Language Complex

I was missing breakfast burritos and I knew just the place to visit for that. This little restaurant is located right off 5th Avenue towards the beach on Calle 8 Norte. There on the right you will see a cute sign that displays Madrez Cafe.

Two weeks ago, I decided to visit Madrez. It brings some good memories as it was one of my frequently visited restaurants with a friend from Australia back in the spring. I remember the restaurant owner as he welcomed us and happens to be from Arizona. However that day I did not see him.

I want to provide a side note here. My Spanish has improved a lot in just a short amount of time I have been here.

But as any language learning goes… we all make mistakes. Some severe, some innocent, some just down-right-idiotic-stupid-embarrassing ones. As you can guess… I made the down-right-idiotic-stupid-embarrassing one. My Spanish was great! Well up to a point… I wanted a straw. But for the life of me I couldn’t remember while I was sipping my iced latte by the rim.

Suddenly… after some careful thought… I remembered ‘la pajita’. I was so proud I remembered the word for a drinking straw… however it took a downward spiral as I asked…

“¿Tiene una pajita para mi latte, por favor?”

The expression on this guy’s was both priceless and concerning. I mean severely concerning… for a second I thought I was saying a bad word. He gave me this ridiculous puzzled look and said… “Como? Lo dice otra vez?” I repeated myself saying the word one more time and decided to demonstrate a drinking straw. Use your imagination guys… because it is exactly how you would think to demonstrate how to drink from a straw.

I wish I could have recorded this entire scene. I remember I was already flushed from the heat and to add on more due to the embarrassment of my word choices and demonstration. I was sweating… and I mean SWEATING. Not to mention he was laughing… way to kill the buzz of eating my food and drinking that delicious latte.

He noticed my uneasiness and decided to mention in PERFECT… CLEAR… UNDERSTANDING… English. This fool, he speaks English. F*** my life. I am thankful he at least corrected me for the appropriate choice of vocabulary.

The lesson from this? I now know the correct word for straw here in Mexico…

El popote.

In Mexico, straw is el popote.

I also recently found out many different countries have different ways of saying straw in Spanish. I knew there would be some differences but I did not realize what a significant difference it would be.

So I did some research and this is what I found…

Courtesy of SpeakingLatino

In addition to my learning. Not all Spanish speaking countries have the same way of saying a lot of specific words. With that in mind, apparently each country also says banana differently along with MANY other words.

I wish I found this chart before proceeding with the word la pajita.

My friend who is from Argentina also mentioned to me that it could also mean something bad. I think I will leave this part out, mostly because my actions demonstrating a straw pretty much demonstrates the possible other meaning of la pajita.


To break this ice here, I’m sitting in Starbucks yet again to write. A man’s phone went off and the ringtone really sparked my day…

Modern Talking — You’re my heart, You’re my soul

I’m sure this song is going to linger in my head for the next few days and jamming a ridiculous dance to go with it. However… in the comfort of my own home.

For the kiddos don’t know this song, you should totally look it up. It was the jam back in the 80’s up to the early 90’s.


My advice

It is great that people want to learn a new language. It is fantastic and I highly encourage it. Don’t take the language lessons in school for granted. You’d be surprised of some things you remember or know. THE USEFULLNESS IS A PAY OFF.

With that being said… when a word is uncertain, even if you remember the vocabulary for it… LOOK UP THE DAMN WORD… just in case. I would recommend it more for Spanish. Spanish is a widely used language that many Spanish speaking countries, especially Latin America, have different meanings.

Language teachers/professors, please tell and remind students that there are many ways to say one word differently. Yes phrases can be interchangeable, but I feel words are more important because one word in one country could mean that vocabulary that is being expressed but could mean something totally different in another country.

This shouldn’t stop anyone from wanting to learn a new language or even wanting to speak it. I have made so many mistakes here. In the beginning it was embarrassing and to the point I wish not to speak it anymore.

Being here in Mexico, I have to communicate. I love to communicate. I had to regardless of my situation. As time passed, it really became easier. That easiness soon turned into giving zero f**ks as long as I’m communicating and having a level of understanding. This does not mean I am not focusing on how to be a better Spanish speaker. In fact, by over coming the fears of mistakes, opened the door to endless opportunities to learn from those mistakes.

For example… I can now take a taxi at the local price. Swaaaagg.

Lessons to myself

Listen to those who are helping me even if they may sound like wankers. If they repeat what was said that didn’t sound right… repeat how they say it because that is the only way to improve. Chances are they are trying to correct the sentence structure.

Let me tell ya, I remember el popote now.