I've mentioned before that my Spanish is slowly improving. Strange that the more you go out and interact with people, the more you speak the language. Since I first arrived almost a year ago I've understood more than I speak. Entiendo mas que hablo, as I seem to say on almost a daily basis.
Several times in the past couple weeks locals have stopped me, surprised by how well I speak. Just yesterday the guy behind the counter where I bought bread and yogurt said he thought I was just another guera, but that I speak very well. I answered that I'm from Chicago but live here with my husband. Soy de Chicago pero vivo aqui con mi esposo.
Now, I say that particular phrase A LOT so it rolls off my tongue rather quickly, further impressing whomever it is I'm speaking with. I have several "canned" phrases that I use quite frequently and I'm sure that helps add to the effect. That's fine with me, I enjoy being treated like a local.
That being said, every now and then I encounter someone that I just cannot understand. Through no fault of their own; they speak very clearly and I hear the words they're saying, but I can't get the meaning. The day my mother lost her wallet there was a man hellbent on getting me to understand something and all I could think was, "Why does he keep talking about the highway? Her wallet's not on the highway."
carretera = highway
cartera = wallet
Because I can rattle off a few words I fell into the trap common with people trying to speak a second language: I was too convincing.
I smiled and said sí, implying I understood, then ran off to tell Ibis about the crazy man telling me to look for the wallet on the highway.