Spain—Day 8: Victories and Defeats

My spanish is approaching the point where it could almost be called ‘broken spanish’. Right now it’s more ‘broken spanglish’. Baby steps. For today I thought I’d detail some of my victories and defeats in Spain. Small victories (pequeño), but victories nonetheless.

I got back to my apartment last night on foot and in a cab (I walked partway, then caught a cab eventually) successfully. Considering I was a little drunk and had NO CLUE where I was (and I didn’t bring my map), this was a small victory. Even made small talk with the cab driver. Victory.

I was able to buy razor blades and shaving cream from la farmacia, even though I still don’t know the words for either of those items en español. Victory.

I explained the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement to my brasilian roommate, who loves the NBA (and the Knicks, go figure). This happened en inglés, but I’m still counting it. Victory.

I ordered a sandwich, and when the server asked me, “¿Para llevar?” I knew what she meant. It means, “Would you like this to go?” We haven’t talked about that in class, so I picked it up somewhere. Victory!

When I went into la farmacia, I said to the worker, “¿Quiero comprar el razores?” Now, this takes some explanation. I’m trying to ask if I could buy razors. I didn’t know the word for ‘razors’ en español, so I guessed. It’s actually ‘maquinilla de afeitar’, so I wasn’t even close. Also, the fake word ‘razores’ is plural, so I used the wrong article (‘el’ instead of ‘los’). But I also pantomimed shaving while asking, and she understood. That’s not the victory. The victory is that I used the verb ‘comprar’ (to buy).

Now, this isn’t that great of an achievement—I have about ten pages of handwritten spanish words, and ‘comprar’ is an exceedingly common and useful word. However, when I was reviewing my vocabulary this morning, I noticed that it’s not a word we’ve gone over yet. WHERE DID IT COME FROM? I picked it up somewhere, without even realizing. VICTORY.

So, small victories, but victories nonetheless.

It’s not all sunshine and kittens, though. I STILL am unable to purchase apples from the supermarket. I’m not even joking. I’ve tried twice, and when buying multiple items everything goes without a hitch until we get to the apples. They ask me questions (and since the question is never, “Do you like apples?” I can’t answer it), and I try to haltingly explain that I want to buy the apples from them and then eat them later, or something along those lines, and after about a minute of us both getting frustrated, they take away the apples, I pay, and then I do the sad Charlie Brown walk out of the store, sin las manzanas. I am understanding more of the words they give for not being able to sell me apples, though. Victory/defeat?

Español para hoy:
¡ESPAÑA, ME ENCANTAS LAS MANZANAS! Yo quiero comprar manzanas en la supermercado, pero no puedo. ¡Que lastima!
Translation: SPAIN, I LOVE APPLES! I want to buy them at the supermarket, but I cannot. This makes me sad.

postscript—I am able to buy apples at fruit stands. It’s just at the supermarket they won’t sell them to me.

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