When we travel to foreign lands, it makes sense to learn a handful of basic phrases to make sure we can at least make it through the day. Here in Mexico, such phrases might include basics, such as buenos días, buenas noches, gracias, ¿cuánto cuesta? and no hablo español, which mean good morning, good night, thank you, how much does it cost, and I don’t speak Spanish, respectively.
Now, if you follow my website or have read my welcome article, I write stories with local anglophones in mind; folks that live here year-around, call Puerto Vallarta ‘home,’ and/or spend a considerable amount of time here, every year—say, six months or more. Needless to say, since you are a local, I must trust that you know the aforementioned basics. But there are so many more useful phrases that when strategically inserted in conversation, will truly welcome you into the realm of authentic locales. (Like the wonderful cultural ambassador, real estate mogul and overall awesome party girl, Julie Guerrero. For some strange reason, as I type this, I can totally picture her in my mind saying locaaaaaales as though she wants to truly make a point as she says it, but I digress…)
The following survey contains 15 Spanish phrases or words that go beyond basic Spanish 101 for tourists. How many do you know? Take the test to find out how much of a local you truly are!
Don’t be shy! It’s completely anonymous!
IMPORTANT: The test is at the bottom of this post, but we’ve placed our interpretation of the scores here so you can scroll back and take a look at them after you’ve gotten your result.
80% or Higher
I bow in your general direction! You are a bona fide ambassador. You’ve done your homework, you’ve paid your dues, and are fully prepared to take your well-deserved place at the locales table. You are more than qualified to truly enjoy Puerto Vallarta and the rest of Mexico and make the best of it. Never stop learning. Never stop being curious. Never stop inspiring other anglophones to follow your path.
Awesome! Being in this tier, you’ve probably stopped using phrases such as “Old Town” or “South Side,” and actually refer to Colonia Emiliano Zapata by its real name, out of respect. Also, you’ve probably read this awesome essay in The Guardian about how politically incorrect it actually is to label yourself as an expat and have stopped using the phrase. (Surprise! Now you know why I’ve opted to use the phrase “local anglophone,” instead.)
Congratulations! You’ve probably realized that the more you know, the better you will enjoy your life here. In fact, you may not know it, but you are well on your way to becoming an ambassador to other anglophones that may be considering relocating to Puerto Vallarta. Keep it up!
You may be spending too much time playing cards with your English-speaking posse at the beach. When was the last time you went wandering around Pitillal just for the sake of it? Binge on a Netflix series in Spanish, venture away from our city for a weekend and visit a nearby destination where English speakers are not so prevalent, or simply dare yourself to not speak English when you go out to run your errands. You’ll be confidently placing orders at taco stands around the city or shopping at the Libramiento Saturday market in no time.
15% or Lower
Well, what can I say… The good thing Puerto Vallarta is a huge, diverse sandbox, with enough room for everyone. You’ll probably continue to get by because we mexicanos spoil you rotten by answering all your questions in English wherever you go around town, but chances are you’ll be absolutely miserable in other amazing cities, such as Guadalajara or Mexico City without a better command of Spanish, and you’ll continue to be shafted by local cab drivers or beach vendors. Do keep in mind that not knowing the local language is a lot like going to the movies without your glasses. You might get the big picture, but will always miss out on glorious details that others will enjoy, share and discuss. It’s your call.