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Do you speak Mexican?

Brothers in ChristSometimes when my Grandpa talks about the Spanish-speaking people in Texas, he says they “talk Mexican.” While this is “incorrect” usage (they speak the same language in Spain, you know), if you go to Mexico you’ll find that they do use the term mexicano to refer to a language–Nahuatl, to be precise.

Nahuatl is the most widely-spoken indigenous tongue in Mexico, and is the native language of the Aztec people who once had a wide-stretching empire and a glorious capital city (Tenochtitlán) where Mexico City now stands. When reading histories of the conquest of Mexico by the Spanish conquistadores, you often get the impression that after the Aztecs were conquered, they just disappeared. However, this is far from the truth. This people is still alive and well, and although they have abandoned many of their traditions, their language still lives on and is in no danger of extinction.

Although Nahuatl is often treated as a single language, it has many variations and dialects in different regions, not to mention Classical Nahuatl which was spoken in ancient times. There are quite a few resources for Nahuatl to be found on the internet (although most are in Spanish), but nevertheless I have found nothing for the particular dialect that I encountered, Western Huasteca Nahuatl. Thus, I hope that the following words and phrases will be useful to anyone who may be going to the Huasteca and wants to be at least a bit knowledgeable of the native dialect. Read More

El Cañón

Xilitla municipality

In the clouds

Sunday morning found us on the highway south, headed to the Xilitla municipality. This part of San Luis Potosí was very near the state line of Querétaro, but we did not go that far south. Instead we headed up into the green mountains, and forsaking the paved highway the van slowly crawled along the rocky roads along the slopes. I refrain from saying “dirt roads” because this would be misleading–the roads were paved with quite large rocks, making any speed whatsoever in a vehicle quite difficult. As we saw various people crossing the road as they took the footpaths through the hills, I could not help but envy them. How much I wished I could be out on the trails, taking a faster pace but also being able to enjoy God’s creation up close. But I was confined to the van, so I was content.

These mountains are not as rugged as those of central Mexico, and are probably not as high due to their close proximity to the ocean. They reminded me much of the Appalachians, since they were all green and covered with foliage. Beneath this outer covering, however, they are solid rock. As we followed the meandering road, mist overhung the mountains and we were soon in the clouds. Across the valley we were able to see the town of Xilitla–the chief city of that region–and all along the way the scenery was beautiful. There were numerous cattle grazing on the mountainsides, and as I watched the verdant landscape with occasional stone fences and steps, I could almost fancy myself in Ireland or Scotland.

At long last we turned off the road and came up to a concrete building painted turquoise on the front. As I read the words Iglesia de Cristo on the front, I knew we had arrived. We were running behind schedule, but since Mexicans are wont to do this as well, I’m sure no one minded waiting on us. Quite a few people came out to greet us, even with a holy kiss. Though this may seem odd, it is the custom of some, and it is certainly Biblical. Read More

Signs of Mexico

While travelling in Mexico, I discovered an amusing pastime of watching roadsigns and taking pictures of them. From what I gather it seems that in the past they’ve had trouble with someone abducting the signs; what do you think?

No Destruya Las Señales “No Destruya las Señales,” that is, “Don’t Destroy the Signs.”


Obedezca las Señales “Obedezca las Señales,” which means “Obey the Signs.”


Cinturones de Seguridad son ObligatoriosYes, you have to wear your seatbelt, even in Mexico! (In fact I would recommend it, seeing how some people drive down there.)

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Firsts

Montañas

While in Mexico this past week, there were several things I did for the first time. Besides it being my first visit to the state of San Luis Potosí, below are four “firsts” from this trip. It was definitely a learning experience!

First time to act as a translator

Since I was the only one of our number who could speak Spanish, a translator went with us while we were in Mexico, who would translate anytime they wanted to talk to people. Since most people down there know Spanish, we usually had no problem.

I myself had never tried translating for someone, but when we were in Huichihuayán (pronounced wee-chee-wah-YAHN) at the preachers’ training school, I found myself talking to some of the students there while our translator was busy elsewhere. Then when a couple of the men of our group came up to join the conversation, of necessity I told them in English what was being discussed. Thus it came about that I would tell the one side in English what was said, and then tell the Mexican brethren what the others were saying, and so on, back and forth. It was great practice, and I think I did fairly well, though certainly not as well as our Mexican translator. There were times that I didn’t understand what someone said, and there were times when I didn’t know the word for something, but overall I was able to get the point across. Read More