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Me Grumpy!

A beautiful palapa beckons. Roman asses. Bad Spanish.

Learning another language is always an adventure. Not being able to communicate clearly can be quite frustrating, but the rewards of sticking with the native language are great. One gets to speak with people with whom you would not normally speak and overall people are quite touched that you have at least tried to learn their language. In Campeche we had an hour long conversation with a tough looking no-neck guy who was the owner of a private security firm. In Villahermosa we talked with an aerial photography team – about their work, their lives, and how one hails taxis in town (it was counter-intuitive).

The mischievous beginner can use his imperfect understanding for humorous purposes. During an evening out with our Italian teacher and an acquaintance from Rome, where the gentleman, having had entirely too much to drink, blathered on and on about the greatness of Rome to the point of tedium. I saw my chance when he used the expression that Rome was the cradle (la culla) of western civilization – I restated his statement but substituted the similar sounding “il culo” (meaning ass, rump, bum) for the word for cradle. “I know that Rome is (il culo) of western civilization, but there are many other great cities in Italy”, was the phrase I used. An innocent beginner mistake :)


Is it possible to have a bad time in such a pretty spot?

The location was stunning – next to a turquoise blue ocean and simply constructed palapas. We prepared ourselves for an amazing seafood experience, but alas it was not to be. The smug waiter was entirely too full of conceit and needed taking down. Here is a transcript of the postprandial conversation:

What I said/heard What I intended/understood
Mesero: ¿Como te gusta? How did you like your food?
Yo: Se puede decir… ¿Uniformamente horribile? Can one say… Uniformly horrible?
Mesero: ¿Como? What!
Yo: El pulpo era muy salato. ¡Era tanto salato che es como comer una bolsita de sal! The Octopus was very salty. So salty that it was like eating a bag of salt!
Mesero: ¿Porque no me indica? Yo te revuelvo… Why didn’t you tell me? I would have taken it back
Yo: Las camarones gustan de medicina. ¡Me sento in una farmacia! The shrimp tasted like medicine. I felt like I was in a pharmacy!
Mesero: Disculpe… Sorry…
Yo: No es todo. Las tortillas gustan de jabon. ¿Sabes che es jabon? ¡La cosa che se usa para limpiar el piel! That’s not all. The tortillas tasted like soap. Do you know what soap is? It is that which you use to clean the skin!
Mesero: Lo siento… I’m sorry…

7 Responses to “Hablo Itañol, me può ayudar?”

  1. Vinay says:

    Good job man! Your espanol is pretty cool aready to handle such block and tackle! Congratulations!

  2. Katherine says:

    As I said to you in IM, you are under no conditions allowed to put a puss on when sitting next to such stunning beauty… 😉

  3. Fred says:

    Dios mio! La comida es todo.

  4. Bill says:

    Ah, to learn a 2nd language enough to verbally assault your wait staff. That is my dream…

  5. Shreesh says:

    Heh heh, my assault weapon may be crude but it sure was effective. I really wanted to have a good time next to the sea but it is so difficult when you are presented with horrid food and equally bad service.

    At least if he had been nice it would not have required my verbal volley. I am usually not the kind of person who has a quick comeback, I always think “Dang! I wish I had said…” but sometimes I can surprise!

  6. barbara says:

    Mar. 28 Shreesh, your conversation with the waiter makes you sound just a teeny bit unkind! But I do admire your Spanish. And the photographs………thanks a million for those. And the narrative is so interesting. I was able to get the map link last week but today Windows says it “does not recognize the file type”. What the heck does that mean? Barbara

  7. Shreesh says:

    Barbara –

    The most likely problem with the link is that Google Earth is either not installed on your computer or is corrupt…

    I tested the link on our computers and it works…

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