A reader asks, “Is it feasible for a single English speaking N American with virtually no Spanish speaking ability to spend and enjoy extended time (couple months or longer) in Puerto? How easy or difficult would it be to function in a satisfactory manner? Certainly if I were to stay any longer I would desire to get some quality language training. But….. initially????”
There are variables in that question that could be complicated when addressed in detail. That disclaimed: Because Puerto is a vacation destination foreigners are better served than in some areas of Mexico. The short answer is I would guess you could function with a level of confidence towards getting around – lodged, fed and entertained.
This is a two edged sword in that when a Mexican National (MN) sees a visitor, many automatically assume they will NOT comprehend what they say – thus Spanglish does not go as far as it might in areas less visited by foreigners.
Many MN will be patient and may even appreciate an awkward effort to communicate in their language – so do not hesitate to make best effort.
Many restaurants and even small markets may be ran by foreigners – again making the vacation destination an easier go of it. Most restaurants offer bi-lingual menus here about.
I have lived here in Mexico for ten plus years. In honesty my Spanish is not much more than first year high school capability. The more common words will collect in the head as time goes on – even for a blockhead with no foreign language skills.
Anita speaks pretty good Spanish with the added advantage of looking Latino (because she is). But most seem to know she is not a MN – even before she speaks. Perhaps green eyes and being taller than most MN hombres is a dead give-away?
There are any number of ways to learn Spanish including computer programs, educational institutions, tutor, intense language study etc. Electronic and printed translators can help. Over the years the translator in Google has continued to improve. We often use it to find specialty words like “pipe wrench” or “water faucet” etc. It even has an audio reader which can help speak the word(s)
I had to remind Anita when we were discussing this question that we had a lot of trepidation 10 years ago, that time and experience has erased. It is still fresh enough in my mind to know where this reader is coming from. I spent two months by myself early on in Xico, Veracruz. There were frustrations and fears regarding communicating. Of course they all got resolved.
Apparently this reader is on his own – even more trepidation. My advice is GO FOR IT! Mexico is worth it.
An interesting side note is because Anita is Latino and moderately Spanish language capable, when we are together a MN will tend to ignore my speaking efforts and look to Anita for an interpretation. She often suggests they listen again to my statement or question; and they often do and get it.
I am amazed at how I can say something in Spanish that will not be understood. Anita repeats. To my ears sounding exactly as I had said it – yet I was not understood. I still have not figured that out. Anita thinks they tune me out when my broken Spanish hits the air – drives me a little nuts ;-0
I should also point out that as one would expect the more intelligent among them will understand more of your efforts to speak the language. Look to people in positions of authority rather than a bell cap, food server or filling station attendant.
Remember no male MN will admit they do not know direction to…. Be patient, do not panic and remember there are more things different than the language here about – adventure abounds do not miss it. Stay Tuned!