Meet Rosa, the Mexican Mayan Manicurist

29 Jun

June 11, 2011

Spanish lesson of the day: the word for “trite” or “cliche” is trillado.
As much as I hate to do this, I’m going to be una poca trillada and say this: every day legitimately is a great adventure, and even the things that might seem mundane or ordinary are…well, not.
Take getting my nails done the other day. Manicures are a pretty common occurrence for a subset of the female population, I’d venture to say, and I think the stereotype of the esthetician as a super chatty, gossipy little lady is, though perhaps trillado, very true.
My friend and I went to this little salon in between our classes. It was around 10:15, and the sign outside the door said the salon was open from 10-4 daily. It was attached to a house, so we knocked on the door of the salon and rang the doorbell, but no one answered.
We waited a few minutes, a bit confused, and knocked again. A very flustered, petite Latina opened the door, and started apologizing to us profusely in rapid Spanish, saying that we had just woken her up, and begging us to give her a minute.
She ran off and we sat down on the couches, flipping through magazines. She reappeared a minute later, looking slightly less disheveled, and we told her we wanted manis/pedis (since both was around 130 pesos- not even $15 USD).
I sat down and she started going to work on my nails, working carefully and thoroughly on each nail, all the while chatting away, asking the requisite q’s: names/hometowns/why we are in Merida, etc.
I’ve gotten so good at responding to those preguntas trilladas that I fool Spanish speakers into thinking that I can actually speak Spanish, and then when they ask me a question with substance, they learn that my speaking abilities are probably on par with a kindergardener in remedial coloring classes.
That’s what happened with Rosa Maria, the manicurist. Somehow, she started telling me about the rampant racism in Mexico against Mayans, and how it was a terrible problem for her family. Every sentence ended in a conspiratorial whisper, head nod, and short burst of high-pitched giggles.
“Your president? Who is he? Oh yes…” voice lowers, “He’s black isn’t he?” head nod, “Do you like him because he’s black?” cue the giggles.
The two hours I spent in the nail salon was probably the best real-life Spanish practice I’ve had in the entire 2 1/2 weeks I’ve been here. Rosa Maria didn’t slow down for us, or try and dumb too much down, like our host moms sometimes do.
She told us a morbid story about a drug dealer in Merida who slit his girlfriend’s throat for some reason (I think because she wouldn’t have sex with him, but I didn’t quite follow everything).
She asked us what bad words in English were, and told us about her 5 children and abusive ex-husband.
I imagine if I actually knew anybody in Merida, she would have a lot to say about them.
“Oh yes, So-and-So…do you know her?” lowers voice, “Apparently her mother’s aunt’s cousin’s fiance is leaving her,” head nod, “For another man!” cue the giggles.
I didn’t have time that day to get a pedicure…I can’t wait to pay Rosa Maria another visit and hear the latest news about the local delinquent youth, the dangers of not wearing sunscreen, and get her opinion on the best places here to buy high heels.



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