One morning while we were in Amsterdam, I woke up early to take some photos of the canals before the tour boats started up for the day. After a couple of pictures, I realized there was a thread of some sort making its way onto my images. I took a cloth from my camera bag, cleaned the front of my lens, then took a test shot, but the thread was still there. Annoyed, I removed the lens and ever so carefully cleaned the inside of the glass while attempting to shield the inside of my camera from the wind. A second test shot revealed that the pesky thread was still there.
An elderly Dutch gentleman must have been watching me become more and more perplexed, because he approached me and in stilted English softly spoke the word ‘mirror’. He was right, the little thread had somehow made its way onto the mirror inside my camera. I expressed my thanks, but he just shook his head and smiled. He understood the sentiment, but the words were foreign. Him knowing only a little English, and I knowing even less Dutch, we parted ways, but the encounter stayed with me. Who was this man? How did he know my problem was with the mirror? For all I know, I could have just met a famous Dutch photographer out for his morning stroll before the bustle of daily activity began, but because we didn’t share a common language, our exchange ended before I could even properly thank him for his help.
Upon our return home, I began researching online for language courses in our area. This being London, they weren’t difficult to find. On Monday this week, I attended my first adult education Spanish language class. Why Spanish and not Dutch? Because 100 years ago in high school and college, I took a few semesters in Spanish, so I figured it was a good place to start. At least I’d have a little experience under my belt, and I wouldn’t feel like I was starting from scratch. But after sitting through the first class…ha! To say my Spanish is rusty is an understatement. My Spanish has long since corroded into completely unusable pieces. Spanish is not like riding a bike. (But knowing me, I’ve probably forgotten how to do that properly, too.) I am re-learning this language all over again.
The course I’ve chosen is made up of three parts, each ten weeks long, so it should carry me all the way to next summer when, hopefully, I’ll get to take a trip to Spain and put what I’ve learned to good use. I don’t expect to be fluent, not in a year, but if I can at least communicate, I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. And then it will be on to the next language, and the next, and maybe, eventually, I’ll be able to communicate (at least a little) everywhere I go. That’s the dream anyway. But you want to know what I’ve learned so far?
Hola! Buenos dias! Me llamo Sarah. Y tu?
I’ve got a long way to go…