Unexpected absence

By Published On: September 1, 2005Categories: Language0 Comments on Unexpected absence

My Spanish teacher is one of the few Bolivians you can guarantee will arrive not just on time for a meeting but slightly early.  Every Wednesday I therefore rush back from work to make sure he is not kept waiting on my doorstep.

Whilst I make tea, he carefully unpacks his workbook with neatly written notes of what we covered last lesson, which he meticulously tests me on. 

Jaime has been teaching for many years and was recommended to me by some teachers in Cochabamba. He lisps as a result of lots of unexplained missing teeth. One lower tooth remains sticking out at a strange angle, which sometimes distracts me from crucial points of grammar. 

He has a passion for keeping spanish pure, unadulterated by the many influences that Aymara has on the language here. One of his favourite sayings when I make a mistake is: "No es un error, es un horror." When we chat, he often berates his own people for their false sense of nationalism that prevents a critical look at their weaknesses and failures.

Last night, I hurried back as usual from work and was therefore surprised when there was no sign of Jaime ten minutes after the proposed start of our lesson. There was no answer on the phone. Eventually I got through to him a few hours later.

Initially, he mumbled something about a meeting, then clearly decided truth might be a better option: "Sorry, Nick, the thing is, you see…. the truth is, Nick I had rather a lot of beers…. in fact I still…I mean I still feel the beers right now." There was a drunken pause, before he repeated himself.

As he started for a third time, I thought I might just try and fix the time for my next lesson. Somehow I doubt he had his diary at his side, but I took the risk and fixed a lesson for today. "Yep, I’ll be there! See you," he burbled cheerily as I put the phone down. Perhaps I will re-confirm this afternoon, just in case.


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