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Spanish for Newbies – Helpful Hint No. 117

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Spanish for Newbies – Helpful Hint No. 117

The photo (above) is typical of one you would find in a public or semi-public parking lot in Merida and to the Merida newbie it might be a bit confusing.

If you have studied any Spanish at all, you might recognize the word – sort of – and think “Oh, I remember paloma, which means pigeon, so this might mean male paloma. A palomo!” Alas, you’d be wrong and besides, you’d still be wondering about the ‘lic’ part. I mean it’s not ‘lic’ as in ‘lick’ which could mean don’t lick the palomos, but no.

‘Lic’ is short for ‘Licenciado’ which is a title usually handed out once you have completed some sort of lawyerly career option. Once you have achieved Licenciado status, you can place it in front of your last name and often people will call you simply ‘Licenciado’ instead of using your name. Short version? Lic. Pronounced Lick. With that explanation under our belt, we can therefore deduce that the sign is referring to a Licenciado Palomo; Palomo being his last name.

And there’s that crossed out letter ‘E’ as well, which everyone who has traveled means no E’ing. Seriously though, you have studied some Spanish (maybe you’ve been to España!) and so you recognize the sign indicating no parking. Parking is estacionar in Spanish. So that crossed out ‘E’ means no parking.

Now you must put them together.

It might mean that there is no parking if you are the Lic. Palomo. So should he happen to show up, he most definitely can not park in that space as the sign is personally directed at him. It might also mean that ‘Ey, no licking palomos‘ in that space because that’s how you pronounce the letter ‘E’ en español –Ey. Third option – and this one’s a keeper – is that the space is reserved for a certain Licenciado Palomo, so don’t you go parking your damn car there.

Got it? Good.

Seidy Spills the Beans

Seidy stood in the living room, her eyes wide and darting from face to face, somewhat akin to the desperate flapping of a bird trapped against a glass door, having flown into the house and not able to distinguish why it can see the outside but can’t get there. She looked at Betty, then Pat and then at the mestizo couple that had barged into Pat’s centro home, all of whom were looking at her with expressions ranging from the mildly concerned and questioning (Pat, her patrona or boss and Betty, Pat’s Merida friend and ex-pat mentor) to angry and accusatory (the formidably alpha mestiza and her compliant husband, the latter unable to make eye contact with anyone and who studiously examined his feet).

Finally, unable to stand the pressure, Seidy spoke, directing her comments to the mestiza woman who was adjusting her hipil in preparation for a position on the sofa.

Quienes son?” she asked the mestiza in a soft voice.

Sabemos que tuviste que ver con nuestro hijo Marco” the mestiza replied in an indignant tone, while her husband looked at his tattered sandals “y él nos dice que se van a casar. Es cierto eso?

Pat looked at Betty questioningly. Her Spanish had not yet developed beyond the Tarzan and Jane phase and she was clearly not understanding what was being said. Betty glanced at her. “It appears that this lady’s son has asked Seidy to marry her” said Betty.

“But she is only 15 years old!” exclaimed Pat. Betty shrugged, looking back at Seidy. She wanted to hear more.

As the exchange continued between Seidy and the mestiza, it became apparent what had happened. The son, Marco, and Seidy had struck up a relationship at some point in the trajectory between Pat’s house and the bus stop where Seidy went on Saturdays to go home for her one-day weekend and apparently there had been some kind of hanky panky which had led to the declaration on the part of Marco that he was in love with Seidy and wanted to marry her. Furthermore, it soon became obvious that the hanky panky had surpassed the usual flirtations and had gone into the more serious territory of sexual relaciones. Marcos’ mother, the mestiza, had been shocked and wanted to know more about this harlot who had claimed the heart of her youngest son. She was the mother of 8 and Marco was her baby, her favorite among all her children and she was not going to let go of him lightly.

Soon, under the pressure of the questioning and accusations, Seidy, who was now staring at the floor, confessed to having had relaciones with young Marco and that a few weeks after the deed had been consummated, she had gone to the seguro alone, where, after waiting in line for several hours the indifferent nurses had performed a blood test and informed her on a subsequent visit that she was probably pregnant. When she shared this revelation with her young lover, he had optimistically insisted on marrying her and told her they would then live together at his parents home in nearby Tecoh.

Seidy did not know Tecoh; only that it was about an hour from Merida in the general direction of Mani – she had looked it up on the fold-out map of the state in the Yucatan Today magazine that Pat kept on her coffee table – and she really did not know how she was going to live with Marco’s mother who, from what he had told her, was a firebrand of a woman with very definite ideas on what needed to be done around the house and who had no qualms about making sure that those who lived in her house did what she needed to have them do.

She looked up.

The mestiza stared at her from her perch on the edge of the sofa, arms crossed in the classic body language of rejection and with an unlikely mixture of satisfaction and dismay on her face. Her husband continued to look at his sandals, obviously wishing he was far away, perhaps in a field planting corn or cantina in Tecoh with his friends, discussing local politics or something else less embarassing. The talk of relaciones and pregnancy had made him uncomfortable; this was women’s talk and he resented having been dragged to witness it all. The girl seemed pretty enough; if Marco wanted to marry her, so be it. In any case, the wedding would have to be paid for by the girls parents, so it didn’t affect him that much, he though to himself.

Pat and Betty remained seated, unsure of what would happen next or what to do if something happened or if they were expected to do something. Finally Betty spoke up.

“Creo que esta bien por ahora. Vamos a regresar a nuestras casas por el momento, mientras pensamos que vamos a hacer” she said, and got up to open the front door.

The mestiza said nothing. She got up and, flipping her scarf-like reboso over her shoulder with a violent gesture, gave a last glare at Seidy who looked away guiltily and, mumbling something that sounded like gracias to the two gringas, left the house. Her husband followed, making eye contact for the first and only time in the whole visit – with Betty – to whom he nodded and walked through the open door and onto the sidewalk, into the sweltering Merida afternoon to follow his wife, who had already made it half way down the block and seemed not at all concerned that her husband had not caught up with her. She had more important things on her mind.

Seidy, as soon as everyone had left the room, turned abruptly and headed for her room. From where she stood in the living room, Pat thought she heard sobbing.

Casual Hotel Critic in Houston – Indigo at the Galleria

In the ongoing interest of commenting on all things Yucatan, it is useful to include information on the those points of entry into the Yucatan, of which Houston is an important one as the United (formerly Continental) flight into and out of Merida is the only American airline covering that route.

And for Yucatecans, Houston is an important and attractive destination for all sorts of reasons; medical, financial and of course touristic.

The Casual Hotel Critic doesn’t appear often on this blog, but he is back and this time he comments on a recent stay at the Indigo Hotel at the Galleria.

This is a funky hotel with friendly staff, especially the Mexican ladies working the breakfast shift in the café/restaurant/bar just off the lobby. Funky because the colors and feel of the hotel will almost convince you that you are in Miami Beach and not Texas. The rooms are all handicapped accessible, if that is a term that can still be used and remain politically correct (not that the Critic is particularly concerned about such matters) which makes for an interesting closet situation, where the bar that you hang your shirts on is at waist level and the longer items of clothing will reach the bottom of the closet furniture mueble.

An important point to note for those with noise vs sleep issues: the air conditioning is loud. Very loud. It is a constant loud so it wouldn’t be bad – at least for the Hotel Critic – as it masks out outside and hallway noises, but unfortunately the a/c clunks off when the room hits the temperature set on thermostat and the switch from buzzing hum to silence will wake you. Every. Single. Time. The only way to ensure that the air conditioner does not go off is to set the temperature at the beef-aging meat locker setting and tuck yourself in very well.

The location though can’t be beat and is just behind the Galleria mall, at the Nordstroms entrance, so it is perfect for those who come to Houston to shop. The parking is free, another nice touch and right outside the hotel, something that definitely does not happen for example at the Westin Galleria where gigantic corner room 1906 is a personal favorite of the Hotel Critic.

Plenty of restaurants nearby both on Westheimer and up on Richmond, ranging from Starbucks to Pappas luxe steakhouse to Mexican and a gazillion Asian places that range from Vietnamese to Japanese to Thai.

Good place to stay? Yes. But the sleep vs noise issue is one that needs to be considered.

 

 

Dispatches from the Gym

It has been a while since I last commented on my progress at the gym, the one with all the fancy cars outside and the impossibly fit personal trainer.

I have progressed beyond the exhaustion/vomiting in the parking lot point and have come to enjoy my workouts, actually missing them if I go for more than a day without sweating it out. My physique is slowly but surely changing; there are bulges now where there was only flab or nothing at all and my joints ache, but in a good way, a way that says ‘you are alive, you are getting stronger’ and also ‘don’t push it, you old fart’.

My favorite moments, though, are still those involving the locker room. There is something I find hilarious about all that loud, boisterous male on male banter and the imaginative and creative uses of the hair dryers provided by the gym presumable for us menfolk to dry their hair.

Just yesterday I watched in amazement as a towel clad individual, freshly returned from the showers, blow dried a basket of toiletries.

Two thoughts immediately came to mind: 1) what kind of man is it that has a plastic tray with his shower toiletries? and 2) what kind of man finds it necessary to blow dry this item before returning it to a locker? Presumably his locker is full of moisture-sensitive materials that would desintegrate upon making contact with said moisture?

I don’t know.

Enlighten me?