Mike and I just returned from a grocery store and we had a neat encounter at the tortilleria (the stand that sells fresh tortillas.)
Mike was ordering tortillas de harina and a woman standing at the stand began motioning to the tortilla clerk. I’m not sure what she was saying, but I thought she might be reading Mike’s lips and possibly using sign language to clarify Mike’s request with the clerk. (Years ago I studied American Sign Language [ASL] and I eventually received an AAS degree in sign language interpreting – although I never actually worked as an interpreter.)
Over the years in the States I would see people using ASL all the time, but I would not attempt to use my rusty ASL unless it was absolutely necessary. And in Mexico City I saw many people signing, but I did not attempt to talk with them. That said, I don’t know what made me do it, but in my best ASL I asked the woman if she knew sign language. Her eyes lit up – but bear in mind that ASL and LSM are different languages, although some signs appear to be universal.
Somehow, some way using ASL, LSM, Spanish (the clerk seemed to know both LSM & Spanish), and English we had a conversation! The woman explained that she had lost her hearing from some sickness while she was pregnant, but that her daughter can hear and she helps her mom by interpreting Spanish into LSM - most hearing kids of deaf parents are bilingual. I told her that Mike and I had moved to Guaymas… Mike got involved in the conversation and she told us that she works in a factory nearby. We thanked them for their help and said goodbye.
I walked out of that store thinking that I CAN live in Mexico and communicate. Maybe in Spanish, maybe in English and I guess maybe in ASL/LSM.
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