my pronunciations, the men talking as they worked at La Mariposa, I miss the ladies bantering with them every morning. I miss the accents of my friends English through their Spanish born mouths. I miss the music playing its Latin beats and Spanish songs on the radio. I miss playing with the dogs and talking to them in Spanish…I miss the chatter of the children at the schools, in their little people voices using their baby talk Spanish. I miss hearing the guy riding up and down the street calling over the loud speaker that he was collecting metal…or the sounds of someone announcing news worthy information over the loud speaker or what might be on sale at Pali.

That to me is comfortable.

I miss struggling to figure out what I am ordering in a restaurant and gambling it will be good because the menu is misspelled and cannot find the word for it in my Spanish dictionary. I miss Tonas and gallo pintos and people who know what that is.

Since my return, I have really had to fight to keep the Spanish I learned and force myself to speak it even though no one here in my state, city, house, or job does. It is super difficult. I find it fading from my mind and it makes me so sad.

I am fortunate to have some beautiful faithful friends in Nicaragua that call and check on me every Saturday night. It warms my heart to hear that thick Spanish accent breaking through the phone line in my ear, 'allllooo maaa aye speakaah Yuli.' I smile instantly and burst out in Spanish as fast as I can without tripping over my tongue; 'Sí, sí, es mí soy Juli. ¿¿Cómo estás?? Estoy tan feliz de escuchar tu voz!!' And the call goes from there. We talk for an hour or more and for those few minutes all the world is right.

When we hang up, I am exhausted but in a happy satisfied way. I will fall asleep and dream in Spanish. It’s funny how that happens.

Then in the morning I wake up and it’s back to English again.

Yesterday, I was refilling my athsma prescription and met up with my friends family, they are bilingual, when I saw his daughter I excitedly greeted her in Spanish. A very bright brown eyed, soft spoken little girl looked up at me and chatted back. I was so happy to talk to her in Spanish even for a minute and she was more than happy to talk back. It's like she knew...

This trip I learned so much and have been able to bring back a lot to share with my friends and co-workers but still Spanish is fading sadly.

I am studying it online to keep my ears tuned in. Fact is I spend most of my Saturdays at home with my headset on listening to anything in Spanish. I love Rosetta Stone, I get to hear common words and frequently used phrases, see how they are spelled, used in a sentence and can speak it back in addition to typing the words out. I love Spanish soaps for the high drama.

On Wednesdays I read and write in Spanish to keep my spelling and sentence structure practice but it is just not the same. I find myself sneaking to google to get tips way too much.

Práctica, práctica, práctica…I keep on and have begun the plans for a return trip. A return trip that just may keep me there more permanently…

As Told By Jules: Journeys in Central America and beyond

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