I have a dilemma, I’ve been here a few weeks now and my Spanish is still at an extremely basic level.
Yet I need food and I want to avoid the supermarket routine, as I could be doing that anywhere! Spain has so many options for fresh food that it does seem a crime to go into a Spanish supermarket and buy Heinz baked beans. Not resorted to that yet though.
Yes I’ve been to the local markets and can point and say ”quiero esto’, ‘this one’, or when I’m feeling adventurous ‘ dos cientos cincuento grammas’ which is 250 grams. Had to cut that back a bit as I was buying far too much stuff so I use ‘un poco’, for a little or a better one is just to show them a 1 euro or 2 euro coin and I get just a small amount. (A tip learned from Sara’s Mum). The markets here though are so set up for the English that the response and price always come back to you in your own language, or show you the till print out of the price!
I’m grateful for the help but I do also want to learn.
I go into the local shops, the baker who asks if I want my bread ‘cortar’ I had no idea what she meant till I saw the hand signals. My local greengrocer who when ever I ask for ‘quiero esto cien grammas’ responds with the Spanish name of the vegetable I’m pointing at. She has tried many times to help me pronounce lechuga or lettuce and I’m a lost case on that one. Then there is the butcher, I always loved going into the local butchers in West Kirby with their quick banter and helpful ideas, here I stand in the shop and try to wait till everyone leaves before I approach the counter. The butcher has got wise to this and now points and calls me forward with a stern ‘Madam!’. It’s embarrassing as I point and stumble over my words, yet he is patient and kind and always offers to let me taste the jamon or queso before I buy, Now I’ve learned how to ask for strong or mild cheese…fuerte/suave.
Can I remember all these words, No. I have to carry a book around with me and memorise just before I go in the shop and hope he doesn’t ask me other questions, as he did the other week. ‘Did I want my cheese slicing or in a block’. No I didn’t understand but putting the cheese on the cutting tray soon got me saying no…..
Then the other way to get a meal is to go into a restaurant on my own and order food from a waiter who will know Spanish, English, Norwegian, French, Italian and probably Russian. The waiter will have made up their mind that I am English before I even choose a seat and will present me with a menu open at my pages. The embarrassment here is sitting on my own to eat. No one to sit and relax with over the food. To chat with as to how the day has gone, to share a joke with or laugh with. People say you should just people watch, it sometimes works to watch them. Sometimes it feels more like I’m being watched for being on my own.
The dilemma is, which way is best.
embarrassment in the shops or in the restaurant?
We all have times when we struggle to do something and we would not be human if sometimes we doubted our own abilities, questioned them, wondered about our motivation. We have to often go through the embarrassment to get to something better.
To do all of those things can help us to be stronger. Having my book and preparing before I go into a shop is the same as studying for an exam, or getting ready for an interview or even a first date!
Putting myself into embarrassing situations, which is just my perception of the situation, has shown me I can cope with challenges, that I can learn new skills. We all learn each and every day and yet sometimes you don’t stop and appreciate what you have learned or how your life has moved on. I’m learning a lot about gratitude.
Being on my own is hard, tough and yet a blessing as I appreciate all the good friends I have, the people I have a history with and marvel at those I have yet to meet.
I put this out in my last blog and I’ve been watching it each day and I think the messages are getting through.