I had a pleasant surprise this morning while waiting for the Copper Mountain bus to go skiing. A man who I had noticed earlier taking the iconic Main Street with mountains in the background photo of Friso, approached me and said “buenos dias,” followed quickly by a “good morning.” I responded with a “buenos dias,” which brought on a conversation about the beautiful sunny day, the mountains, the blue sky and the fact that they don’t have snow in D.F., Mexico (Mexico City). His wife then came over and he asked me if he could take my photo. I thought perhaps I had misunderstood the Spanish and offered to take his photo with his wife. No, he assured me, he wanted a photo of me to show people back home, because it would be something they maybe had never seen before. It took me a minute before realizing that it wasn’t just the snowy mountains he wanted in the photo. He wanted an accessorized skier, from helmeted/goggled head to booted feet holding skis and pole to be the subject of his photo. The mountains and blue sky were just the background. I was happy to oblige and as he and his wife were walking away, I called them back and asked if I could take their photo.
While on my ride to Copper, I realized what it was that had felt so odd to me while conversing in Spanish with this man. I was speaking Spanish in a coat and mittens. My Spanish has always flowed from sandaled or bare feet, and never while wearing a coat. This was a first. How limited my experiences had been! I miss speaking Spanish. I miss the wonderful feeling of throwing words together that you THINK are right, while trusting instinct on conjugations, then receiving a positive nod from the person you just rattled off to along with an answer because they understood you! Every sentence seems to get better at that point. I also had to wonder what in the world brought them all the way from Mexico City to this little town of Frisco, CO. Just looking at their photo makes me smile for some reason.
My quick Spanish conversation before headed off to ski, gave me the boost in my confidence that would later be tested. Over and over and over again. I spent the next six hours in a private ski lesson, which had me rethinking almost everything I was doing to the point that I questioned even turning at all, parallel or not. Tiger, my teacher, and yes, that’s his real name and he’s not in his 20’s, or 30’s or even 40’s, is a very smart man who uses a lot of physics analogies to explain to me what my skis and I are supposed to be doing, so instead of shouting commands that I’d understand like “lean forward, push your right foot down to go left, use your edges, you are amazing…” I heard things like “centripedal force, edge angles, calculations of side cuts, mass to the inside of your turning radius and pulling g’s… have you ever been in a small plane???”
OK, now we’re talking. I said had I not only been in a small airplane, but I used to fly them! Bad choice to give that information to Tiger. From then on, all future explanations were made as if we were both sitting in the cockpit of an airplane, Tiger, clearly sitting left seat. Although he wasn’t a pilot, he had logged enough left seat time in small planes with friends that he clearly knew what he was talking about and his comparisons to skiing did make sense… for a while… and then they didn’t. At one point, towards the end of our 6 hour lesson, while in the lift line, he started in on the flying an airplane to skiing comparisons and asked me if I understood. Now for those who know me, you know when my patience is gone and I’m tired, things go south quickly. I paused a few seconds then said, “Yes, Tiger, I do understand that, but I’m not in an airplane. I’m on skis and I’m tired. Did I mention what a good instructor he is? He smiled, shook his head yes and we got on the lift and headed up the mountain for a nothin’ but a fun run. And it was. It’s always good to end the day on a fun run that even if it was only in your head, you knew you looked good and were carving out those turns like a pro.