We think conversation is one of the most fun parts of language learning. On Thursdays, we switch languages and ask each other questions to learn more about Tuesday’s topic. Today, Roberto interviews Jessica about her trip to New Orleans and beaches in the United States. You can read Jessica’s original post about Dauphin Island in Spanish here.
Roberto: Did you visit the mouth of the Mississippi River?
Jessica: In a sense, yes. I did not see it exactly where it meets the gulf, but New Orleans is the last city, about 100 miles north of where the river runs into the gulf. The planning and management of the waterways in this area is really interesting. In the middle of the century, the river started to change course toward the west and away from the city, so engineers intervened to maintain the Port of New Orleans. And of course, flooding is a major concern. One evening of our trip, we took the ferry across the river to Algiers and walked along the other side, looking back at the city. It was a nice walk at sunset, but it was also interesting to see all of the barges and tugboats moving through that channel.
R: Did you try some food from the Gulf during your stay in New Orleans or Dauphin Island?
J: Yes, I had a number dishes with local seafood. One of their specialties is blackened redfish, which I had on my last visit. On our last night this time, I ordered the catch of the day, which was a simple preparation of white gulf fish with vegetables. My favorite thing I had was shrimp and grits, which is a New Orleans classic, and this particular iteration of it was delicious. My husband and I split it and I regretted that we didn’t each have our own.
R: What are the biggest differences between the East and West coasts?
J: The climate on the coasts is very different. The Pacific Coast is a mediterranean climate, which is more regular year round than the inland temperature. The East Coast, particularly in the north has warm summers and cold winters, until you get down to Florida, which is tropical. The thing I always noticed going there was the water temperature. My family used to vacation in North Carolina in the summer and the water was always warm and great for swimming because the currents come up from the gulf. The Pacific Ocean along the US is very cold. When we went in Oregon and California, we would sometimes take a quick dip, but it was not usually comfortable to stay in long. There are also portions of the coast that are more dangerous. There are some beautiful beaches in Washington, Oregon, and California, though. Many of them have cliffs or long beaches that are great for exploring.
R: In some inland Spanish cities there are artificial beaches, is there any like that in your country?
J: I don’t think so, aside from wave pools at water parks. I think the Great Lakes check a lot of the boxes of being at the ocean: the sand, the long horizon where you can’t see land on the other side, the currents, and the depth. The Great Lakes contain about a fifth of the world’s freshwater and four fifths of the freshwater in the United States, so they really are huge lakes. They are all connected by large waterways and are used for shipping and fishing, so you see large boats that you wouldn’t on the smaller lakes in the country.
R: Have you ever been to an American tropical island like Hawaii or the Bahamas?
J: I have been to the Big Island of Hawaii a couple of times. My most recent visit was November of last year to visit my in-laws. We stayed for about 9 days and visited the beach every day, so we saw maybe five different beaches. There was one beach that we went to three different times and it was so different each day. On one day, we were able to swim through the coral reefs and snorkel. On a different day, the waves were several feet high and people were surfing them. My mother in law said that the beach disappears completely during some parts of the year. The part of the Island where we stayed was more arid and less tropical than the other Hawaiian Islands, so I would like to go back and explore more of the tropical rainforests.