My blog

B1, B2, Podcast

Condiments around the world – Condimentos alrededor del mundo

Hi English/Spanish Learners! Ayleen here, your teacher from wespeakidiomas.com

In today’s episode Chris and I talk about condiments around the world. Not only will this episode help you improve your listening skills, but it will also help you learn a few new words since we’ll be using different words to describe condiments and sauces in English and Spanish.

Episode 4: Condiments around the world – Condimentos alrededor del mundo

We discussed different types of sauces:

  • Brown sauce
  • Apple sauce
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Mint sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Chilli sauce
  • Sweet and sour sauce

In this podcast Chris used different adjectives to describes sauces:

Word in English Definition in English Spanish translation
thick almost solid, and therefore flowing very slowly, or not flowing at all espeso
mild not very strong or hot-tasting suave
smooth a liquid mixture that is smooth has no big pieces in it OPP lumpy sin grumos
spicy food that is spicy has a pleasantly strong taste, and gives you a pleasant burning feeling in your mouth SYN hot picante

 

I used a couple of words that might be new for you:

Word in Spanish Definition in Spanish English translation
empalagoso demasiado dulce (no en un buen sentido) overly sweet
paladar gusto con que se percibe el sabor de los alimentos palate
arándano rojo arbusto de la familia de las ericáceas que mide entre 10 y 40 cm de altura, con hojas alternas, aovadas y aserradas, flores solitarias de color blanco verdoso o rosado y frutos en bayas negruzcas o azuladas cranberry
arándano azul blueberry
icónico representativo de la cultura iconic

These are the condiments in Thailand I mentioned in the podcast.

The one on the left corner is known as chilli flakes. Next to it, you can see the white sugar. At the front, fish sauce and chili and vinegar and chili.

condiments

Oh! and of course, the peanuts!

padthai peanuts

Then I asked Chris a question he didn’t understand:

  • ¿A qué crees que se deba eso? ó ¿cuál crees que sea el motivo por el que…? The translation to English is very simple, Why do you think…?

Now you know different words in English and Spanish to describe your favorite sauce!

By the way, what’s your favorite sauce?

Blog, travel tips

Dining in the dark

I should have written this the day after it happened when the textures and flavors were still imprinted on my mind but it’s never too late to tell you about my best culinary experience in Malaysia.

He didn’t tell me where we were going, every time he looked at his phone for directions to guide the taxi driver, he was careful not to show me the name of the restaurant. It was a surprise!

He was anxious, he thought we weren’t going to make it—we had a reservation for 7 o’clock—we were only 5 minutes late, though. Did I mention he’s British? Time is important to him, five minutes late to a Peruvian is “only five minutes late”, to a Brit it’s “OMG we’re already five minutes late!”

We arrived and I walked in without reading the name of the restaurant. I found out what it was called once we were inside, “Dining in the dark”. The place was dark as advertised, “a romantic dinner with dim lights”, I thought. Little did I know…

We were greeted by our host, who explained to us what the procedures were… procedures?

While most restaurants try to overwhelm you with sensory stimulation, this one does the total opposite, it requires you to temporarily lose your sight to be able to explore your other senses.

When you go to a regular restaurant, you know pretty much what your dish is going to taste like by reading the description on the menu and looking at the photos, which help you avoid foods you don’t like.

For example, I don’t like cauliflower, so I wouldn’t order any dishes that have cauliflower in the photos, it makes sense. Why would I order cauliflower if I know I don’t like it? to see if I still don’t like it? After all, however it is cooked, it will still taste like cauliflower, right?

Well, this was no ordinary restaurant, there was no menu, food descriptions, or photos that could warn me against ordering something with cauliflower.

After a test that involved blindfolding us to try to find three paper clips in a bowl of rice, we were introduced to our “darkness expert” and led to a pitch-black room that made it impossible to make out any shapes with the naked eye. Having your eyes open and not being able to see anything triggers your imagination. You wonder what color the tables are, who is sitting next to you, what the foods look like…

IMG_20191106_212720
Before entering the pitch-black room

Akay, our darkness expert, walked us through the procedures for the night and made sure we felt comfortable and ready to explore our sense of taste. He is a great conversationalist—I bet the job requires waiters to have good people skills to help customers reduce anxiety. He told us how a few people don’t make it to the main course and leave the room because they can’t handle the darkness.

He brought the starters, four different foods with different flavors and textures.

The dishes were four little bowls that fit in a tray like a jigsaw puzzle—to avoid accidents I suppose—so it was easy to grab them and create a tactile memory of where they were placed.

Akay told us to start clockwise and, since we weren’t allowed to know the name of the dishes, we labeled them with numbers. The first starter was kind of bland, it tasted like a pastry with a mystery herb I couldn’t recognize. Starter number two was salad-like, I could have sworn I was eating fish with onions and parsley, maybe tuna? Number three tasted like the Peruvian Jalea, fried seafood. Yes, it was seafood, I could taste the crunch of the fried squid and shrimp.

Next, we were served two soups, a cold one and a hot one. The cold one had the distinctive flavor of beetroot, it tasted like an extract my mom would make me drink as a child. It was OK, I guess, but poor beetroot soup was no match for the delicious, hot soup next to it. I’d never had anything more delicious in my life.

– Asparagus?

– No, it tastes like something else, it’s got to be a vegetable…

–  Mushrooms!

The main course blew up my mind. Mashed potatoes with a meat I couldn’t guess, it wasn’t chicken, it wasn’t pork, it definitely wasn’t turkey—it would have been a bit dry. It wasn’t lamb because there was a side dish with the distinctive flavor of lamb and the meat on top of the mashed potatoes didn’t taste anything like it. “Could it be rabbit?”, I thought to myself. The thought of it scared me a little, I probably have no right to feel sorry for rabbits when I eat other animals, but still…I think of the pet rabbit I had when I was a child, all I picture when I think of a rabbit is cute long-eared Daisy having alfalfa :/

Maybe it was goat, I’d had Curry goat once (a famous Jamaican dish) but it was hard to remember the taste of the meat when it came soaked in an overwhelming curry sauce. Maybe the meat was an animal from Malaysia I’d never heard of? I gave up and ate the meat praying to God, “please don’t be rabbit”.

I was already kind of full but there’s always room for dessert so that was next. The desserts kept me guessing for a while, Akay would laugh at our inaccurate guesses every time we told him we had finally guessed what we were eating.

– Akay, we know what this is! It’s lemon ice cream!

– Haha it does taste like lemon, doesn’t it? Sorry, keep guessing.

It tasted like lemon—or vanilla or something white. It’s funny how even though I couldn’t see anything, I was so sure the ice cream was white. Maybe I was biased by the chocolate mousse next to it. Who eats chocolate mousse with dark-looking ice cream? It had to be white.

We left the dark room with a dozen questions about the foods we’d eaten. Our host led us to another table—this one in a well-lit room—and asked questions about our experience. We said we absolutely loved challenging our taste buds and that we couldn’t wait to see whether we were right about our guesses.

She left us with the menu. I carefully opened it and… What???

The first starter was a Mushroom quiche and the mystery herb turned out to be thyme. The second one was Salmon tartare with cucumber, celery and shallots… Wait, no onions? But I tasted onions! No, Ayleen, you did not.

I turned to the next page to see starter number three. What I thought was crunchy fried seafood was actually broccoli! Deep fried broccoli with cheddar fritter. I couldn’t believe what my eyes were reading.

It was time to see the soups. I was right about the first one, it had beetroot, yay! I finally got one right. However, it was the second soup that made me realize I had unfairly labeled a vegetable as “bland and boring”. Cauliflower cream! What! No, it couldn’t be. “You must have that wrong, I don’t like cauliflower and that soup was mouthwatering. These people are teasing me, they’re lying to me.” —I was in denial.

Or… had I been living a lie all my life and cauliflower was actually delicious? I almost felt ashamed of having advertised my hatred to cauliflower all these years. That soup was one of the tastiest I’d had in my entire life. The main ingredient, “cauliflower.”

The meat that came on top of the mashed potatoes was duck!

Time to reveal the desserts. I got the color of the ice cream right, it was white! But my taste buds failed miserably, it turned out to be Olive oil ice cream! But wait, isn’t olive oil, a kind of “oil” that you use for salad dressings? Isn’t ice cream made with fruits or nuts? Not at this restaurant.

This experience helped me realize how we categorize foods unfairly. If you ate something once and didn’t like it, if your parents made you eat it as a child and you didn’t like it, guess what! There’s a chance you could actually like that food. Having tried it once or twice is not enough to ban it from your diet forever. Maybe they were not good at the restaurants where you had them. Let’s be honest, the fact that you didn’t like it as a child only means you didn’t like the way your parents prepared it for you. I adore my mother but boiling the cauliflower did very little in her attempt to make me like it—sorry mom, no hurt feelings.

The chefs at Dining in the dark tease your senses by cooking foods in an unconventional way. For example, not many people like broccoli, so they fry it to give it a crunchy texture and make you believe you’re eating something else, a few people I know don’t consume olive oil because its flavor is too strong, but they would surely have eaten that ice cream!

Giving in your sense of sight can really make you “see” the world in a different way. If you are visiting Malaysia, I highly recommend you visit this restaurant.

Level: B2

Vocabulary

  • Imprinted on my mind (literary) to become fixed in your mind or memory so that you never forget

imprint something on your mind/memory/brain etc

The sight of Joe’s dead body was imprinted on his mind forever.

  • Overwhelm /ˌəʊvəˈwelm $ ˌoʊvər-/ ●○○ verb [transitive]

1 EMOTION if someone is overwhelmed by an emotion, they feel it so strongly that they cannot think clearly

be overwhelmed by something

Harriet was overwhelmed by a feeling of homesickness.

  • procedure /prəˈsiːdʒə-ər/ noun

[countable, uncountable] the official or accepted way of doing something, especially something that is done often

We have hired an accounting firm to evaluate our audit procedures.

  • ˌpitch-ˈblack adjective completely black or dark

The lights were off and it was pitch-black.

  • jigsaw puzzle /ˈdʒɪɡsɔː $ -sɒː/ ●●○ noun [countable]

a picture cut up into many pieces that you try to fit together

  • boil [intransitive, transitive] to cook something in boiling water

a boiled egg

  • mouth-watering adjective, food that is mouth-watering looks or smells extremely good

a mouth-watering aroma coming from the kitchen

 

 

 

B1, B2, Podcast

Back to Thailand – De regreso en Tailandia

Hi English/Spanish Learners! Ayleen here, your teacher from wespeakidiomas.com

Today I want to share my happiness with you. I’m back in Thailand! Yayy!

In this episode Chris and I talk about what we missed the most from this beautiful country. Tune in to practice your listening skills and learn some new vocabulary related to foods and the grammar point of the day-using “although” and “even though”.

Episode 3: Back to Thailand – De regreso en Tailandia

You can learn more about the new vocabulary used in this conversation below:

  • Consecutivos, seguidos: in a row
  • Row: fila
  • Readily available: a tu disposición
  • Watermelon: sandía
  • Mango: mango
  • Guava: guava o guayaba
  • Papaya: papaya
  • Dragon fruit: pitaya
  • Lime: limón o lima

*La traducción depende de tu proveniencia. Si eres de Perú, se va a traducir como limón, lime significa limón. Si eres de Argentina, se va a traducir como lima, lima significa lima. Recuerden la descripción de la fruta, lime hace referencia a la fruta verde, pequeña y más agria. Si esa fruta verde pequeña y agria en tu país se llama lima, entonces lime significa lima. Si a un peruano le dices la palabra lima, va a imaginar una fruta totalmente diferente. Nosotros le llamamos limón, uno de los ingredientes para preparar ceviche es jugo de limón.

  • Aunque: although, even though
  • Servilletas de papel: paper napkins
  • Rubbish: (AmE) Garbage, basura
  • Turquesa: turquoise
  • Dañar: hurt
  • Pebbles: piedritas
Uncategorized

Blogmas Day 18: How to have a Greener Christmas.

I found great ideas for a greener Christmas on this blog. Give it a read!

Write On Ejaleigh!

Recently, we have started to become aware of the harm we are doing to our planet by having so much excess at Christmas. It seems quite interesting that we appear to be returning to the Seventies when people had much less money and yet still seemed to enjoy the Christmas albeit without Secret Santa, Elf on the Shelf, endless gifting and enough food to keep you going until the Spring. I have been listening to quite a few programmes on Radio 4 extolling the virtues of having a greener Christmas. Whilst I am not quite at the stage of wrapping my presents in newspaper and giving used items away as gifts, then I would like to be more mindful of waste during the Festive Season. Here are some ideas that I shall be using and for some I have looked to my own childhood for inspiration. Planning is integral to…

View original post 566 more words

B1, B2, Podcast

Episode 2: Interesting facts on Gili Air – Cosas curiosas en Gili Air

Hi English/Spanish Learners! Ayleen here, your teacher from wespeakidiomas.com

Today Chris and I come to you from Gili Air, and we’ll talk about the interesting facts we found on this Indonesian island.

This conversation features lots new vocabulary for intermediate students, and is a good example of a spontaneous, authentic English-Spanish conversation between two travelers.

Episode 2: Interesting facts in Gili Air – Cosas curiosas en Gili Air

You can learn more about the new vocabulary used in this conversation below:

  • mosque: a building in which Muslims worship / In Spanish: mezquita
  • acera: orilla de la vía pública por donde caminan los peatones /  In English: sidewalk
  • agonizar: be near death. I said Pensé que alguien estaba agonizando…
  • straw: a thin tube of paper or plastic for sucking up liquid from a bottle or a cup / In spanish: cañita, popote, pajilla.
  • malcriar: ceder a los caprichos de alguien. I said Asia nos está malcriando. / In English: Asia is spoiling us.
  • chant: to sing or say a religious song or prayer in a way that involves using only one note or tone / In Spanish: cántico
B1, B2, Podcast

Episode 1: Shopping in Indonesia – Compras en Indonesia

This podcast presents everyday conversations in English and Spanish and is hosted by myself, Ayleen, and Chris, from London. What is different about this podcast is that you will listen to a conversation in both languages, I will be speaking Spanish and Chris, English.

Our content will help you improve your listening skills in the language you are currently studying. This podcast is for you if:
a) You are an English speaker learning Spanish
b) You are a Spanish speaker learning English
c) You have a different native language but are studying English and Spanish.

In this episode Chris and I talk about our impressions on shopping in Indonesia. Tune in to learn about the tactics Indonesian people use when trying to sell an item and how we feel about it.

Episode 1: Shopping in Indonesia – Compras en Indonesia.

Uncategorized

Public transportation in Dubai Vs. Public transportation in Peru

We had one day to explore Dubai before flying to Thailand -Dubai was a one-day stopover- and decided to go to a mall, not too far from the airport. We got on the train a little unsure whether we’d jumped on the right line, so my fiance asks ‘Does this train take you to the mall?’ Everybody looks at him, nobody answers. He asks again, ‘can someone tell me if this is the train to the mall?’ Silence.

They were all staring at him, so they did acknowledge his presence but didn’t respond. After the doors closed behind us, a woman says ‘yes, this line takes you to the mall.’ I was thinking ‘has the cat got their tongues?’ Maybe they just don’t understand any English…

We kept speculating about the reasons why they didn’t respond and were still staring at him. Well, the answer had been in front of our noses the whole time. There was a sign that read “Are you in the right cabin? 100 Dirhms fine.”
It turned out we were in the women and children cabin, where, of course, men are not allowed. According to the sign if a man were found in the wrong cabin, he would have to pay 100 Dirhms (about USD 27). These women were staring at him and looked shocked because he wasn’t supposed to be there, he was an intruder.


Almost immediately after realizing he was in the wrong cabin, the same -and only- woman who gave us information said ‘you are in the wrong cabin, men go over there’, pointing at the adjacent cabin.

Everything made sense. These women must have felt their space was being invaded by an intruder who didn’t know the rules. My fiance went to the men cabin, which does allow women (at last we have more choices than them!)
I wonder why men and women can’t be together, religious reasons? Dubai is a Muslim city, so could it be an Islamic thing?

I don’t know the reasons but I love the fact that cabins are separated. So far Dubai has been the one city where I’ve felt really uncomfortable because of men looking at women as if they were a piece of meat. It would be unfair to generalize -I’m not judging or blaming the entire population in this city- but many men on the streets show this kind of offensive behavior.

This blog compares cultures and for me it hurts to admit that this behavior is comparable to the one observed in my country, Peru, where this occurs mainly because of the fact that Peru is a chauvinistic country whose culture lets men engage in this action and get away with it.

Unfortunately, outrage of modesty and street harassment is something every Peruvian women, teenager and child has to deal with when using public transportation. According to the Peruvian newspaper Perú 21, seven out of ten women have been harassed on public transportation. Nevertheless, the law is still lenient with offenders.

Only after Peruvian actress Magaly Solier was a victim of this outrage of modesty on Metropolitano, did street harassment make it to the headlines and called for a new law to be passed. Unfortunately, according to the Ombudsman’s office, to this date six regional governments and three ministries still haven’t approved the regulations for these cases. Out of 21 cases reported to Regional governments, the Judiciary and the Ministry of Public affairs, only two culprits were punished.

We would feel safer if there were assigned cabins for men and women (I speak for all my female friends and relatives). Now I’m not in my country but would love to see some sort of solution or at least an attempt to tackle this problem in a near future.

Vocabulary

  • Outrage of modesty: a term commonly seen in the papers – for example, where a man gropes a woman inappropriately
  • Dirhm: currency in Dubai

References (material in Spanish)

https://peru21.pe/peru/dos-casos-acoso-sexual-han-sancionado-2016-informe-405963-noticia/

https://busquedas.elperuano.pe/normaslegales/ley-para-prevenir-y-sancionar-el-acoso-sexual-en-espacios-pu-ley-n-30314-1216945-2/

B1, B2, grammar

The passive voice in Spain

Level: Upper basic, intermediate

If you don’t love grammar but love traveling, this lesson is for you. Why? Well, I used to be a student like you and as a student I got bored reading textbook examples that were neither memorable nor related to my life at all; thus, they didn’t stick in my mind and by the next day I’d forgotten everything I’d learned. Today I bring you a lesson based on my trip to Spain. All the examples you will see here are from the notes I took while I was going on walking tours in Barcelona and Granada, so they are all real examples you can relate to if you have been there, plan to visit these cities or are just curious about historic buildings! I hope you like this explanation of “The passive voice”.

City: Barcelona

On my first day in Barcelona I went on a free walking tour where I learned about the old, impressive buildings located downtown, which were ideal to teach a grammar lesson. So pay attention to how the following buildings are described. Do you recognize the grammar being used?

La plaza real or “Royal square”

This square is in the Gothic neighborhood; however, the architecture isn’t Gothic but Neo – classical.
If you take a look at the photo you’ll see Palm trees in the background. A few are originally from the area but most palm trees were imported from California and Florida.

The passive voice – Use

Let’s analyze this sentence:

Most palm trees in the Royal square were imported from California and Florida.

This structure is called “The Passive Voice”. The Passive voice is used when the focus is on the action. It is not important or not known, however, who or what is performing the action.

Do you know who imported the palm trees? No                                                                          Is it important? Not really.

In the example above, the focus is on the fact that the palm trees were imported. I do not know, however, who did it.

Active voice: The Spanish imported palm trees from California and Florida.                Passive voice: Palm trees were imported from California and Florida.

The passive voice – Form

How do you form the passive voice?

the passive voice

When rewriting active sentences in passive voice, note the following:

  • the object of the active sentence becomes the subject of the passive sentence
  • the finite form of the verb is changed (to be+ past participle).
  • the subject of the active sentence becomes the object of the passive sentence (or is dropped)

Regular verbs in the passive voice

Remember that the past participle of regular verbs is the same as the simple past.

regular verbs

La Sagrada Familia

The most amazing building I saw in Barcelona was La Sagrada Familia and the fact that caught my attention is that this church is still being built! When I went there, I saw the construction workers and machinery. It has been 137 years since its construction began and they’re still building it! Being in an old historic city, I expected to see old churches that were started and finished hundreds of years ago but never did I imagine I would see an old church that is still being built.

Renowned Gaudí took over the project one year after its construction began and worked on it until he died. According to my tour guide, this church will be finished in 6 years, so I guess I’m going back to this city once it is finished.

Spanish architect Gaudí

The passive voice in different tenses

Look at the chart and see how the passive voice is used in different tenses.

The passive voice - tenses

You must be thinking “Ayleen, you forgot to include the other verb tenses in the chart. Aren’t there other tenses?” And the answer is “Yes, there are”. However, these are the most common tenses used to describe buildings and constructions, so for now I don’t want to mix you up with more grammar that you won’t need to use in this context. As you can see in the descriptions below, I didn’t really need to use the present perfect or past perfect to talk about these constructions.

City: Granada

Santa Ana church

The Church of Santa Ana in Granada was built in 1501 in place of the mosque of Almanzra. This means that Santa Ana Church is located where an ancient mosque once stood. Unlike other Christian churches, this one is made of bricks. It was designed by renowned local architect Diego de Siloe. The church was constructed according to the architect’s specifications. De Siloe wanted to create a heavily decorated, spectacular building which combined elements of Arabic architecture with Christian imagery, that’s what makes this church so unique. An example of Arabic influence in this church is the ceiling. It is made of carved wood. Carved wood in ceilings is representative of the Moorish craftsmen.

The passive voice when you mention the “doer”

Let’s analyze these sentences:

Santa Ana church was designed by renowned local architect Diego de Siloe.

In this sentence we mention the doer of the action, the person who designed the church. If you want to mention the doer, use “by”. Don’t use “for”.

Active voice: Architect Diego de Siloe designed Santa Ana church.

Santa Ana church was designed by renowned local architect Diego de Siloe. (correct)

Santa Ana church was designed for renowned local architect Diego de Siloe (incorrect)

Cathedral of Granada

It is known as the Catedral de Granada, or Santa Iglesia Catedral Metropolitana de la Encarnación de Granada in Spanish. This church was built after acquisition of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada from its Muslim rulers in 1492.This cathedral was built over 181 years between 1523 and 1704. The first collapsed after an earthquake so they didn’t even start the second one, unfortunately, the second tower wasn’t finished. In its place there is a smaller tower, which is called Tower of San Miguel.

In the first and second examples the verbs are irregular, that means they don’t end in “-ed”. To form the passive sentences with these verbs you just have to memorize the verbs.

Irregular verbs in the passive voice

Base form Simple past Past participle
make made made
know knew known
build built built

The Alcaicería Market

Alcaicería is a name which was used all over Moorish Spain and parts of the Middle East. Granada the city with the biggest Arabic influence in Spain and this market is important because it was one of few Moorish traditions to survive the Christian conquest.

In the past this place was bursting with stalls, Arabic silks, spices and other precious goods were sold here. Nowadays the place is half the size it used to be but it is still a rich area with history and local culture, still packed with interesting, exotic things to buy.

Warning: Take care when walking around this area; it is popular with pickpockets and local gitanas (gypsy women) offering to tell your future or read your palm, for a price. I was stopped by a gitana who tried to give me a sort of plant “for free”, but I’d already heard about them and what they do is first give you something “for free”, next take your hand, read your palm, tell you your future and then ask for money.

Asking questions in the passive voice

What was sold in the market?                                                                                                  Arabic silks, spices and other precious goods were sold here.

What name is used to name this kind of markets?                                                       Alcaiceria was used to name this kind of markets.

To watch a short clip of my visit to La Sagrada Familia, click here.

Uncategorized

I discovered this interesting fact in Barcelona…

Today I found out that La Barceloneta beach, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Barcelona is, in fact, man-made. The fact that it’s not a natural beach doesn’t make it less beautiful, though. Locals and tourists go there to sunbathe, play beach volleyball, go for a swim , go bike riding, roller-skating or just people-watch. You can also go there for lunch or dinner, there are countless restaurants that offer fish and seafood dishes and of course, the popular Tapas.

When I asked my tour guide about the history of this beach, she said the sand was imported from arab countries and that the area used to be full of rudimentary houses and factories. It was the Olympic games in 1992 what triggered development in this area. In an attempt to increase the city’s popularity with tourists, the Spanish government took up the challenge of turning Barcelona into a must-visit touristic destination in Spain by dramatically transforming it into a beach town that offered a laid-back lifestyle to complement the already bohemian Barcelona.

As advertised, I enjoyed a nice walk and the most delicious Paella in one of the many restaurants along the beach.

img-20190921-wa0005-1
Eating Paella at a local restaurant by La Barceloneta

Now, this isn’t a travel blog but an English learning blog which uses my travel experiences to explain vocabulary and grammar, so let’s go over the definition of the new word introduced in this story. As you read in the first sentence, La Barceloneta is “man-made.”

This word has two definitions, the first refers to the materials or substances that are not natural. For example I like cotton because it’s natural, I don’t like man-made fabrics.

The second definition refers to something made by people rather than by natural processes. For example The Barceloneta is a man-made beach. We can also say the beach is “artificial”, that would be a synonym.

This interesting fact reminded me of another man-made feature in my country. For instance, Oasis Huacachina in Perú had once a natural lagoon but it started to sink due to underwater consumption, today we can say that the lagoon is man-made. Well,  it’s “almost entirely” man-made since at least 70% of the water is pumped into the lagoon regularly to keep it from drying up.

What are some man-made features in your country?

If you are interested in learning English with real examples taken from my trips around the world, join me on social media. I am on Instagram and Facebook as @wespeakonline.english and on Twitter as @wespeak_online

To watch this lesson on Instagram in video format please click here

 

Uncategorized

Jamaican me happy: Ochi

It was our seventh day in Jamaica. We had traveled to the north coast of the country to visit Ocho Rios, another very popular tourist destination, when we were told there was going to be a carnival. The said carnival, however, wasn’t the typical people-dressed up-dancing-on-floats carnival, but rather a crowded concert mostly attended by locals, half of whom – regardless of the minimum age for admittance – were in their teens.

There was one, and only one police officer at the entrance door to make sure no underage kid entered the concert. He seemed to be doing a good job. I was there when a couple of teenagers were sent back home after failing to show their IDs. So, it came as a big surprise when I bumped into drunk teens staggering through the crowd during the concert. How? If the police officer had been there. I saw him… I didn’t get it! This behavior reminded me of my country, where people are very good at finding creative ways to break the law. They’d found a lower part of the fence, very suitable for jumping over if you are agile enough. At least, the police weren’t bribed as I had initially believed. It turns out the underage kids had snuck in!

Fashion

Something that caught my attention during the concert was the non-glamorous footwear trend/movement called “tourist sandals” Jamaicans seem to be following. When this trend first came out, I remember thinking: Does this mean I don’t have to make an effort anymore? Should I just wear my laundry day outfit to parties? Who would wear such a thing? Well, to my amazement, many people would.

If you want to know more about this fashion, click here.

Twerking

Not only did this eccentric trend being followed catch my attention, but also the dancing did. I had been told about the Jamaican twerk. I had seen videos, I had heard about Twerk Fest Jamaica, I had discussed it with my fiancé, who had more information about it since he’s half Jamaican, but it was still shocking to watch young teenagers twerking at the concert.

I am trying – so far unsuccessfully – to see this with objective eyes. Maybe my conservative upbringing is preventing me from seeing this as part of a cultural expression, but I have mixed feelings about twerking. I agree and disagree on twerking depending on how it is done. For example, seeing these girls twerk on their own – to my eyes – shows a talent, or just women enjoying themselves and their bodies without men present. However, seeing them twerk with a guy behind them changes the panorama completely. It’s pretty much porn with clothes. How can you not see a woman as an object when having her twerk in front of you like that? All you see is her butt; I mean, unless she turns around a little, you won’t get the chance to see her face (or unless a man is “dancing” lying on the floor on top of her with blender-like movements from the waist down). What’s the real purpose of twerking? Is it really the rhythm of the music that is being enjoyed? I find it very hard to believe that twerking doesn’t sexually objectify women although I defend twerking (on your own) as a display of enjoyment.

 

Route taxis

Many countries have this transportation system where taxis run a specific route for a set price, picking passengers up and dropping them off along the way. I’ve never used this kind of transportation in Peru, where route taxis are called colectivos; nonetheless, as many other things I don’t and wouldn’t do in my country, I decided to give it a try. I don’t know why, but getting around Jamaica in route taxis just felt right.

In Peru, colectivos are illegal. Even though taxi drivers offer this service to meet the high demand of unsatisfied commuters, there isn’t any sort of license to offer this service legally. There are informal colectivo stops, where lines of ten plus taxi drivers take up one entire lane to wait for passengers causing unbearable traffic.  They charge between 4 and 6 soles (around US$ 1.5). In Jamaica, they are legal and can be distinguished by their red plates. In Negril, Ocho Rios, and Montego Bay we paid between 120 and 140 JMD Jamaican dollars for a ride (around US$ 1.00).

Important tip!

Because chartered taxis also have red plates, the only way to distinguish a chartered taxi from a route taxi is by asking the driver for the price, and this is a must! If you don’t ask for the price, the driver might purposefully not pick up any passengers along the way and say that, because he didn’t do so – and you did not specify you required a route taxi – the fare will be 5 times higher. Thus, you could end up paying US$ 10.00 for a ride that would have cost US$ 1.00 with a route taxi.

I have to be honest and admit that, at first, I thought they would be unsafe. The only reference I had was the route taxis in my country where I’d heard of people getting robbed or even worse, so I was skeptical. However, the rides in Jamaica were safe, and I got the chance to experience commuting like the locals do, not to mention the fact that we saved a lot of money on transportation. Had we ridden only chartered taxis, we would have spent at least 5 times as much.

In spite of not having had any negative experience, I frankly wouldn’t have jumped in a route taxi if I had been traveling solo. I would recommend it for people traveling in pairs or groups. It makes sense to think it would lower the risk in case something bad were to happen.