One free afternoon during a 3-Week Lead Adventures program, my friend and I went on a bike ride.  It was a pretty strenuous one, with 1.5 hours of uphill riding from Puerto Ayora to Bellavista and a little further, on Santa Cruz Island.  I pedaled, breathed, and sweat pretty intensely riding uphill, and was reveling  in the downhill slopes on the way back.  We stopped to take pictures at this sign, because it showed that we were close to town!
Puerto Ayora Sign
The kitten was behind this sign.
The view down to the coast from here was beautiful, so my friend and I hung out here for a while.  We admired the view and felt proud of the bike ride we were about to complete.  Then I saw it - something moving.  I thought it was an iguana at first, because there are so many iguanas in the Galapagos, but...we weren't near the water.  And it didn't look like an iguana.  I approached it and it was a baby kitten!!!

The conversation went something like this:          
Me: Oh my goodness!  Why is it here by itself?  It's a baby.  
Friend: Wow, someone must have abandoned it.  
Me: Oohhh, I guess we're not meant to touch anything in the Galapagos.  And it might have some infectious disesae.  But, but...we can't just leave it, it's a baby...
Friend: Well, cats aren't endemic to the Galapagos, so it's probably fine to touch.  It's also unlikely that it has an infectious disease.  The question is what are you going to do with it?  You can't bring it back to Quito, let alone to America...
Me: Ohhh, well...maybe we should bring it into town?  There should be more food in town, just from like, the garbage or something.
Friend: Well, then it'd become a stray cat that preys on endemic Galapagos species, unless someone took it in.  You'd have to find someone.  Once you touch it, you assume responsibility for it.  
I realized my friend was probably right.  I didn't want to leave the kitten, but I had absolutely no plan for it, seeing that I was leaving the island in two days.  After 10 minutes of standing on the side of the road and staring at the kitten, it was starting to get cold, the sun was setting, so I finally said: "Well if there's nothing we can do, we'd better go."  However, I could not shake the feeling that I was abandoning a kitten, and I think my friend noticed I was upset.  He said: "Well if you want, we can see if Judy wants a kitten."  Judy is our hostel owner, at La Casa de Judy.  I doubted she'd want a kitten some random Lead Adventures volunteers found, but perhaps she'd know someone or something.  
Galapagos iguana
This is an iguana. The kitten was not this thing.
Upon returning to our hostel, I first had to talk to Judy about this day trip she was helping us plan, for a free day during our Lead Adventures program.  It was happening soon so I needed to get it out of the way, which I did in English.  I had studied Spanish in high school 8 years ago, so I hadn't really been able to use it on this trip.  However, when I started talking about the kitten, my Spanish words just flowed...
"Cuando estamos en la bicicleta, hay un gato muy pequeño!!  No madre gato!!  Si nadie le ayude, va a morir!!"
Reading this now, it makes me laugh...

Cuando estamos en la bicicleta...
When we were riding bikes...
So it's been a while since I've taken Spanish, but I feel like this is not grammatically correct.  Estamos means "we were," yet I said "la bicicleta," which is singular.  I suppose we could have been on a tandem bike, but I think this phrase translates as "when we were on the bike" instead of "when we were riding bikes."  Oh well.  

...hay un gato muy pequeño!!!
...there was a very small cat!!!
Well I don't know how to say "kitten" or "baby cat," so I settled for "a very small cat."  I got my point across.

No madre gato!!!
No mother cat!!!
I don't know the Spanish word for "abandoned."  So I said there was no mother cat near the small cat.  You make do with what you can.

Si nadie la ayude, va a morir!!!
If no one helps it, it will die!!!

Okay, this was a bit over-dramatic.  I didn't know how else to express why I was worried.  I didn't have the vocabulary for something reasonable like: "It looks like it's a baby kitten that can't fend for itself."  I'm also not entirely sure my pronouns are correct in the above sentence.  Also, looking back now, I think it's supposed to be se va a morir, because I believe morirse, which means "to die," is a reflexive verb.  
And thus my wonderful hostel owners - Judy as well as her husband who was there - tried to calm my fears.  I heard: "No es problema porque los gatos son"...and then some word that sounded like salvadores.  I figured it meant "survivor," but Google Translate shows that it means "savior," and the word for "survivor" is sobreviviente.  Oh well, it shall remain a mystery, but I could tell she was saying that the cat would be fine.

Then some more Spanish sentences and I recognized the word huevos.  Eggs.  Cats prey on the eggs of indigenous species, like all the indigenous birds in the Galapagos.  Cats are unwanted predators in the Galapagos Islands.  

Then a sentence I fully understood: No te preocupes.  Don't worry.  It's no TE preocupes, because preocuparse is a reflexive verb.  I suddenly remembered having a lesson on Spanish reflexive verbs in 8th grade, my first year of Spanish, nearly 13 years ago.  

At some point, the conversation shifted to the day trip again.  I remember nothing about this conversation, but my friend informed me that I continued it in Spanish.  If he is correct, I am very proud of doing so, but I honestly have no memory of what I said about our day trip.  

Two days later:

Santa Fe Island Galapagos
On a speedboat to Santa Fe Island, the day trip I was planning while wailing about the kitten.
So that day trip I was talking to Judy about...it ended up getting planned, amidst all the kitten drama.  We were going for a half-day snorkeling trip of Santa Fe Island, and Judy and her husband drove us to the tour agency.  I was still thinking about the cat and wanted to express my feelings, even looked up the word for "still" on Google Translate:  Todavía.  I exclaimed: "Todavía estoy pensando en el gato!"  I'm still thinking about the cat!  Judy laughed and asked me: Estás triste?  Triste!  That means sad!  I had been wanting to say I was sad, but couldn't think of the word.  However, the moment she said it, I recognized it!  It must have been hidden in my memory from Spanish 1.  I then proceeded to converse, in Spanish, about where exactly we had seen the cat.  Este camino, a la Bellavista.   "This street, towards Bellavista," I said slowly, while pointing out the road.  

Also, I have a small coin purse, on a keychain, in the shape of a kitten.  I bought it in Malacca, Malaysia, from a shop in the style of Hello Kitty, and I thought the kitten we saw looked just like it.  Como este, I explained, unsure if it was supposed to be esto or este.  Judy asked me where I got it from and I tried to reply in Spanish.  I knew the verb for "to buy" was comprar, but I could not remember how to conjugate it.  I started by saying comprí, which was wrong, so Judy corrected it to compré.  Oh right...verbs ending in -ar and -er and -ir are conjugated differently in Spanish!  I had learned this 13 years ago in Spanish 1 class!  

Conclusion

In summary, this is how the kitten helped me relearn some Spanish:
  1. Reminded me of what reflexive verbs are in Spanish.
  2. Reminded me of a basic concept on verb conjugation in Spanish
  3. Brought out some Spanish vocabulary that had been hidden in the back of my memory
  4. Provided a starting point for me to relearn Spanish pronouns.  

Conclusion: Cute kittens can help people learn Spanish.
Hector
9/9/2013 03:53:48 am

Nice adventure. You did great in your spanish conversations.

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12/10/2016 12:38:08 am

good

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5/13/2017 11:48:42 am

Sounds like this bike trip was a great fun for you. I wish I could join you.

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