Thursday, August 14, 2008

La Paqueteria

Yesterday we learned a form of the verb hacer. The form is hay. Hay (roughly pronounced “I”) is great because you don’t have to conjugate it and you can use it with almost anything. From what I can gather it basically means “there is” or “there are” – either one, no conjugation! It’s like a gift from the language gods… (los dioses de linguas?)

Anyway our tarea (homework) was to make up a bunch of sentences with hay in them. So I pulled out the Wall-E notebook that Chris bought me and I began to write out sentences at my level, sentences that my 8th grade English teacher Mrs. Smith would have flagged immediately in her sing-songy voice as “first-grade sentences.”

En mi casa hay una ventilador. (In my house there is a ceiling fan.)
En mi casa hay uno plato de frutas. (In my house there is a plate of fruit.)

And so on. That was fun, but after finishing my tarea I went out exploring, to the Palacio de Cortes to check out the legendary murals Chris had told me about. The only problem was that I was afraid someone might say something to me about my backpack. You know how sometimes you have to check your bag, i.e. leave it with someone at a designated place when you enter a store or museum or something? Well, here in Mexico you have to do that all the time, in almost any decently sized tienda (store) or museo (museum). I’ve been tapped on the shoulder more than once by a security guard and been pointed to the paqueteria (place where you drop off your bags, or paquets?).

It’s not really a big deal, of course, but I wanted to avoid the dreaded shoulder-tap. So, armed with my new trusty hay, I decided to take the initiative: I marched into the museum, said a friendly buenas tardes to the clerk selling tickets, asked for my boleto (ticket), and then said, in a tone that made it sound like a question, Hay una paqueteria?

Si! said a voice a few feet away, and lo and behold, there was the paqueteria with a person smiling and waiting for me, clearly pleased I had asked about the paqueteria so she didn’t have to play the heavy. Success!

Okay, so clearly I’m not fluent yet. But when you’re a first-grader, you gotta soak up those small victories. Viva la victoria!

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