El barco se está hundiendo y el capitán se dirige a los pasajeros:
¡El barco se hunde! ¿Hay alguien que sepa rezar con devoción?
Un pasajero dice: Sí señor, yo.
El capitán responde: Estupendo, porque nos falta un chaleco salvavidas.
This is a joke, in Spanish–a joke that I don’t understand in any way. I read recently that reading jokes in a language one is studying is great practice and can be both “valuable and fun!” After a solid two and a half hours of Rosetta Stone, I still don’t get it. Troubling.
Tomorrow I am flying to Buenos Aires for two months to study Spanish, and while I’m there I plan on writing as much as possible, eating steaks, drinking Malbec, and compulsively watching people Tango in the street. I’ve booked my language classes. I’ve rented a little studio apartment in what seems like a cute neighborhood. I have a Spanish/English dictionary. I also have a gigantic backpack, and yet I’m still slightly terrified.
Although I am a fan of being alone, I worry that “alone in a foreign country” is different from “alone at Chipotle” or “alone at the American History Museum.” I am scared in a big way of taking off to South America by myself and have, for the last week, been having visions of myself in tears in a cafe this Saturday morning just after landing, begging for coffee and yet inadvertently begging for a cat or a ball (two nouns the Rosetta people were really pushing in that first installment). So, I mastered the phrase for “one coffee with milk, please!” over the past week, but that’s pretty much it. I have exactly 48 hours from the time I land Saturday morning until I have to show up for class (14 intricately mapped blocks away) on Monday at 9 am. After four ciders this evening with four of my favorite people, I have convinced myself not only that I will be able to adequately order (and pay for!) coffee, but also that this trip is going to be both a growing experience and one of the first chances in my life to be genuinely calm. This keeps coming up in relation:
“Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Because I believe wholeheartedly in sleeping as little as possible the night before an international flight, here I am setting up this blog, all in an effort to pass out on the Miami-Buenos Aires leg of the trip tomorrow. In the past I’ve travelled overseas with people who are smart enough to take sleep-inducing pills just before boarding, but because I am scared of most medicines, I am going to have to rely on exhaustion and in-flight wine to carry me through. I’ll keep you posted.
Over and out,