Last night, I had to take two important steps in my new life as a Mexico City resident – order a taxi, and then talk to the taxi driver. First I called the front desk:
Me: Hola, buenos noches! Estoy en cuarto doscientos y cinco. Puede llamar un taxi, por favor.
Front desk: Si, diez minutos, senora.
Me: Gracias! Puede usted llamarme por favor cuando el taxi está aquí?
(Full disclosure: I had to use Babelfish to make sure I said this right.)
Front desk: Si.
Then, the taxi arrived. I was starting to feel downright triumphant. It worked!
Me, to the driver: Buenos noches! Voy a la Condesa…calle Michoacan, numero diez – entre Amsterdam y Insurgentes.
And he took me to my destination.
Me: Cuanto cuesta?
Then he mumbled something I didn’t quite understand. I heard a flurry of numbers. I started to get nervous and panicky, and when that happens, my language skills plummet.
Me: “Mas despacio, por favor.”
Then he mumbled something slightly slower that I still didn’t understand. So I shoved some money at him. It wasn’t the right combination of pesos, so he helped me figure it out, and eventually I gave him what I felt was the right amount of money, and then got the right amount of change.
Me: “Los sientos. Aprendo espanol…Buenos noches!”
He just sort of laughed, and I’m sure rolled his eyes.
Still, though, this is progress, as bumpy as it may seem. A week ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do all this on my own.