7. Practicing Spanish. Si me conoces, tú sabes. I love Spanish. I love the language. I love how it sounds. I love speaking it and hearing it. And I love hispanohablantes.
So when the Mexicans, Spaniards, and Argentinians chatted me up, you better believe I was loving it. Tú sabes.
I practiced for hours. In restaurants. Around a campfire. At bars. On balconies. I learned new words (flecha = arrow). I remembered words I never thought would be useful (deslizar = to slip). And I explained my affection for Mexico and my belief that a lot of Americans just don’t understand the importance of the relationship.
Some of my new acquaintances complimented my accent, which made me incredibly giddy. I used to get nervous in front of native speakers because I didn’t want to sound like just some idiot. Hearing that I speak well, especially after not really practicing in five years, was about almost as good as going to the prom with Chris Flores sophomore year.
So, while the World Cup was in South Africa, España’s ability to conquer extended further than the Copa Mundial itself. It echoed in the chants of thousands of Spanish-speaking fans from Paraguay, Uruguay, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, y Honduras. ¡Olé!