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Posted by on Mar 9, 2014 in Costa Rica, Culture, Spanish, Uncategorized | 4 comments

Spanish Sundays – Número Seis

Spanish Sundays – Número Seis

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I’m Back! Miss me? Well I have been out and about and having a good time being retired and while I have been learning Spanish, in my own unique way, I have neglected my friends Paco y Lola.

In fact I have only read a couple of additional pages since we last spoke. I am actually taking a step back and shelving Paco for a bit. It seems  that I bit off more than I could chew with the adventures of the boy and girl.

To help me along with my new take on Spanish our friends let us use their, more age appropriate (language age that is), book – “My first 1,000 Words in Spanish”. Along with the words are cute accompanying cartoon pictures.

It may take me the better part of a pentad but I will get it done.


Walkie Talkie

Actual studying aside, the most constant reinforcer of my Spanish lessons is my daily hike. Many times just saying hi to a Tico results in me learning something. That is how I learned the word Caminar – to walk – as multiple people say it to me as I walk by.

The other day I was hiking back up our road, el Cajon, from my hike and a car stops and the driver asks “Iglesia de El Cajon?” I am sure there was more to the question but that was all I heard. In fact, I didn’t even HEAR that. Let me explain.

A couple of weeks before, when walking, a lady was walking and asked what the name of the road was and I told her El Cajon. So when the man in the car pulled up I knew I was going to be put on the spot and so I put my mind in Spanish gear and when he asked the question I immediately remembered the person asking what the name of our street was. So, naturally I answered:

Si, El Cajon. Aqui.

The man, patient man, asked again slowly and this time I heard iglesia – church – and knew where to direct him, not HOW to direct him, mind you. So after some pantomime and stammering and stuttering in Spanish I was able to communicate where he needed to go.

There is a big difference in knowing a word and having that word on tap – to be able to use it when speaking. So this conversation, if one could call it that, had me running home and relearning the ups and downs of Spanish…directions. Here are the basics:

todo recto – Straight On

la derecha – The Right (the opposite of left as opposed to You are Right)

la izquierda – The Left

arriba – Up(wards)

abajo – Down(wards)

So, some new words for me to practice. It really is kind of cool when you attempt, even with very limited Spanish, to communicate with a native speaker in their language, that they show patience and gratitude that you are trying. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I always had the same patience in the States with people who were learning English. I like to keep that in mind, now that the hiking boot is on the other foot.





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Greg Seymour is a quitter. At 41 Greg and his wife Jen quit their jobs, sold damn near everything they owned and became Intentionally Unemployed and retired early to Costa Rica.
In addition to writing on this blog, Greg has written for other online publications and has written two popular books about living in Costa Rica:
Greg Seymour Amazon Author Page

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Latest posts by Gregorio (see all)

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  1. hey there gregorio…
    I have tried learning Spanish many times over the years. I must say that the very best book on the subject is lady madrigal’s magical key to Spanish. It is a very different approach written by a costa rican lady in the fifties, I think. and it is illustrated by Andy Warhol long before he got famous. check it out.

    • Awesome…thanks for the tip Heather. I will track that bad boy down.

  2. Reading your blog feels a little odd to me because I feel like I’m eavesdropping on your life. I have slowly been going through all of your posts.

    Anyway, this one struck me from two angles. I am trying to learn Spanish now. I have an app I use called Duolingo. The strange thing is that I can read it easier than when I hear it. I have this picture in my head of Ticos speaking very slow and loud to me when I am there. The other thing that hit home is what you said at the end about not being so patient with people in the past that were trying to learn English.

    I work in downtown Houston and there is a restaurant in the tunnels (yes, there are tunnels below the city) that serves up salad in something similar to a buffet line. Almost everyone that works there is Hispanic and some don’t speak English well but I’m patient with them because I am sure they aren’t making much and at least they are trying, right? Well, one day I was in there and there was a guy in front of me that berated the girl and said “Speak English!” My blood began to boil and it took everything I had in me not to say something. Even typing this it still angers me.

    It sounds like moving to Costa Rica has brought a whole new perspective to your life and that is a good thing. I think everyone could use some patience and undestanding here in the U.S. There are a lot of people that take things for granted.

    Anyway, as usual, good stuff. I have thoroughly enjoyed eavesdropping on your life, even if it does feel a little odd at times. Keep up the good work!

    • Hey Ron, thanks so much… I am putting it out there for others to learn along with me – so no eavesdropping happening. I worked in Houston for two years and am very familiar with the tunnels – Dallas has quite the underground system as well.

      I can tell you this – if you move to Costa Rica you will really appreciate what someone learning a second language is going through – sounds like you have a bit of empathy already – but just wait until it is YOU who can’t communicate in the home country language. It is very humbling. And for the most part, at least where I live, effort is the key. If you try, you will be accepted and the Tico’s will try to help.

      Best of luck to you. Keep stalking!


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