Let me make myself clear, clair, claro…I do not speak Spanish. I grew up speaking French with my mother and English with my father. My friends in England would probably insist that I don’t speak English, rather I speak American. No matter I do not speak Spanish.
I took a half year of Spanish in high school because I was graduating early and needed 4 years of a foreign language for a college prep diploma so to round things out I added a half year of Spanish to the three and a half years of French I would have. Years later in college I studied in France for six months and a group of us found out we could take classes at the local university so we bravely went over and signed up for Spanish.
When I travel to a foreign country I gamely try to learn a few key phrases in the language so I don’t seem like the type of person that expects everyone to cater to my needs and speak English. I try to go beyond just asking where the toilet is and wine please. In Spanish I even learned how to ask for “more” wine please 🍷🍷😉
All of this is to say that I managed to do two difficult things yesterday. First of all I made my way to a “farmacia” (pharmacy) and bought a small tube of toothpaste that was for adults and not kids. Secondly I was able to navigate a Spanish website to buy train tickets (think “Expedia” in Spanish for trains). The latter took considerably more time as my keyboard cannot read my facial expressions or gestures, and doesn’t care if I look like I’m going to cry if I can’t get to Bilbao for two nights. And yet here I am writing to you from aboard a train that costs me about $25 for a round trip ticket, three hours each way.
I really want to encourage you that with a little patience, some hand gestures, pointing, and a hefty sprinkling of gracias (thank you) and por favor (please) you can manage to get along without knowing the language. In fact I’ve found that most people are yearning to practice their English with you or even to give you a little Spanish lesson to up your skills.
It is truly a beautiful thing to be able to communicate with another person.