When she wants my attention, she calls me Anna. When she already has it, she calls me loca.
Venga, loca. I walk in and she has something to show me. A mariposa nocturna.
My host family’s daughter is seven years old, but I call her la líder because she calls the shots and I am more than eager to follow. She is by far the best Spanish teacher I’ve had, but to a fault; if she catches an error in my sentences, I am not permitted to speak further until I’ve reciprocated the correct word and pronunciation.
I discovered this through my awful habit of pronouncing numbers in Portuguese. When I told her in Portunhal that I was “vinte e três años”, she slapped her hand on her forehead in total exasperation.
“No, loca. Veinte. Veiii-nteeee”.
Although her determination in improving my Spanish during my homestay is commendable, her legacy is spotted with mentiras. I have to be careful.
The first day we walked to one of her vecinas and she told me with a straight face that her school was poor.
“Mi escuela tiene 80 estudiantes, pero tiene tres computadoras sólo . No tenemos ningunas plumas, y tenemos escribir con nuestras uñas y sangre”.
I looked at her in confusion, en serio? I asked her. Can seven year olds make this stuff up? I shake it off though, I’m too concerned to entertain this.
Returning to her house, I prompt her to get on my back, and we play a game where I point at random things and ask, “Es su casa?”
“Esta roca…es su casa?”
She plays along and decides when something is or isn’t her “house”.
“Esta planta…es su casa?”
“Cuántas casas tiene?”
I still can’t shake off the story from before, however. I finally asked her mother a couple hours later about it. She rolls her eyes.
“She tells this story to all of the students. Mentirosa,” she scolds her daughter.
My first encounter with my homestay family was short; after dinner, I went to my room and I stayed up to work on a presentation. I wondered to myself how I could have a homestay so short. Can I or the family gain anything from a five-day interaction, where I am only present for the very beginnings of the day and the very end?
The next morning, I wake up to see her on her bike. She is about to go to her abuela’s house, but she bids me a greeting before doing so.
“Buenos días, loca”.
Blog post by Anna Adair, UGA Romance Languages and Latin American and Caribbean Studies student