Lacking Language

I’m one of those guys that loves to set goals, but often beyond my reach – or life happens and the once important goal I set falls to the wayside. Such has been the case with my goal of learning Portuguese. I had it all planned out, but I haven’t put as much energy into it as I would have liked. My lack of practice came back to haunt me this past week.

As my previous post mentioned, I have been traveling with Martina and one of her host families from Brazil. It has been wonderful, but there have been some communication barriers since the parents don’t speak much English and I don’t speak much Portuguese. But I can tell from the translations Martina gives me, and the little communication we do manage, that both parents have great things to say and that talking to them would be a real delight!

Now, I cut myself a little slack, because Duolingo probably wouldn’t have made me fluent enough to have real deep conversations with them, but every little bit helps. And more than anything I have learned two things from this language experience.

First, learning languages is more than being able to get around a different country or add a skill to your LinkedIn profile. Its about connecting with people. Its about listening to different views and growing from these unique interactions; telling stories and sharing moments.

Second, language doesn’t have to be a barrier. This wasn’t the first time, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time that I connect with people in spite of a common language. And I know this is something that happens to all travelers.In other words, despite the small difficulties of a language barrier, I have genuinely come to love and appreciate Martina’s host family.

10357453_10152300859380677_8262620893160497139_n - Version 2The verbal communication we call language is only one way in which we communicate our feelings, thoughts, and ideas. I’m not going to stop trying to learn Portuguese – though slow my progress might be – so that I have another means of making those human connections.

Single Sunday

It’s the start of a new adventure, and Martina is leading the way. She’s already left for New York, but then Boston and I will meet up with her in Las Vegas. We’re actually playing tour guide/host to one Martina’s host families from Brazil (to understand the whole situation check out her blog here).

IMG_1727So for a single day, Sunday, I am a single dad. I realize those parents that deal really with this day-in and day-out are superstars and I’m glad I have my parents and little sister for help. Just having to care for Boston all night on my own was enough to really appreciate just how much Martina does for me and lil’ Boston. And even though Boston can’t tell me he misses his mommy, I can tell that he does. There were times last night that he did not want to be held by me, and he seemed to be looking for someone else to hold him: his mommy; but we worked through it and got through the night. Whew.

Fortunately, in just a few days we’ll be with Martina again. Meeting her host family for the first time in the flesh and seeing every iconic sight we can before they have to go back to Brazil. Here’s an outline of the trip:

New York City: Broadway, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and more.
Las Vegas: the Strip, Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon (not Vegas, but we’re gonna drive out to it, I mean it’s only 4 hours away after all).
California: San Francisco and it’s golden bridge, LA and it’s traffic jams, the Hollywood sign, and Fresno (to meet Martina’s family).

It’s gonna be a whirlwind trip for all of us, but it’ll be good to get out and adventuring!