14: High School French
This one is a double-sided thanks. It is extremely helpful for little things like ordering coffee and exchanges with hotel staff. But when the little things are successful it can balloon and I have to ask for English and on at least two occasions has caused people to become very frustrated and upset with me for wasting their time.
This is a different experience from our last trip. On that occasion our remedial attempts were appreciated and people were (or at least seemed) happy to excuse our broken French and indulged our request for English conversation.
We are located in a different part of the city and one that is not frequented by tourists. However, we have heard English around this business park just as frequently as French. So English speakers are about, but with the reactions I have been getting, I can only assume that they also speak French beyond four sketchy years of French class at Brookside High.
Regardless, I am impressed with how much I do remember from those years. It is not much, let’s be honest, and before we arrived I could barely remember how to say hello. Little by little basics have returned. It’s nice to know that it wasn’t completely lost. Although it does remind me that I always wanted to be able to speak another language. It is almost unfortunate to be born an English speaker in an English-speaking country. There is no real drive to learn another language or the opportunity to use it regularly.
I am glad I remember a bit of my high school French, but I continually kick myself for not taking Spanish in high school. It would have been very useful for those five months with the circus and the Mexican crew.
Hindsight is always 20/20.