"Hello! I'm bilingual!"
The afternoon was coming to a close, quickly turning into evening, and I was in a strange town, not knowing where exactly I was and not sure exactly where I was supposed to be. All I knew was that I should be in Cuevas Baja to meet my exhausted hiker husband who had been on the trail since early that morning walking the Camino de Santiago - Mozárabe. I had cell phone contact with him, but he was not sure where he would enter the town from the trail, and I was completely unfamiliar with my surroundings. We finally agreed that I should attempt to find “town center” and he would try to meet me there.
I parked my car in front of a little corner bar, the kind that are so quaint and oh so Spanish. True to form, the local 70 and 80 year old men were congregating for their evening beer and an hour or so of solving the world’s problems. I walked across to the town plaza to see if I could spot my husband coming up the hill. No luck. I walked down to the next corner for a different view of the town’s streets. Still no sight of him. I repeated this process a couple of more times, each time passing through the plaza while five local kids played soccer in the growing shadows of the church bell tower.
An enthusiastic “Hello” in English caught my attention. “My name is Kevin”, said the local boy. He must have been about ten years old.
“Hi, Kevin. Encantada a conocerte (Pleased to meet you),” I replied
“I am bilingual”, announces Kevin. Then, he quickly reverts to Spanish. “Hablo en dos idiomas, ingles y espanol. (I speak in two languages, English and Spanish.)”
“Muy bien, Kevin!” I then decide to ask Kevin and the other children, in Spanish, if they know about the Camino and if they know where the trail comes in to town. I explain that I am looking for my husband. He is hiking. Of course, Kevin – my new best friend and font of endless information – knows about the trail, but he is not sure where it enters town. We chat a little more, in Spanish. He asks where I am from (in Spanish) and why I am in Spain. He and his friends are excited to meet an American, and doubly excited that the American lives in Spain. They continue to tell me how they learn English in school and how they are bilingual, although they haven’t been able to say anything other than hello and tell me their names in English.
Finally, I spot my precious, exhausted, sweaty hiker coming around the corner and I bid my farewell to the group.
Wildly waving their goodbyes, Kevin proudly bids me farewell with a giant smile and these words: “Where are you from good pizza!” I am smiling too big to respond to my “bilingual friend” and his attempt at an English goodbye, so I send him a wave and the blow of a kiss in his direction.
Makes me wonder how many times I have done the same thing. How many times have I been a Kevin, thinking I’m bilingual and doing my best, to the amusement of others. Doesn’t matter… Kevin stole my heart with his sweet attempts to share his language skills with me and help out a stranger in the plaza.
Until next time, “Where are you from good pizza!”
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In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a soccer mom, a horsewoman, and the neighborhood hospitality queen. I did "Joanna Gaines farmhouse style" before Chip and JoJo were even a thing - we restored an 1884 Victorian farmhouse in small town Texas and did shiplap walls until I thought I'd go crazy. I taught at NASA, scuba dived with astronauts in training, and studied animals at Sea World for educational purposes. I've tried just about everything, because I have an insatiable need to know if I can do it! Never underestimate a Texas girl in cowboy boots!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers via teaching and training and care, and helping displaced people to navigate their new reality in Europe.
I'm passionate about fostering personal growth, growth in community, and growth in The Kingdom. Walking alongside others and helping them to use their unique design, their gifts and strengths and maximize their abilities to fulfill their God-given purpose - that's what makes my heart sing!