I must confess, when I first got here, I cheated. I cheated for a whole year. You see, greeting is really important. How are you? How did you sleep? How is your health? How is yesterday’s fatigue? How is your house? How is your wife? A normal interaction has about 6 of these exchanges. My friends know that I don’t have family here, so they ask about my dog.
Here’s the cheat: all of these questions can be answered with the same phrase, which literally means "it is sweet." So, even though most of the time I didn’t know what people were saying, I would just answer "it is sweet," and they’d go on and on about how well I knew their language. Lately, though, I’ve been trying to understand more, and give the right answers.
The other day I was sitting with a friend, and a guy who’d been drinking a little too much of the local beer came up and greeted me. It was hot, so I stopped trying to understand and just kept saying how sweet everything was. But, since he was a bit tipsy, when that was the wrong answer, he let me know! He repeated himself 3 times, then someone else told me that he had said "Give me something." I happened to have a piece of candy in my pocket, which I promptly gave him. Everybody cracked up. It was sweet.