After I got here, it took weeks to get settled into the apartment and learn how to find my way around the city. My Spanish was so poor that I was scared to try to call a taxi to take me anywhere, even if I had known where to go. I was beginning to get depressed.
But I am persistent. I kept asking my coworkers for ideas about places to go without being afraid I was in the “wrong” neighborhood. I went to the tourism website looking for things to do in Torreón.
I signed up for a course at an international language school. The class started at noon, so I decided to visit a park and museum on the way to the class. I asked around and looked at Google Maps and printed out the parts I needed to get to the class. I would walk to the park and from there get a taxi to the class.
I got started later than I planned, but I found the park with no problem. It was big and pretty, but I didn’t have time to go into the museum. I needed to get to the class. I found a taxi stand with a couple of guys sitting in the shade. I asked, “Disponible?” and receiving an affirmative answer, got in.
I told him where I wanted to go. He didn’t recognize the name of the place, so I reached for my map.
It wasn’t there.
Because of leaving late, I had forgotten it.
I couldn’t remember the address of the school (that’s the reason I had printed out the map!). I knew the general area where the school was supposed to be, but even though we stopped and asked several times, and he tried to located it with his phone, we couldn’t find it.
At 12:30 I said, “Please, just take me home.” When we got there, the fare was over 100 pesos. (An average ride is about 50.)
He refused to take any money from me. He felt bad because he couldn’t take me where I wanted to go.
I said, “Espera!” and ran upstairs to get my map. When I came back down and showed it to him, we both saw how close we had been.
In no time at all, we arrived at the school. The fare was 40 pesos, and he still didn’t want to take my money. I said, “You must take it,” and gave him 100.
The driver spoke English. He asked me about Louisiana and told me that in the past he had lived in Oklahoma. While we were driving around for over half an hour, we were able to have a conversation in English and Spanish. At first I felt really discouraged about not having the map, but by the time it was all over, I was happy about the way things turned out. I was an hour late for the two-hour class, but fortunately, I was able to catch up.
I’ve been so busy this past two weeks, what with the end of the quarter and the trip to Texas, but I’m really making progress! My Spanish is improving, with the classes and with practice, and I know my way around a little better now. I know where there are three malls with cinemas. I know at least two more decent restaurants. I know that there’s a Dairy Queen and a Home Depot in Torreón. I know where to get nice tortillas (that’s a story for another post).
Improvement is what matters, no matter how small. To be always moving forward, even if only an inch at a time. To shake off the fear and just do whatever it is that will take me out of the comfort zone, even if only a little.
This is the way I want to live.