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Dining 101: Spanish for Dinner

Learning Spanish in Cartagena is difficult.  Its Caribbean nuisances puzzle even fluent speakers. My advice: have Spanish for dinner and every other meal. Here is a reflection on how I finally learned:

Dining 101
In 1994, I went to Quito, Ecuador as an exchange student to study Spanish and Anthropology. I lived at the Fernandez family home in Barrio Miraflores, an upper middle-class neighborhood. Gladys and Johnny, heads of the household, made sure I had everything I needed. They assigned their maid, Maria, to clean my room, cook my meals, and wash my clothes, which did by hand. Gladys oversaw my menu and social life. Johnny, a tire salesman and patient Spanish professor, answered my poorly constructed questions while reading the newspaper. I ate all my meals with the family even though I thought about skipping out a few times. Maria was not the best cook. I didn’t know how politely mention that I despised soggy Corn Flakes with hot milk and uncuttable grey meat with a vein down the mi…
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