Raised as a monolingual child, I encountered a wall of unintelligible words when, upon graduation from high school, I traveled south of the border with a Mexican-American friend. I stopped each day at a tiny grocery where all of the owner’s attempts at friendly conversation proved fruitless. To my unschooled ears, “Hace mucho calor” translated erroneously as “You have such a nice tan,” and I always thanked her effusively for the compliment.

Three decades, two continents and one university degree later, I know that when the grocery store lady said “Hace mucho calor,” she meant “Isn’t it hot out?” No wonder she thought I was nuts. Not only did I fry my young skin for hours under the tropical sun, I thanked her daily for the heat and humidity.

Having subsequently lived in Honduras, Spain, Ecuador and Mexico, I now understand not only the language but the cultures of Latin America. I received a BA in Spanish Language in Literature from San Diego State University and specialize in Spanish-to-English editing, translation and interpretation.


Jane Onstott
San Diego, California

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