“Hijole” is a colloquial expression in Mexico, often associated to some amusing situation. We used to hear Hijoles a lot when we lived here almost three years ago.
But Hijole doesn’t seem to be spoken anymore … at least on this side of the country.
¿Que paso con el Hijole?
Mexico first happened in our lives in the middle of 2008, when a career opportunity took me literally all the way across the globe from Singapore, where we were living then, on to Mexico City.
It was quite sudden, as most unplanned things happen to be, and for a while our lives were turned upside down (or, rather, right-side up). For some time, our headcount of four was thinly scattered between Singapore, India and Mexico and it took over 5 months for us to finally settle at our new home in Mexico, together with the two cats and our faithful nanny.
Paulo was just under 5 and Raquel had recently turned 3 when they moved in to what would be their Seventh Home, in the Fourth Country and the Third language they’d been living in since birth.
Based on the experience in Singapore, where we lived for just 2 years, we thought the same would happen in Mexico. It didn’t, and we lived here for almost 4 full years before moving on again. Because of that, Mexico ended up playing a key role on who we are and do today.
Here, Paulo and Raquel turned from babies into kids and, to date, Mexico is still (and likely to remain for a while) the country where Paulo and Raquel have spent the largest percentage time of their lives yet. Both Adriana and I had important turning points in our careers here.
We made dear friends, enjoyed the rich culture and cuisine. It was also here, at the end of a tequila-heavy afternoon, that we decided to buy Pesto (I promise I will post about this story some day).
The journey wasn’t aways smooth, but the highlights compensated for the bumps along the way, and when we sailed across the US-MX border three years later, we were all glad to be back.
One of the aspects I embraced enthusiastically right upon moving into Mexico back in 2008 was the language. It often comes as a surprise to some, but the mother language in Brazil is Portuguese (NOT “Brazilian”, and much less so Spanish). Moreover, even though they share the same roots, Portuguese and Spanish are still distinct languages.
Spanish always sounded as a beautiful, musical language to me, and I took the opportunity to fully learn it in Mexico wholeheartedly. For the first months here, I took lots of classes, read books, watched movies, wrote emails, and did not allow friends and colleagues to speak to me in English – I immersed fully into Spanish (I am still grateful and sorry for those around me who had to cope with my broken Spanish during this process).
Anyway, the fact is that after some time, I was already (finally?) speaking decent Spanish – despite the accent and the odd Portuguese word slipped in by mistake here and there.
As I grew comfortable with the language, I started venturing into the more colloquial forms of it, and I still remember the rush after I first used Hijole successfully (there had been a few failed attempts before, but I never gave up).
Anyway, when we sailed in here earlier this year, I was eager to put my Spanish to use again. It was deceptively rusty at first, and even to date I realize my accent is still stronger than it was before I left Mexico in 2012. It is nevertheless functional, and I can make myself understood successfully most of the time.
However, every time I squeeze in a little Hijole, it is met with a mute reaction, and some times even with a “¿Que?” (“What?”). The likely reason is that there are small regional variances of local slang, and Hijole simply doesn’t belong in the vernacular in Sonora.
And there’s some evidence to that. For instance, another expression which I liked a lot back in Mexico City was “Padre”, the equivalent to “Cool” in English and “Da Hora” in Portuguese (if that is still spoken in Brazil). Here in Sonora, the expression is “Suave”.
Often people will come down the dock and tell us Pesto is Suave. In Mexico City she would be called Padre, the same way people told us she was a Cool Yacht back in the US.
What is not Suave is that Hijole is not spoken here in Sonora. I love the way it sounds, and quite often it comes associated with some amusing situation.
Maybe I will have to pay a quick visit to Mexico City before we sail away to new seas and new grounds within the following months.