My Fascination with Mexico and the Spanish language
My Fascination with Mexico and the Spanish language began when I was just 5 years old. Our Neighbors were a Mexican family and their son and I were friends. His mother’s snacks were always delicious and both his father and mother were loving caring people.
When we moved to a farm, where I spent most of my juvenile life, I worked with many migrant workers. I was always fascinated with how hard they worked, and how close knit their families were. When I was growing up, almost all children worked in the summer. I started picking beans and berries when I was 7 years old. The money was used to pay for my school clothes and school supplies. Although we were poor, it was nothing uncommon. It was a farm community and farmers work. That is part of their lives. My Grandfather used to tell me; Dave your stepfather might not have been good, but you kids know how to work. It was not uncommon for me to work a hard 12 hour day at the age of 10. The farm bus would pick us up (age 7-12) at 6:30 am. We would return home at 4:00 pm. And on top of that there were the daily chores: taking care of the animals, milking the cow, etc. Being a hard worker is something I am proud of to this day. Later at age 13 to 17, I worked on the same farm and was in charge of the irrigation for the entire farm with about 15 people under me.
It was during this time that I had a lot of contact with Mexican migrant workers. It was always a challenge to keep up with them. They were always friendly, and you could see that their families were very tightly knit. Life was a lot tougher in those days, but the way the parents treated their children was special. It was a very loving atmosphere. During this time I developed contact to several families, and always wished I could speak their language.
In addition, in 1964 my uncle and aunt gave me the book “Kon-Tiki” for Christmas. It tells the story of Thor Heyerdahl’s expedition from Peru to the Easter Islands on a balsa raft. Since reading the book, the cultures and history of the Americas has fascinated me. His theories still fascinate me, and he opened my eyes to the “Americas” that existed prior to the European invasion. What most people do not realize is that Central and South American cultures (Aztec, Inca, etc.) were far more advanced the Europeans in almost everything other than weaponry, at the time the conquistadors arrived. The list of atrocities that have occurred by the Europeans and US “Americans” is endless. It is also unfathomably brutal. We can only begin to fathom the wisdom destroyed by the conquistadors and their offspring’s. But that is another story all together.
How it all started
I was sent to Germany in the Army in 1972, during the Vietnam War. I must have inherited the travel bug from my grandparents, because it was an adventure from day 1. Within 6 months I was living in an Apartment, far from the base, and learning German through my newly found German friends. I am now in 2015 still there. In 1996 I started learning French for my work. I realized at the time that I would much rather be learning Spanish. In 2005 my youngest daughter was about to start college studying for an economics-language degree, which required a third language. Although she got A’s in the German Gymnasium (High School), her French was horrible, so she was looking for a different 3rd language. She approached me with the thought of leaning Portuguese. I asked her what she wanted to use Portuguese for, and why not learn Spanish. Next to English, Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world. She said that she had thought about it, and I suggested that we start learning together at a night school to see if she liked it.
After 2 semesters of basic Spanish, I sent her to Costa Rica to an intensive course to get her up to par for College. She came back speaking Spanish so well, that I got extremely jealous. I immediately booked a trip to a Spanish School in Guatemala, to catch up. That is when my passion re-bloomed and I started traveling to the “Americas” always including courses to improve my Spanish. Today I speak fluent Spanish. I am now married to a Peruvian, and we speak mainly Spanish at home. (Except with my 3 year old son, with whom I speak English). It is amazing to watch him learn, and how he switches from English to Spanish, to German without thinking about it.
How I like to travel
During my first trip to Guatemala, I lived with a family and was introduced to the backpacking culture. Most of the students were young and short on cash. I immediately fell in love with their way of travel (chicken buses, hostels, etc.) You meet very interesting people in a low budget back packers hostel. And you receive a lot of excellent information about how and where to travel. Now with my son and wife it has become a little difficult, but I hope to continue like this. I have had so many fascinating experiences, and have met so many wonderful people (many of which I still have contact with), that I cannot imagine taking a commercial tour anywhere.
Traveling for me is more than just seeing the sites. More important to me is divulging in the culture. Getting to know and understand the lives of the people in the areas I visit. I love to converse with the people of the communities I visit and gain an insight into their lives.
Mexico 2008 to follow……