When we first moved to Latin America, back in 2001, our Spanish language skills were minimal. We had what we call 'restaurant and taxi' Spanish, allowing us to get where we were going (usually a restaurant) and order our food once we got there.
So, you're thinking of retiring to Latin America, are you? Then you'd best learn some Spanish. At least a little, por favor. Pantomime works, yes, but only so far -- and at what damage to your self-respect?)
Twenty years after my first class at Casa Hispana, I began my translation of Pablo Neruda's "100 Sonnets of Love," a collection of sonnets written to Neruda's wife Matilde. Each one of these poems is a flash of light, a lightning strike of love.
When you're standing in the store with a line of people behind you and the cashier mumbles something like quatromilledoscientoscinquenta and it sounds like quatromillcan'tyouevencountyoustupidstupidgringo, it's a bit nerve-wracking.
You may not realize it, but the U.S. is becoming a bilingual nation. Today, more than 37 million people speak Spanish at home. Pause and think about that number: For 37 million people in the U.S., speaking Spanish is more comfortable than speaking English.