Why Americans Should Learn to Speak Spanish

Like most Americans, I can only speak English, Klingon and a smattering of Dothraki.  Once every three years I’ll put a good two weeks into learning Spanish. When I do, I’m all in: I’ll buy language programs and watch Telenovela and stuff jalapenos like a squirrel packing its cheeks for the winter, but it doesn’t stick. I never get farther than asking where I can find a library (the equivalent of asking where to find a Blockbuster ) or practicing on the dog, to whom everything sounds like a foreign language except “bone,” “car” and “walk” so he’s never impressed when I suddenly spout  “el perro grande quiero jugar pelota?”

But every day, it becomes more imperative that we, as Americans, learn to speak Spanish. I can give you three great reasons why.

Well, Mike's brother didn't like him much, but the local dogs did.

Well, Mike’s brother didn’t like him much, but the local dogs did.


While on vacation in Cancun, and after six or seven margaritas, my husband, Mike, and his brother, Gary, started a pushing match on our way back to our suite. Put two grown brothers in any drinking situation and soon one will be screaming some variation of “Mom! He’s touching me!”  Just swap out “mom” with the name of the wife. Men pretty much do this with everything.

Mike and Gary took turns performing high-speed face-plants into the hallway walls, until we entered the room, when the tomfoolery escalated into a brawl that would have made the guy from Roadhouse happy. (The name… is Dalton.) Grappling to the ground, the two rolled around and bumped into the kitchenette table, which had been artfully pre-set for us. All four glasses fell on their side and rolled toward the edge of the table like suicidal bridge jumpers. My sister-in-law, Heather, and I dove in slow-motion, Matrix-like, in vain attempts to stop the glasses from crashing to the ground.

I’m sure the sound of Heather and I drunkenly laugh-screaming, combined with shattering glass and repeated body blows sounded like a murder in progress. I am sure of this, because moments later, security arrived.

I opened the door while Heather pulled her husband off of mine.

“It’s ok,” I told the angry gentlemen at the door. I pointed toward Mike and Gary. “Las hermanas!” I assured them. “Las hermanas!”

This did nothing to put security at ease, because I had just pointed to the husbands and explained that they were “sisters.”

Thanks to my broken Spanish, we all could have ended up in jail. And I can only imagine how angry the husbands would have been as the Policia shoved them into a cell with other angry, drunken men and announced that “the sisters” had arrived.

Health Concerns & Noise Pollution

Every year, millions of Mexicans go deaf thanks to American’s inability to speak Spanish.*  If you don’t believe this statistic, simply ask my Bother-in-Law** to ask for directions to the boat.

Gary: Hey, guy, do you know where the boat is?

Random Mexican: Que?

Gary: (pointing in various directions at once) Do you know where the boat is?

RM: No… No.. No comprende…

Gary: (making a cradle with one hand and bobbing it up and down like he’s cupping a horse’s balls) I said boat? Boat? Do you know where the boat is?

RM: (Shrugging and shaking his head… a trickle of blood spilling from one ear)

Gary: (holding his hands above his head in the shape of a sail or the “A” in “YMCA”) BOAT?? Do You Know Where The BOAT Is? 

RM: (holding his head, collapses to ground.)



Kidnapping has become a big problem in Mexico, and during our trip, we came face to face with this scourge.

We flew AirTran from Maryland to Mexico. When leaving, we asked the cabbie to take us to the AirTran gate.

He took us to what looked like the back side of a Target.

Anxious to go home, we tried to ignore the signs and began removing our luggage. A tumbleweed rolled past us. We realized it could be quite a hike to the gate.

Worried that I would tell the cabbie we were professional llama dancers in search of a good colonoscopy, my sister-in-law decided to take control of the situation.

To her credit, Heather always screams everything, so it wasn’t the language barrier that caused her volume to increase with every question.

Heather: Is this AirTran?

Cabbie: (pointing to the Target back entrance) Airplane.

Heather: Yes, but we need AirTran. Is this AirTran?

Cabbie: Air… Air?

Heather: AirTran.

Cabbie: AirCanada?

Heather: YES!

Mike, Gary and I stopped putting our luggage back in the trunk and whipped our heads towards Heather collectively screaming “NO!”

Heather held up a hand to silence us. The look on her face said she had everything under control.

“Yes, AirCanada,” Heather said, pausing to smile smugly back at us. She turned back to the cabbie, grinning, and screamed:

“Only NOT Canada!”


And that is why we now all live in Toronto.

It’s lovely, really.


* I made up this statistic, but it is probably correct.

** Bother-in-Law is NOT a misspelling.


buybuttonYou know who else goes to Mexico? Anne Bonny, the lead in my new novel Angeli: The Pirate, the Angel & the Irishman!

How’s that for a segue?

What is Angeli? A super-fun (<— seriously, that is the best way to describe it) adventure featuring a nearly immortal female pirate, a goofy and sexy Irishman, and a powerful, mystical guardian angel (who also happens to be hot, imagine that…) who all must work together to fight a new threat to mankind.  

Chock full of wit and action, Angeli is the summer page-turner you NEED on the beach this year (or wherever you people from Kansas hang out in the summer, I’m sure it is lovely as well.)

Click on the graphic to buy it from Amazon or…

Read More About Angeli | Buy an Autographed Copy and/or fun Angeli Tees! | Read the First Chapter | Read a bunch of great quotes


Amy Vansant
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