Adventurers who take the time to understand the native language have an advantage from the start. Most of our Peruvian tour guests do tend to know a little Spanish.
They can say “please” (por favor), “thank you” (gracias), and “good morning” (buenos dias). Some know a lot more, and most also know how to ask for where the bathroom is, (¿Dónde está el baño?), whether hiking, riding, or choosing any other type of adventure in Peru, including deep sea fishing in Northern Peru.
The experience is even sweeter if you take a deeper dive into the language. You’ll have opportunity to use Spanish phrases when you go out your own or in small groups, during free moments on the tour. Guests often take unscheduled but rewarding jaunts to local restaurants, shops, or other attractions along the way. Those who do take the time find you don’t have to know many words to truly sweeten your experience of the people of Peru.
1. Learn simple phrases that show respect
Using the phrases of polite society in your hosts’ native language shows respect. Whether in conversation with a man or woman on the street, or ordering food at an out-of-the-way restaurant, you’ll find the experience sweetened if you the time to use easy words that add to the basic “gracias” and “buenos dias” you are likely to already know.
Let’s look at two different ways you can say “Pleased to meet you.” (The second is the more formal greeting.):
“Encantado de conocerte.”
Pronunciation: En-kan-tatho day ko-no-sare-tay
Other words and phrases will be handy, and you’ll pick many up if you engage at all with the people. Here are a few more to work with:
- Hello…. Hola (oh-la);
- You’re welcome ….Dé nada.(Day nada);
- Excuse me…. Con permíso. (Kon per-me-so);
- Sorry….Perdon (Per-don);
- Good night…..Buenas noches. (Bwe-nas no-ches).
2.Learn longer phrases to use in conversation
This is very basic advice when it comes to diving into the language. But since we’ve started, let’s look a bit further into what you might say after “excuse me,” or “hello,” especially if you want to continue the conversation. Although you may feel a bit awkward at first, the effort is likely to make communication easier overall.
Try a longer phrase: “Hello. Pleased to meet you. My name is ____. Can you answer a question?”
Here it is in Spanish: “Hola, mucho gusto.Me llamo es (say your name).¿Puedes responder a una pregunta?”
3. Keep Practicing
The encouraging word is that practice does improve your Spanish. Practice while in conversation, so you have to think on your feet, is the best way of all to learn any language. Use what you know (and what you pick up) in restaurants, when shopping, or when out dancing to a local band.
In the meantime, be prepared for those times when the language fails you. Even when you think you know the right word or phrase, you can get tongue-tied by doubt. When that happens, just go with the flow, and find someone who can speak English well. (Or who can speak it well enough to help guide you to what you need).
Ask if they speak English: “¿Habla inglés?”(A-bla een-gles?)
Let them know you don’t speak Spanish: “No hablo Español.”(No a-blo es-pan-yol.)
4. Bring an extra language guide
No matter how good you get at learning these basic phrases, it’s not enough Spanish to fully sweeten this adventure.
Yes, you will be traveling with a tour and have a well-founded expectation that our guides understand and speak English. They will answer questions about where you are, where you have been, and how you will get to your next Peruvian destination.
Still, your journey may not be complete unless you do some exploring on your own, and meet and talk with the Peruvian people. For that, you’ll need to know or have access to much more of the Spanish language than we’ve addressed here.
If you don’t want to learn conversational Spanish before your trip, you have options:
Purchase a small, pocket guide. Several different publishers have easy-to-pack guides to Latin American Spanish. One example is the “Fast talk Latin American Spanish” pocket guide by Lonely Planet. It is compact, only 95 small pages, and written in large, bold type.
Download an app. Free apps are available for your smartphone, whether you use an IPhone or android system. Just check the store. These apps cleanly translate most phrases you give them through a visual on-screen and verbal response.
5. When in doubt, smile
The last and possibly most important advice is to give the language a try, be patient with yourself, and smile. You’ll feel awkward at times, and simple words you know you know will just vanish from your brain, but that is normal. Be gentle with yourself and brave at the same time. Your efforts at reaching out to the people you come in contact with will truly sweeten your experience traveling to Peru.
Would you like to experience the wonder and language of Peru? Reach out to one of our staff to discuss travel or book a trip!