Our home is called Campimento Guadalapano, a former camp for wayward girls from Panama City, sponsored by the Daughters of Guadalupe. Now it is th home of Iglesia de Cristo, the Church of Christ in El Valle.
Tuesday night, in the midst of a powerful rainstorm, we joined the local church (or they joined us, depending on how you look at it) in their Tuesday night singing. We sang each song in Spanish, then English, then Guna. Just as the rain lessened, they all piled into the two vans, owned by Americans, and were dropped off at their homes.
Wednesday morning Althea was walking across the large assembly room when she glimpsed two girls outside our gates and heard them calling to her. She was still in pajamas, so she told me and I went out.
The teen spoke excitedly in Spanish while the little one looked at me wide-eyed. I said, “Sorry. No Espanol. Do you speak English?”
“No ingles,” she said, and began again a rapid-fire explanation.
I held my hands palms up in what I hoped was the international gesture for “I have no idea.” She started speaking again.
Spanish, Spanish, Spanish. I shrugged. Then she decided to try the tactic of all good ol’ boys when they can’t get a “furriner” to understand: speak more slowly.
Looking me in the eye, she said, “Bee see clay tah.” I shook my head. Then stretching it out as for an extremely slow child, she said, “Bee…see…clay…tah.”
Finally, I gestured toward the building and she nodded fervently, so I unlocked the padlock and let her in the front door. Smiling, she went in and grabbed her bicycle that was sitting just inside the front door.
“Oh!” I said. “Your bicycle!”
“Yes,” she answered. “Bee-see-CLAY-tah.”
Later I found out it’s spelled bicicleta. If I’d seen it, it might have made sense, but of course that wasn’t an option. We hadn’t even noticed the bicycle there. I assume she got a ride home because of the rain.
At any rate, we both learned a new word that day, and I had a funny story to share with my LST readers—and my blog readers.