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Archive for March, 2011

by E

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March 28th, 2011

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This weeks topic is on more hand gestures used in Latin America.  Now the gesture that we are talking about today is one of those that I just can’t get the hang of.  My husband spent some time in Brazil and he is very good at this.

Bring your thumb and middle finger together at the tips.  Make sure the index finger is loosy goosy.  Throw your hand in a downward motion and quickly back up again as if you were cracking a whip.  You should hear and feel your index finger snap again the middle finger.  I’ve spent a considerable amount of time praticing and still have been unsuccessful.  I can only imagine what others who might peep in on my practice session is thinking.  Needless to say, I had to abandon my efforts.  I’m pretty sure my wrist will be sore for the next couple of days.   I guess I’ll need to find another way to express getting in trouble or ándale (as Speedy Gonzales used to say).

If you want to try this gesture out, watch the video below.  Hopefully this helps you out. This kid gets a little fancy but I think you get the idea.


by E

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March 23rd, 2011

How many of you have heard horror stories about people traveling to Latin America and getting robbed of all possessions? Yes, it happens and it is something to be cautious about. Since Americans usually stand out like a sore thumb, we become easy targets. Here are some general rules to follow when traveling to Latin America.

Leave the diamonds home. Buy a cheap, worry-free CZ ring instead.

Cameras??? Take a small, point and shoot camera. If you are anything like me and can’t live without your DSLR, make sure you have insurance on the beast and keep the memory card seperate from the camera. If at all possible, leave the big camera home.

Hide your money! Back pockets are loose. Get a money clip and hide the money under your clothing.

Drape your bags diagonally across your body and make sure you can see the opening at all times.

A few of these tips will help keep your belongings secure, and keep the thieves off of your ‘Americano’ scent.

And as always, watch the natives for the “thief sign”. The thief sign is made by putting the hand with the palm sideways and bringing all four fingers in to touch the palm one at a time…beginning with the pinky finger. It’s very subtle, but can be very valuable if you see someone making that sign. Red flags fly saying a thief is nearby and may have their eye on you.

Don’t be a victim of robbery in Latin America. For any of you who are learning Spanish to travel to Latin America, I hope you take these precautions for a fun and safe trip!

by E

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March 18th, 2011

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I know you’ve heard this song over and over so you should know the words by now.  How well do you sing it in español?

by E

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March 15th, 2011

Ok, so I’m totally guilty of using my hands when I talk. Even on the phone, I am guilty. I may not use gestures to indicate certain feelings or emotions that someone may provoke, nonetheless, I still catch myself on occasion moving my hands as if the person on the other side of the phone can see where I am pointing (this happens a lot when I’m directing someone to a certain location). However, if traveling to another country I would be extremely cautious of using my hands during conversation. There are many gestures that can be offensive to other cultures. Since I’m not all-knowing in hand gesture translation, I think it best to keep my hands right by my side until I can get a feel for the native’s gestures and what may be appropriate. I haven’t had any experience with using hand gestures in other countries, but knowing my luck, I would innocently express positive feeling and end up seriously offending someone.

Anyone out there had an experience where you accidentally offended someone with a hand gesture that did not ‘translate’ in another country? I’d love to hear your story!

by E

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March 8th, 2011

This week’s culture topic in the newsletter is fantastic. I don’t know how I would be able to live in Latin America for too long without being completed dehydrated. I’m fairly picky when it comes to my water. It has to be a certain temperature, so cold that it’s nearly forming an thin ice layer on the top. So if I were to go to Latin America, I would definately ask for ice in my beverages. However, they may be on to something. Not only have we heard from Latinos not to drink cold water, I have also heard from doctors that you shouldn’t drink really cold beverages with a meal. The ice cold temperature that reacts with your meal actually slows down the digestion process and creates a ‘sludge’. The ‘sludge’ then lines the intestinal wall and turns to fat and eventually can lead to cancer. The Japanese drink hot tea with their meals. I may be the only one, but I’m seriously considering a change in beverage with my meals. What do you think?

by E

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March 4th, 2011

Ok, who out there has traveled in South America? I’ve only ever been to Mexico, but whoa! is it nuts?!? The drivers are all over the road and have no concept of keeping distance between the car ahead. I frequently road the bus and the drivers were constantly weaving in and out of lanes. I remember feeling quite nervous that I might never make it home alive. If you ever want to cross the road on foot, BEWARE. Those cars do not slow down for you. They honk giving you sufficient warning that if you do not remove your person from the road, you will be flat as a pancake. At least you get some warning, right? Just to be safe, wait until you can’t see any cars coming before crossing the road.

For those of you who have traveled to Mexico, or South America, what was it like for you? Did you have the same fears for your life? I’d love to know where you went and how easy (or difficult) it was to get around.

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