|Our Ayacucho Selfie - Enjoying the glorious sight of blue skies and mountains|
We attended church on our first Sunday here in Ayacucho. My Spanish is limited, to say the least. My comprehension is even more limited. But the members in the Ward (congregation) we attended were so very friendly and warm and welcoming. Missionaries were waiting to help me find the Sunday School class after Sacrament Meeting, but I was caught in a phalanx of women who all wanted to greet me.
In Perú women greet each other with a light embrace and an air kiss to the cheek. It's lovely. I was meeting all these women, one after the other, and each one would murmur "que linda" as she greeted me.
Well. I was pretty sure that linda meant "pretty" or "cute." So I was feeling pretty good about things in general!
(As Sally Field would say, "You like me! You really like me!")
These women, for the most part, were tall in spirit, while being short in stature. Especially the Quechua Mamitas; the ones you always see in the pictures of Perú with the braids and the hats. So I bent down and greeted each of them in turn with a hug and a kiss and they would softly murmur "que linda," and I would feel better and better and better.
Then I got to the last women in the group, and as I bent to greet her, instead of "que linda," she said assuredly, "QUE GRANDE!"
I didn't need to guess what that meant. But - I had received about 15 "que lindas" to 1 "que grande," and we take our victories where we can, right?
Later on we were in another part of the mission for missionary interviews. Boyd went into the chapel ahead of me, so I entered on my own. I passed a room that had three people in it, and they all came out to meet me. There was a man and two women, and they were working on the Self-Sufficiency Program (helping people train for jobs, interview for jobs, find jobs, and keep jobs). They were gracious and kind, and when the man met me he said, "que bonita."
Ha! By this time I had confirmed with the assistants (subtly, of course, because I didn't want to be braggy), that "linda" means "cute." I knew that "bonita" was a little stronger than that. I walked out of the room on Cloud Nine.
In time I learned that saying "que linda," or "que bonita" is simply a pleasant greeting. And not actually a declaration of opinion.
I can't be too disappointed, though, right? Because what a lovely way to greet someone you have just met, by telling them they are cute, pretty, or lovely...
And I have three more years to enjoy it.