Learning Spanish in Arequipa

I’m currently in Arequipa, Peru. It’s Peru’s second largest city, which apparently doesn’t change the fact that it’s incredibly small. Conveniently, it’s also incredibly cheap. The first gym I found cost S/1 (~$0.35) for a day pass, but it turned out that pretty much all the machines were broken, so I had to splurge for a fancier gym at S/3 (~$1) for a day pass. Prices are so low here that people often refer to the city as “Arecheapa” although by “people” I mean me and only in my head because I would get made fun of if I said that out loud.

My favorite inexpensive item is private Spanish lessons, which cost $6/hr for 1:1 tutoring (for comparison, it costs $16-28/hr in Lima). My Spanish tutor speaks English really well, but there are of course there are miscommunications. To date, they are as follows:

I had just switched to a new hostel that was really cheap, really disgusting, and much farther away from the tutor’s house, so I had to run the last few blocks and I was still a little bit late. When I came in, I explained, “Cambié mi hostal. Mi hostal nuevo está muy lejos.” [“I changed my hostel. My new hostel is very far away.”]. So she laughed and nodded and I added, “Es muy sucio.” [“It’s very dirty.”] She corrected me, “Estoy muy sucio.” I was a little confused because I knew what I said was correct. Then I realized she she had assumed that I was trying to say “I am very dirty.” What? Why would you assume that’s what I wanted to say? I chalked this up to the fact that she saw me sweating and not to the fact that I hadn’t showered or shaved in a few days and was wearing the same clothes she saw me in the day before.

My tutor was having me construct a sentence with the verb “disfrutar” which means “to enjoy oneself.” I always (incorrectly) think that this verb is reflexive, meaning the subject and object of the action are the same and so requires a reflexive pronoun. I conjugated it as “Nos disfrutamos” and by the way my tutor started giggling, I’m pretty sure this is like saying “We pleasured ourselves.” After she stopped laughing, she explained, “’‘Nos disfrutamos’ this is a… hot expression.”

She gave me a Peruvian slang worksheet and we were going over it when we got to “pucha” which is a variant of “puta”:

“Pucha: horny,” she said.
“But the sheet says puta.” This seemed to confuse her.
“Yes, puta. Horny,” she replied.
“But I thought puta was prostitute.”
“Yes, a woman who sells sex… is horny,” she said matter-of-factly.

I’ve noticed that this is a general trend and that South Americans often have trouble with “whore” in English. A lot of them think that “bitch” and “whore” are synonymous. Last weekend I was talking to a bartender who told me, “She’ll sleep with you on the first night if she’s a bitch.” Another girl I was talking to at a discoteca pointed out a couple making out and said, “You can tell that she’s a bitch because she just met him and she’s kissing him.” Even when they know when to use the word correctly, there are still issues. In Lima, a girl told once me “I have sex with men,” before quickly adding, “but I am not hork.”

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2 Responses to Learning Spanish in Arequipa

  1. Your Hermanita Your Hermanita says:
    Actually, I have a feeling that “Nos disfrutamos” means “We pleasured each other.” So it was even more of a hot expression than you thought.
  2. Al Al says:

    They’re all owned by the same umbrella corporation.

    You’ll also notice that they each teach you how to drive on different cars. #14 teaches you how to negotiate the streets of Peru in a Formula 1 race car. #10 is specifically for those aspiring to race on Daytona.

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