Through the years Marco has been very good with teaching me some new vocabulary every once and a while, however I haven’t even come close to mastering the Spanish language. Being from Venezuela, Marco is fluent in Spanish and as such actually helped us out a lot on our trip!
Speaking With Others
As the tourist town that Playa Del Carmen is it is hard to believe that most people, especially those running stores or businesses, do not speak English. It is a reality and many people, other tourists, bus or taxi drivers do not speak English fluently. Having Marco was a blessing as we were able to receive directions, tips and even just great conversation from people whom we may have not been able to if neither of us spoke Spanish. We were at a counter at a convenience store where we wanted to purchase this bottle of rum to bring back home to Marco’s dad, we had asked the lady at the counter for the price of the bottle and she went to the back to check. Meanwhile, another customer (presumably local) told Marco in Spanish that he can purchase the same bottle at another store for much cheaper. We saved a lot of money and were thankful that he was so nice to offer the tip to us.
While I do not condone eavesdropping, it was incredibly convenient that Marco was able to understand what people were saying in Spanish under their breath or when not speaking directly to us. Correction – it was good and bad – good because he was able to overhear if anyone had ill-intentions or if there was a change in route and why, etc. but bad because when we would nicely reject sales offers on the streets the sales men would mutter something offensive (I couldn’t understand) and this can be upsetting. After a while he learned to ignore it and we didn’t let it ruin our holidays.
Although many places offered English and Bilingual menus, not all restaurants did. It was great that he could tell me exactly what the dish was and what it came with so I didn’t need to guess and potentially order something I didn’t like. Not only this, but we ordered a lot of the more traditional Latin American menu items that I may not have tried on my own, such as Plantanos Fritos which is fried plantains or Ceviche which is essentially seafood which is cooked in lemon juice! I was glad that I could try all of these dishes that I hadn’t before and may be difficult to come across back in Canada.
Teaching The Language
I couldn’t let Marco have all the fun! I often would ask him “How do you ask this?” or “How do you say that in Spanish?”. I would order some of our meals in Spanish (which i rehearsed and memorized the phrases rigorously prior to uttering them) and would even greet some people as well. At some point, of course, he would need to step in and take over but I was very impressed that my Spanish was improving.
During our excursions he was able to form relationships with and every tour guide we had (almost like a teachers pet). The guides would speak to him in Spanish and divulge on information not included in the typical tour. We learned tips on for certain excursions, fun facts about the places we visited and learned a little about their history and personal lives as well.