The Awkwardness of Learning a New Language

And the silly flubs I go through every day

First of all I have to admit I’m rather ashamed of myself. I’ve been down in Guatemala for over 3 years now and still can’t speak Spanish fluently. Shame on me. I should be so much further ahead then I am now.

Ah well, bit by bit or “poco a poco” as they say down here.

So as I go along and learn, so many words sound kinda the same. Many words are way off when you translate them. This is where the trouble begins. I stutter and stammer a lot of the time and when I simply can’t figure out what I’m trying to tell them, Google translate is my best friend.

On the rare occasion, my data on my phone runs out and I desperately try to convey my message as best I can.

When that happens, this happens:

My first year here I needed to find a plug for my kitchen sink. Not only to wash dishes, but to keep the scorpions at bay (good times indeed). I had no Google translate when I went to the hardware store so I had to draw a picture of my sink and what I was looking for, a plug.

Now those who know me, know that I can’t even draw stick men. My picture turned out looking like a face with an elephant trunk. Oy 🤦‍♀️Epic fail. We both laughed hysterically and once I finally managed to tell him what I needed, turns out they didn’t have any anyway.

But he’ll always remember me as the elephant lady.

And now actual conversation flubs

I can usually get by pretty good these days but every now and then I still mess up. My first year here was definitely the worst. Like most expats who can’t speak the language, I pointed and grunted an awful lot.

When I did try to use words, this is what happened.

First up? Eggs and Thursday.

Eggs is huevos ( silent h). Thursday is jueves (j sounds like an h).

For the longest time I had a helluva time differentiating them. I can’t tell you how many times I went to a store and asked for half a carton of Thursdays.

Next up? Shit and Scared

Oy. This one still messes me up.

Shit is mierda. Scared is miedo. Seriously??

Do they have to be that close to each other? Guess how many times I told someone I was shit?

Next? New and Nine

New is nuevo/nueva. Nine is nueve. Stop fucking with me!!

For real. This is ridiculous. So yes, I told the girl I loved her nice nine haircut. Good grief.

Last one?

Pain and Penis.

Pain is pena. Penis is pene. I’m so fucking done.

Thank God there is another word for pain-dolor. I use that one now. I think I only once said I had a penis in my back. I learned the proper word right quickly 🙄

My biggest flubs still come from trying to say an actual full sentence like “your dog doesn’t like me” It should sound like this: “a tu perro no le gusta”. What it comes out like is this: “no me gusta tu perro” I don’t like your dog. Ugh!!

Sorry I really do like your dog!! Don’t be mad at me!!! Wait, come back! I’m really a nice person. I promise.

It’s frustrating and funny at the same time. I remember my first six months down here I questioned what I was doing here. I couldn’t for the life of me understand these people. Iva how are you going to do this??

Poco a poco. I’m learning. It’s hard af to learn a new language. As much as I love learning new things, I gotta tell ya, learning Spanish isn’t on that list of things.

But I’m learning. I’m back to twice weekly lessons. I’ll get this figured out one day. Until I do, I’ll be sure not to tell people I have a penis in my back. 🤦‍♀️

If I stay committed to my lessons, I am hoping to be relatively fluent in a year. Here’s to hoping. For now, I’ll try not to be too mierda or embarrassed of my silly flubs and just laugh at myself.

Peace and Love

xo iva xo

Self help Guru|Expat|Website: mini self help eBook series here:

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