“As today marks the holy celebration in the Catholic faith, our service will continue with a reading from the Easter sequence (in Spanish: la sequencia) prior to the Liturgy of the Word.” An awkward silence hung in the air following this brief announcement.
It was in that moment I knew I had messed up.
The lector pointed in my direction and waved me to come forward. Dumbfounded I turned around, hoping her nod and gesture were directed to someone behind me. Unfortunately, the woman sitting behind me in church only confirmed that it was me whom was being invited to come forward to read.
I had only just met the lector that morning and we had shared a very brief conversation before the start of mass. Apparently during that very brief conversation, she had asked if I would read la secuencia during mass.
Apparently, I had said yes.
When giving presentations to high school students about past travel experiences to Costa Rica and Perú, I have always advocated the importance of saying “yes” to any potential opportunity. In my experience, life is really a lot of fun when you just say “yes”, even when you don’t know what you’ve signed up for.
While not every “yes” leads to an extraordinary adventure, tagging along on trips to the grocery store, family gatherings and other events has enabled me to hundreds of people and helped me to get to know the city which has now been my home for a whole month!
Any invitation that mentions dulce de leche is always a “yes”. The stuff is unreal. While Uruguay may not have peanut butter, dulce de leche makes for a nice – but slightly unhealthier – alternative, and you can eat it with everything. Bananas. Apples. Toast. Crackers. Cookies. Ice cream. Just yesterday per recommendation from Daniel (my host dad) I spread it on a slice of mozzarella cheese. Incredible. As Guillermo says, “Nunca es suficiente.” You can never have too much.
Some foods, on the other hand, have required more bravery on my part to accept, including:
- la morcilla – blood sausage
- los chinculines – cow intestine (sausage)
- las riñones – kidney
- lengua de vaca – cow tongue
Here are just a few things I said “yes” to these past few days!
Should we make empanadas for dinner tonight?
Want to go fly a kite for Easter?
How about an American breakfast today?
Want to illegally enter Brazil to visit a local school?
Memories and relationships are made one “yes” at a time. This past Saturday I asked a group of dudes at the Plaza de Deportes if I could join their hoops game. Sticking with the theme they told me, “Yes.”
However, their answer and subsequent comments were in Portuguese. Oh boy.
You may have heard that Portuguese and Spanish are closely related, which is true! Having said that, while they could comprehend my Spanish without any issues, it was extremely difficult for me to make sense of their Portuguese.
It was without question one of the strangest phenomenons I have ever experienced. I was able to speak but could not be spoken to. For all intents and purposes I was deaf. That might be a stretch, because I have heard Portuguese nearly every day since I arrived in Rivera and my knowledge of Spanish helps me get by, but you get what I’m saying.
Thankfully, sports know no language.
I stayed at the park for over three hours. As I biked home, I thought to myself, “Besides sport, is there anything else in the world that people of different languages can consistently enjoy together for three hours?”
Contrary to the answer to my other questions, I’m convinced the answer to this particular question is be “no.”
We played game after game after game, taking time to toss the football around between games. More and more people kept coming to the park and berode long we had a pretty decent crowd watching us hoop. Brazilians, Uruguayans, and one pasty guard from Minnesota.
Eventually it was time to head home… “Good game. Obrigado. Gracias. Qué te vaya bien. Bom noite. Hasta la próxima. Bye-bye. Tchau…” but by the time we parted ways it sounded as if we were all speaking the same language.
Back to Easter mass… As I’m panicking internally, a friend of mine – whom had joined me a few minutes after the service began – quickly realized what had taken place. She looked at me and took my place on the alter.
Crisis averted. Until next time, my likely response to any question remains:
Algo bueno: Easter! Diego, Guillermo & many other Riverenses came home for the week.
Algo malo: No maple syrup in Uruguay, so we had our pancakes with jelly.
Algo curioso: To call someone a “brown-noser” in Uruguay, you say chupamedia, which means “sock-sucker.”