Puerto Vallarta is a special place to my husband and I. We came here 22 years ago as our first vacation together. It was my first vacation that didn’t involve family members watching my every move. 😉 Of course, the city is much different now than it was then. The core of the town with the old church, market and cobble stone streets are there but condos have sprouted up along the coast line, there’s an Outback steakhouse and a Walmart. I love walking around in the old part of town and getting a feel for some of Mexico’s history. That’s the best part of travelling is being exposed to completely different culture and learning more about the world we live in. As I type this I’m taking a break from the sun in out hotel room, listening to the waves of the Pacific bashing against the shore
I completely admit that I’m a candy junkie. That’s another part of travelling I love it discovering new treats we don’t have at home. Usually the best place to find junk food it down the grocery store candy aisle. It was during a quick visit to the local Walmart where I leaned what I think was a valuable life lesson about perspective.
You see, as we walked around I the store it dawned on me that I had no idea what was being said around me. The announcements made no sense as Mexicans speak very quickly and the minute amount of Spanish words I know, I missed. I could read very little on the signs around me. Really, I was guessing at what everything said. The flipflops weren’t sized in numbers I recognized. And then it really hit me when we were standing in the check out line. I had no idea what was being said around me. The teenage cashier gave us a sigh and a bit of an eye roll when it became obvious we didn’t speak the language. It takes a long time to mentally translate Spanish into English, then think of an answer, mentally translate it into Spanish and then communicate it using the few words available to me.
I’m not blaming the cashier, but it made me wonder if I’ve ever made someone feel like that. Have to spoken to someone like they are slow because they didn’t speak English? How may times has someone come through my line at work and really only know the words Hello and Thank you but it’s obvious that they missed everything else I said? Believe me I’ve said “Grasias” about a gazillion times because it’s really the only way I can communicate and I don’t want to come off as rude.
What about all the people new to Canada, from around the globe? Refugees for example that are suddenly in a country they don’t know the language? How incredibly overwhelming and possibly frightening those first few weeks/months would be as you struggle to communicate. .
I really hope I’ve never made anyone feel less because they didn’t speak our language. I’d like to think I’d never do that but I’ve never thought about so I can’t be certain. But, the next time someone comes though my line at world and is obviously struggling with the language, I’m going to remember my trip to a Mexican Walmart. There is nothing wrong with learning to look at life from someone else’s perspective.
Our flight back is on Wednesday and I’m looking forward to getting home. I’m also trying to figure out how many packages of Freska and Obleas customs will let me bring in.