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Nos gusta la musica oompariachi…

August 13, 2014

I was going to write this in Spanish, but after a week speaking it more than half-time… it just feels good to be using English again.

So, my wife and I just got back from Mexico this evening.  We don’t get to go on vacation very often due to our situation, and this was the first child-free vacation we’ve taken in five years.  We’d hired a sitter to watch the children – to get them to and from camp, to make sure they were fed and bathed, and to do activities with them – and we headed off for the airport.

As I mentioned last time, I wrote a letter to them in Spanish before we went.  (And included my own translation, just to be sure.)


¡Hola, FACC!

Estoy escribiendo a Uds., porque mi esposa y yo viajaremos allá el miercoles por nuestras vacaciones.  Estamos esperando a disfrutar nuestra visita con Uds. – esta es las primeras vacaciones que podíamos hacer en cinco años.  (Estamos los padres de un niño con necesidades especiales, y no podemos viajar mucho por esta razón.)  Hemos escuchado muchas cosas buenas sobre su hotel, y no puedo decir bastante sobre como estamos feliz pasar nuestras vacaciones con Uds.

Mi esposa esta aprendiendo español, y ella se excita para probar sus abilidades con la lengua.  (Puedo hablar más, pero trabajaba en una companía que tenía oficinas en Mexico, y por eso, he tenido más oportunidades practicar.)

Mi esposa me pidió si escribiría una carta, y pedir si es posible pedir una habitación encima del tercero piso, con una cama de talle “king” y un balcón grande donde podemos sentarnos.  Entiendo que no Uds. pueden cumplir todas las peticiones que reciben… pero no duele pedir, ¿no?

Muchas gracias, y vamos a ver Uds. el miercoles.


Hi, staff at the Fiesta Americana Condesa Cancun!

I am writing to you this afternoon because my wife and I will be traveling to your hotel on Wednesday for our vacation.  We are hoping to enjoy our visit with you – this is our first vacation in five years.  (We are the parents of a child with special needs, and cannot travel often for that reason.)  We have heard many good things about your hotel, and cannot say enough about how happy we are to spend our vacation with you.

My wife is learning Spanish, and she is excited to try out her ability with the language.  (I can speak better than she, but I have worked for a company that had offices in Mexico, and so I have had more opportunities to practice.)

She has asked if I would write a letter and ask if it is possible to request a room above the third floor with a king size bed, and a large balcony to sit and watch the ocean.  I realize you cannot fulfill all requests that you receive, but it never hurts to ask, right?

Thank you very much, and we will see you Wednesday.


Of course, I had no idea whether or not a letter would work, if it would be presumptuous to ask for so much, things like that.  A resort hotel, after all, only has so many rooms that fit those requirements – especially when my wife booked a room that ostensibly wouldn’t have an ocean view.  In the end, we got actually everything that we requested, and in spades – the room had fabulous views of the Gulf of Mexico and a nice balcony that we could sit on, with a big bed where we could be comfortable.

The other half of the trip, though, was the fact that we were going to be in Mexico… and I hate being seen as an “ugly American” when we travel, with the stereotype that we expect everyone to cater to us.  (I’m ugly enough as is.)  And granted, of course, the hotel staff is accustomed to Americans coming to the hotel, so we could expect the majority of employees to speak some English.  But as I’ve made reference to before, my wife’s been studying Spanish on Duolingo, and we both went into it prepared to try to use as little English as possible while we were in Cancún.  I did teach her a few additional phrases before we went, since she’s not gotten very hard, (primary among them “Estoy aprendiendo español”), and off we went.

And perhaps surprisingly, it went very well.

Even I had to resort to English now and again, when an unfamiliar word cropped up.  I did manage though to make it through most of my interactions with anyone in Spanish – not counting the timeshare pitch, or one or two matters where I switched to ensure I was absolutely saying what I meant – and that included side-trips to the Museo Maya de Cancún, El Rey and Xcaret.  (Probably a good thing because at the first two of the three, no one we encountered spoke English.)  The highlight of my week was in the spa yesterday, when the attendant asked me where I’d grown up, because he couldn’t quite place my accent.  He was shocked when I mentioned that I’m from the States, and that I actually learned Spanish in high school (with opportunity to practice and work on it since then).

More impressive, though – the wife managed to make it through the week largely in Spanish.  She fumbled a lot, she got tongue-tied, and she commented that she had quite a few spots where she either didn’t know all the words being used, or couldn’t keep up with what was being said, but she did really well for having only been learning Spanish for four months.

The title of tonight’s post, though, comes from our second night at the resort, when we were at the on-site Mexican restaurant.  Some musicians started playing outside, and the instruments and music sounded like a combination between oompah and mariachi music, so we started taking guesses as to what it was.  (Best guess: “It sounds like an oompah band and a mariachi band got drunk and nine months later… so ‘oompariachi’.”)  Turns out it was ‘banda’, but our name was funnier…

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