An English speaker’s perspective

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Monte means mount or mountain…most of the time. It can also mean woods, brush or weeds. The second meaning is most common where we live. Since there are no rises much above a few feet in the Yucatán Peninsula, people just use the word to refer to brush or weeds.

My first encounter with the word was when I was walking down the street and decided to engage an old shopkeeper in conversation. We sat outside his shop drinking a Coke as he told me the story of the way the city has grown. He said that he could remember where we were sitting was all monte back in the good old days. He said they came and cleaned out the monte and used the rocks from the area to build the houses. Wanting to clarify I asked him if they blasted the monte to get the rocks. He said there was some blasting, but mostly they just carried the rocks off from where there had been monte.

It was several months before I finally understood my conversation with the shopkeeper. I thought he was referring to a mountain when he meant brush and weeds. I even told other people that the reason it was so flat in this area is because the old man told me that they blasted the mountains to build the houses. How embarrassing!


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