Monday, July 2, 2012

Não falo Português.

Today I had my first Portuguese lesson, in hopes that I will soon be able to do something besides look uncomfortable whenever people say things to me. My instructor’s name is Viegas, and he has a very amiable attitude, but those lessons are intense. It is one-on-one instruction for two hours, and although studying Spanish has made it remarkably easy to understand Portuguese, I think that if anything, it has made the pronunciation harder. Oh, the temptation to use Spanish pronunciation in such similar words! But, I did learn some valuable introduction skills, as well as the priceless phrase: “I don’t understand” (“Não compreendo.”)
          On Saturday, Dad and I went for a horseback ride at a stable near the fish market. The market is a very interesting scene, because there are a lot of colorful fishing boats and a lot of people playing in the water or coming to buy or sell.

          We had been to the stables and were told to come back later—they were only having lessons in the morning, and we could come back at three for a trail ride. At this point, we assured them that we knew how to ride—this statement was shown to be debatable, however, when we arrived at the stables and not only remembered that it had been around two years since either of us had ridden, but also noticed that they used English-style saddles. For those of you who don’t know the difference between English and Western saddles, Western saddles sit around the middle of the horse’s back, and they have a horn in front. English saddles sit farther up on the horse, near its shoulders, and some of the riding techniques are different. Needless to say, I was rather embarrassed when, after having assured them that I knew what I was doing, I looked like Hyacinth Bucket in the BBC comedy series “Keeping up Appearances” episode entitled “Mind Your Head.” For those of you who don’t get the reference, it wasn’t pretty. The ride was enjoyable, though, after receiving a few pointers from our guides; and after being assured that I would benefit greatly from lessons, we called it a day.
<Look how smug he looks.

If there’s one concept I’ve grasped in these first few days of being back in Maputo, it is the “tip of the iceberg” phenomenon. Last year, I did a lot of things in a lot of places, but there's still so much to learn even about Maputo and her neighbors. It’s an overwhelmingly big world, so my goal is to suck up as much of it as possible!

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