The Joy of Language

Being the modern day social media person that I am, I felt compelled to share what I was eating for breakfast my last day in Paris. Mostly cause I was at Paul and I dream almost daily of their crunchy baguettes avec beurre et confiture. Less than 5 minutes later I had a message, are you in Paris? Mais bien sur! It was from an Austrian friend Lea who taught skiing in Portillo, Chile and was going to the Sorbonne University in Paris. We made a plan to meet up later that night at Ma Bourgogne on the Place de Vosges. I had wanted to take Micah to visit  Victor Hugo’s house, Les Mis fanatic that he is, so it was perfect.

We reconnected after only being in touch via social media for the last two years. She caught me up on what was happening in her life and I shared mine. Micah engaged us in a game of 20 questions World Geography edition. As you know, dining in most Paris Bistros is quite intimate. If your elbow is sticking out too far, you are probably bumping your neighbor’s Dijon mustard. Our closest neighbors were speaking Spanish, so we tried to figure out where they were from. We crossed out Chile and Argentina right off the bat. Earlier in the day when we were waiting to hike up the Eiffel Tower, we were in line with a group of Chilenos and Argentinos . They were trying to “summit” the tower with their country’s flag, only to have them confiscated by the police. Who knew that you couldn’t bring a flag up the Eiffel Tower? So no explosives, weapons of any kind, and or flags. My guess after listening to their accent was either Mexico or Columbia. Lea concurred. Next another group sat down next to them, also speaking Spanish, but they were obviously from Spain with that strong TH sound coming off most words. I had to know where our neighbors were from so I asked in my best Spanish, “De donde eres ustedes”? Mexico City was the answer. Yes, we were right, kind of. We started chatting and turned out the husband also spoke fluent German, so he and Lea conversed in German and I spoke to his wife in a mix of Spanish and French. The fact that we could connect in each other’s languages made us fast friends and we spent the rest of the meal chatting back and forth. What really sealed the friendship was finding out that they were passionate skiers and even had a place in Park City. I promised a copy of SNOW and we headed out. Just as we were leaving, right before midnight, a old man came in to have his dinner. He was just shy of 100 and I said a few words in French to him and 30 minutes later we walked out the door. One of our best nights of the trip and it was language and the ability to converse in other languages that gave us a special connection. Even the waiter who, upon hearing us speak English as we entered and treated us as you would expect a French waiter to, was practically sitting down to chat with us by the end of the night.