"A day without laughter is a day wasted" -Charlie Chaplin
I like that quote. It has a lot of depth to it for just a few words. Laughter is beautiful, and comes in many forms, and definitely is a big part of my experience here in Mexico.
I love listening to others laugh, even when I am not involved in the conversation, or potentially even know what is going on. At 10 de Abril, I do get the chance to know the people who come, but I do not often get the chance to spend a lot of time with them. When there are a lot of tasks to accomplish for the meal to get done (like cutting lots of vegetables, heating up tortillas, making the juice-type drink...) I barely get to spend any time with the senior citizens who come. I will get to eat with them, but that is a quick 10 minutes, and even then I am busy making sure people get more to drink if they want it and they get their dessert whenever they finish their meals. That hasn't stopped me from forming relationships with them, but just lacks time to enjoy the relationships in which we have formed sometimes. But, one thing that I absolutely love about all my friends at 10 de Abril (okay, I could name a million things that I love about them all, because they are so great, but here is just one) is how much they have all formed friendships within themselves. They are outside for 2 hours while I am in the kitchen, and sometimes I can just hear their conversations and laughter, and it just makes me smile so much, even when I have no idea why they are laughing. For example, last Wednesday I was working on shredding the chicken to put in the Ensalada Rusa off to the side in the kitchen, and it was starting to become a monotonous task and at that moment Vero (who I work with in the kitchen) was somewhere else, so it was just me and this really hot chicken burning my hands as I am pulling apart the meat. Then, out of nowhere, I heard 4 or 5 women just burst out with laughter, and they could not stop! They were laughing so hard, that I just started smiling and laughing too (mind you, completely unaware at what was said). When Vero came back in the kitchen, she asked me why I was smiling and laughing and what was so funny. I told her that I just heard everyone laughing outside and it made me smile, which in turn had her look at me a little funny, but then she knows how much I love everyone there, so she carried on with her day. I really think it is great how 10 de Abril is a place to bring people together, for friendships, and clearly for tons of laughter.
I love laughing with people over ridiculous miscommunication. This happens to me a lot, I will not lie about that at all. Not speaking Spanish clearly allows for many mistakes and misunderstandings of words, which can lead to some good laughs. I've had moments as simple as asking "A donde vas?" (Where are you going) and that gets heard as "Como estas?" (How are you doing?) so the answer is completely different than the question, but that is pretty easy to roll with. However, working in a nursing home also opens the door for some good miscommunication. I can't remember all the great moments, but one that comes to mind real quickly was recently a conversation with my favorite resident from Las Palomas, Juana (I know, I know, I am not supposed to ever choose favorites, but I easily can point out my favorite person there). She doesn't always remember everything, and will ask me the same questions over and over again, even though I have been there for 6 months already. She does know who I am now, and has been remembering my name a lot and even some basic information, such as that I only have one older brother. But, I still enjoy every second that I spend with her, and we sure enjoy laughing. But, back to the miscommunication story... Juana forgets that she eats about 5 minutes after breakfast, comida, and dinner. So, sometimes she will ask me if I ate and what I ate. One day, this is how our conversation went:
Juana: Ya comiste? (Did you eat already?)
Me: Si, ya comi (Yes, I ate)
Juana: Que comiste? (What did you eat?)
Me: Posole (pronounced po-so-lay, it is a soup made with either chicken or pork and elote, which is corn)
Juana: Que? Corazones?? (What? Hearts??)
Me: No, no, POSOLE!
Juana: [bursts into laughter]
Okay, I must say that Posole and Corazones do not sound the same at all to me in Spanish, but that is a little insight into my life. We laughed for a good 2 minutes straight after that. I have many little miscommunication situations everyday, but the best thing to do is just roll with it and laugh.
I love to laugh when I actually understand a joke in Spanish. So, I didn't think that jokes were so hard to get...until I started hearing jokes in Spanish. My family who I live with LOVES jokes. They are continuously telling bromas (jokes) and laughing, and I am usually sitting there, silent, and very confused at why everyone is laughing. Jokes are a play on words or expressions...and when you don't know all the words in the language that the joke is being said in, jokes aren't all that funny. When a joke gets said, and clearly I did not follow, one of two things happen. Either they take the time to retell the joke and explain it step by step to me (and that still only gets me to understand the joke about 50% of the time..) or they just go "Oh, Lisa, it's a joke, believe us, it was funny." and then they carry on with the rest of their conversations. BUT- a big moment happened the other day for me--> I understood a joke in Spanish! I do have a confession though, it was a joke that was written by a 2nd grader... but I still understood it in Spanish! I was at 10 de Abril and Vero was reading a book of jokes from a 2nd grader, and most of them went over my head until one, and I just laughed and laughed. Vero and Luz (the two women I work with) looked at me quite funny because it wasn't all that funny of a joke and I was laughing pretty hard, but when I explained to them that I hardly ever understand jokes in Spanish, they understood my happiness, and we all just laughed together. It was great. I actually understood a joke in Spanish, and I'm hoping it's my first of many!
There are many other times that laughter comes into play in my life here in Mexico, but those were just a few snapshots. I have good friends and family and coworkers to laugh with here, and that really helps in feeling comfortable with everything. Sometimes, whether it is the situation or lack of communication, the best and only thing to do is to laugh, and everyone just understands what it means. The best advice really is to live, love, laugh...
"Everybody laughs the same in every language because laughter is a universal connection." :D