I panted, jogging in the dark back to the house, holding a can of tuna and a chocolate bar. A Peruvian singer croons in my earphones and I cannot understand him. My left hand stinks of garlic.
I had done a quick shop run when I realised I had forgotten the tuna for my garlic rice and I only spoke in Spanish. I walked into the store.
“Puedo por favor tener atun?” I said, proud of myself for trying a different phrase. (Can I please have tuna?”)
“Atun?” the shopkeeper reached for the cans behind him. I was a little disappointed that he didn’t seem to register my new phrase.
“Puedo por favor tener atun?” I repeated, just to ensure he heard(Can I please have tuna?).
Yeah, he got it. “Atun?” he said, moving his hand around the different brands.
“Real (the brand), Por Favor,” I said. “Y Sublime (brand of chocolate).”
“Extremo? (largest size)”
“Extrema negra (dark), por favor.” I gave him a 20 soles note, and I said “Buenas Noches,” and he said “Ciao!”
And as I jog past the gym I haven’t been to for weeks, in my blue Llama wool jumper, I think, “wow, I really like this person I am becoming.”
When I try to speak in Spanish my voice takes on a humble tone. It’s almost babyish, or apologetic, and it’s something that I like about myself. “I don’t know everything,” my tone suggests when I speak to anyone in the few heavily Aussie accented Spanish. “Please like me! Please like my words.”
I really want to learn Spanish. I mean, I really want to learn. I didn’t have such a strong desire to do so three weeks ago. But I feel really disadvantaged without it. The faster I learn it the happier I can be in Peru.
The only thing that has let me down my entire life are other people’s expectations and inadequacies, and allowing those to control me. My limitations should never be a sense of shame.