When I was in Brazil, I frequently was “stuck sitting in the front seat of cabs”:http://juniorbird.com/archives/001535.html. For some strange reason, even though the cabs were tiny, even though all of them had some major instrument out of service (speedometer, fuel, or, in one case a functional-but-not-useful generic turn indicator that flashed a two-headed arrow whenever the driver signalled), even though the cabs were all driven at a high rate of speed, even though the cabs followed too close, didn’t attend to the lanes painted on the road, and even though the cabs just blew through red lights after dark, I never was particularly scared. And, yes, I took the cabs before I got drinking too. But, today, taking a cab from the Mexico City airport to “my hotel”:http://www.caminoreal.com/. I was scared out of my gourd. Clutching the hanging front-seat seatbelt for dear life. Staring at my feet so that I didn’t have to look out the window at my onrushing doom.
I have no idea why I took it so bad. The driver was only doing 100 (km/h), the traffic wasn’t bad, he wasn’t driving crazy, I just felt unsafe. So I started to think about how I might say “hey, can you slow down?” in Spanish. This was hard because, try as I might, my Spanish just hasn’t been working today — while the flight attendant on the airplane spoke to me in Spanish, everyone else marked me for English straight away. I didn’t think that, after only a few weeks away from Chile, my newfound Spanish comfort level would have disappeared already. But it had; I couldn’t even remember “slower”.
Then, rushing around a soft curve at a high rate of speed, it came to me: “lentamente”. And then I decided to think of meaner things to say — and, best of all I could think of the words! Out of my fear apparently came some ability to speak Spanish again. Thanks, cab driver!
Of course, I’m still not at 100%. The guy who brought my room service asked me “todo bien?” and I responded “sim, muito bem.” Perhaps tomorrow we’ll discover how far I can get in Mexico City while speaking extremely poor Portuguese.