Saturday, November 7, 2009

No Entiendo.

No Entiendo – the Spanish word we’ve used the most since we arrived in Gijon at 12:30pm yesterday! Can you guess what it means? ‘I don’t understand’ lol. Needless to say, communicating with the people here has been somewhat challenging and a little frustrating!

We are staying with our friends, Marcos & Adriana. We met them through when they stayed with us in Adelaide about the same time last year. They are absolutely adorable people and we had such a connection the first time we met them. Keeping in touch has been effortless and it is now a really nice feeling to be with good friends in such a foreign place here in Gijon. It’s a bonus that they speak English! ;-)

We had about a 2 and a half hour drive from Bilbao (where the ferry docked) to Gijon. It was our first time driving on the right hand side of the road and we couldn’t read a word on any of the street signs. All we could think was ‘shit too bad if we’re breaking the law’ lol

With Marcos and Adriana both working in the afternoon, we decided to have a wander around the city and maybe have some lunch. Spaniards’ lunch time is traditionally 2-4pm, so we waited until then to find somewhere to eat. The only problem was ,that it took us about 10 minutes to read every menu that looked remotely in our price range and it was DRAINING!! You could imagine the locals amusement seeing two foreigners standing outside a restaurant with their phrasebooks trying to translate the menu! Especially in a town where foreigners are basically non-existent! At that point we said to each other – hmmmm, maybe we should have spent more time studying our phrasebook before coming to Spain. We finally found a place to eat and we decided to order from the Menu Del Dia which in Spain, is a 2-3 course set lunch menu for a very good price (generally). We recognised Paella on the menu and thought ‘yes, our first Paella in the land of Paella’….so we went in and asked the waiter “Habla Ingles?” (Do you speak English) only to hear “No”. ‘Shit, ok here goes’….the waiter said something but we had no idea what, so of course we responded “No Entiendo”. We managed to ask for the Menu Del Dia and then were told “No”. What the hell did he mean? Could we not have anything from that menu? Obviously not, but we didn’t know why at first, then worked out that it was just before 4pm, so they had sold out or were just not serving that menu as lunch was almost over. So after our experience there, we went to a supermarket where reading the labels was also a bit impossible, but we recognised a few words/items mostly in the confectionery/biscuit range which didn’t really help with our need for lunch. We resorted to buying some tomatoes and cheese and had this on top of cruskits which we had bought with us from the UK.

That evening we went out with Marcos and Adri to a traditional Spanish cyder bar where the barman pours the cyder from over his head into the glass held at waist height (entertaining). Then we moved onto a wine bar where we sampled some fine Spanish wine and tapas. The experience of both places was good, but the food/cyder nothing to rave about. It was also very strange to be in bars where every second person smokes. I think we forgot how disgusting it is to eat/drink around smokers!

After leaving the last bar, I think it was then that it really hit me – ‘we are a veeeery long way from home’. I actually started to tear up and felt quite overwhelmed about being here. I guess what I was experiencing was culture shock. Not only could we not communicate with anyone in our own language, but not being able to read signs, menus or food labels was a bit much for one day For me anyway (keeping in mind that this is my very first visit to a non-English speaking country). It would be interesting to know what your first experience was like – leave your comments after this post. I know it will get easier as time goes on and soon I will be thinking what the hell was I getting myself so worked up over!! (As you do in hindsight with a little bit more experience under your belt)

I think Tim probably felt a bit better about it all – here is what he has to say…….

Tim: Its been an interesting experience so far. I haven’t really been overwhelmed with the culture shock here. I think I got over that when I was in Bali in the year 2000 where I had trouble getting over the filthy, smelly environment and the poor communication with the locals. What does make it harder being here than most other touristy places is that hardly anyone speaks English… at all. When you are travelling to well known places, you take refuge in the fact that there is likely to be other tourists who speak English, but not here. We are very thankful to have Marcos and Adri speak to us in English!

So…funnily enough, today we went back to the same restaurant for a second go at ordering from the Menu Del Dia but we weren’t that hungry, so we decided to just order for one and share. That was until we heard from the waiter a resounding ‘no’ when we asked to ‘compartir’ (share). He then rattled off something else in Spanish and we responded with our well practiced word – ‘No Entiendo’. The waiter just threw his hands in the air! ahhh! We worked out, that he was trying to tell us that we needed to order two servings if we wanted to eat there, but it was 12 Euros a head and we weren’t very hungry. So, a little sheepishly, we said “Lo siento” (sorry) and left the restaurant. We ended up having cruskits again for lunch! Lol At least we can say we tried! And I guess we will keep trying. J

Tonight we are eating dinner at Marcos’ restaurant where he is the head chef and he has already planned a menu for us (what a treat!!)… so it will be a nice little break from trying to decipher Spanish menus! For a little while anyway ;-)


De said...

Ahhh the joys of travelling hey! All sounds glamorous but far from it sometimes.
So you had a wonderful meal at the restaurant (so FB tells me), I suggest you just keep eating there! ha ha!
Enjoy yourselves's great reading your blog.
Stay safe,

gwen Pittaway said...

would be frustrating guys, trying to read the menu, also not being able to chat to people, when you two are real people persons. keep practicing your spanish LOL x o x o

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