Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Quick Dip into Latin America

I have rediscovered why I loved working in the international area of the Census Bureau so much so long ago. I have just spent 3 days with wonderful people from all over Latin America and from Spain, France, and the UN. I finally found a woman tonight who spoke English worse than I spoke Spanish, so we ate dinner together and spoke only Spanish. I attended an executive meeting of statistics office directors this afternoon (in Dr. Kincannon´s place) and forced myself to not use one word of English. The Spanish would come if only I were here just a little longer. I could understand everything in the meetings, in Spanish and surprisingly in Portuguese (which sounds like a weird version of Spanish).

But what I love most is the people. I now have good friends in lots of countries. The director of the Peruvian statistics office brought me cookies at every break and told me “I want to make you fat.” I ate the cookies and thought “How cute!” The director of the Brazilian statistics office gave me a special invitation to come to Rio next spring when the group reconvenes.

I commissioned Martin from the UN to do my shopping when I realized that I was not going to have one minute to buy anything. He gladly accepted, but then came back empty-handed with only pictures of very cool, very colorful Spanish churches. So we spent time talking about all the native birds he saw in the local nature preserve and he agreed to send me the pictures of the churches.

I had thought that I might just come down to Mexico and hide in my room since I didn´t know anyone. My room is certainly worth hiding in, since it has a sitting room and a bedroom that could easily sleep 4. In fact Martin commented that in his graduate student days he could have put 12 people into a room that size. But I really only stayed in my room to sleep. I thoroughly enjoyed the company of my many new-found friends and proved to myself how very easy it is to make friends when you want to.

I would really like to slide into Spanish the way all of these people seem to be able to handle English. I hope I get some more opportunities like this one to go in that direction. The world is so much bigger than home...

But, come to think of it, I am looking forward to seeing David and Daniel and the dogs tomorrow and Rachel on Friday. I have a bat mitzvah to go to soon!

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