I Need to Learn Spanish

I'm not one of those people who laments the fact everyone doesn't speak English anymore. I mean, considering I was a foreign language major in college in one language and traveled abroad for a second, that wouldn't exactly make much sense, would it?

I have always resisted the need to learn Spanish though, even though living where I do it's the one language that would actually make every day life easier on various occasions. In high school I avoided it because it was common and everyone else did it - so I chose the one language my school offered that was not only uncommon but also came with it's own writing system (Japanese). Lucky me.

Then when college came and I added another one (Italian) to my repertoire, I chose to go with a language of one of my Heinz 57 lineages rather than a common one. Plus, college had about 100 to choose from - again, why choose Spanish?! If at the time I was to rank my available choices Spanish probably wouldn't have cracked my top 25.

All that is slowly changing for me though. It's becoming more and more apparent that knowing Spanish would be quite helpful. We went to Mexico two years ago for our anniversary - a wonderful place south of Acapulco called Huatulco (wah-tool-ko), in the state of Oaxaca (wah-hah-kah) - not knowing much Spanish at all. We were assured we'd be fine. And we were, relatively, but knowing the language of everyone who lives there probably would have been handy.

So what's the point of all this? Well, in Portland we have these fantastic things called foodcarts where street food gets sold all over. Apparently it's a pretty unique thing to have all of these - Seattle is just getting into it - and the ones closest to me happen to be taco carts. We wanted something different the other day so we decided to check them out for dinner.

We tried two on the corner of 185th and TV Highway. One is called Ely's and the other is called Mexico Lindo. They are in the same parking lot, so we decided we'd get three tacos at each one - of the exact same kinds - and do a taste test.

We went to Ely's first and got a chicken taco, a steak taco, and a marinated pork taco. The English here was pretty limited, but we managed to get our point across and after a short wait - and $3 - got our three tacos.

Then we walked across the lot to Mexico Lindo and I was pretty sure I ordered the same thing, but it ended up only being $2.50. And we only got two tacos. I honestly have no idea what happened, but it became 100% obvious to me that knowing enough Spanish to order my food would probably be beneficial.

I mean, Spanish isn't a difficult language to learn. Having studied Italian and French in the past the conjugations and verb patterns are similar, so for me it's really a matter of vocabulary and understanding the pronounciations. I should also note it would be better for me to learn Mexican Spanish rather than Spain's Spanish. And yes, they are different. Not so different they can't understand each other, but different enough - like American English and British English.

Funny story: I studied Italian at L'Universita di Perugia per Stranieri (the University of Perugia for Foreigners) for a summer in the town of Perugia, a little NE of Rome, and as part of the schooling met people from all over the world. I was asked, in Italian, by someone from German(before they knew I was American) what language was my native tongue. I told them English and they asked me were I was from. When I told them the United States, they answered, "Oh, you speak American, not English." I was a little surprised at that because at the time it wasn't really clear to me what the difference were, but since then I have learned they are vast and I completely understand the comment. Still, it's funny to think about.

So anyway, I should learn Spanish. At least that would ensure I get the right food I order at a Mexican food place where they don't speak much English. Hey, I have My Spanish Coach for the Nintendo DS...gotta start somewhere, right?

As for the tacos - since I know you are dying to find out - all five of them were excellent. Yep, we split each one. If I had to pick I would recommend the marinated pork taco from Ely's and the steak taco from Mexico Lindo, but for the price and the yumminess level, you can't go wrong with any of them at either place.

The corn tortillas were excellent also - and I'm not a big fan of them normally, regardless of the fact they are healthier for me or not. These fresh ones I could eat all day long. And a note - the tacos aren't that big. If you wanted to get full I'd recommend three or four for a dinner, maybe more depending on your appetite.

This was our first exposure in a long time to the foodcarts, even though there are so many in Portland. I'm thinking there are going to be a few days of foodcart crawls in our future...

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