Those of you who have perused my previous postings, such as 'mind your picas and allegros’, will realise that yours truly only speaks “un poco Espanol” and can easily enter into language barrier-related scrapes.
For example, last week, I was wondering whether I could be bothered to exchange the empty butane gas bottle rattling around in my van for a full bottle from the garage – a task that would involve dragging the heavy replacement down the concrete slope to my house. This is hardly my favourite task, as parking can prove difficult and a crushed toe would be likely if the bottle slipped. Fortuitously, I ran into our old gas bottle man (i.e. the hombre who used to swap the neighbourhood’s gas bottles for new ones every Monday) outside my next door neighbour’s house, and he was brandishing a nice, shiny, silver bottle with convenient orange carry handles. He has changed allegiance: he previously worked for Repsol (Spanish gas supplier), the office of which recently closed in Lanjaron, and he has now defected to Cepsa in Durcal. He showed me the silver gas bottle and how light it was to carry in comparison to the old-style orange ones. Well, Einstein here was suitably impressed – I made lots of “ooohing” noises and repeatedly muttered “no mucho peso” while swinging the bottle with an inane grin – and then I quickly agreed to sign a new contract with Cepsa for my bottles. This task required translation from a friend on his mobile phone. I had only a sketchy idea whether the helpful hombre was saying I could have silver bottles, orange bottles, four bottles, five bottles this week or next - but soon, the issue had been resolved. It was only when he left that it dawned on me... of course the silver bottle was light to carry: the darn thing was empty. The orange ones are light when empty too. And the full silver one left in my hallway was (you’ve guessed it) a bit on the heavy side. Sigh. But at least it means that Cepsa Man is obliged to carry them down the slope: let him improve his muscles lugging multiples of 14 kilos about while I watch from the front door.
Feeling a little bit sheepish over my bottle brouhaha, I ventured into Coviran (equivalent of a UK Spar shop but with somewhat less stock) to buy some ice pops for the kids, as well as ham and a baguette for my lunch. With reasonable justification, the employees think I’m a comedy act and, this time, they accosted me upon entry. One of the female assistants – a friendly type in her 30s – suggested that I might like to go out with the shy male assistant, who is in his late 20s and tends to deliberately ignore me if he sees me outside the store. She enthused that he could help me improve my Spanish (possibly a thankless task). Well, I wasn’t sure how to respond as I simply wanted to source the ice pops and move on to the other items. As I don’t know the Spanish word for this type of “helado”, I started miming “long and thin”. Oh dear! I could immediately see how this was getting ‘lost in translation’. My suggested “novio” (boyfriend) started sniggering, so I said “no pasa nada” (don’t worry about it) and headed to the aisle hosting wet wipes and detergent and round the corner to the till. Ah but I still wanted a baguette! I asked the young chap for “una baguette” (which is possibly incorrect anyway: my translation tool says it’s “una barrita de pan”) and he returned brandishing a hard-baked, long, thin bread stick with a significant bend towards one end. Thinking that, before I ate it for lunch, I might take a photo of this rather amusing item as an exhibit for this blog (sadly I forgot), I wandered home... before realising my baguette was inedible because it was stale. Hmm. I’m not sure about the Coviran guy’s chat-up technique: a thin, bent stick isn’t going to impress me any day, and the fact that it couldn’t even host my ‘afternoon delight’s’ worth of ham was hardly inspiring. The food of love is definitely not stale ‘pan’.
The next time I ventured into Coviran, the staff were avid for gossip about my child-free night in Orgiva, in which “mucho vino” had been consumed (this made it necessary to prop myself up with the meat counter). I wanted to buy some more jamon Serrano but found I was being quizzed about the English predilection for “fucky fucky” (sic) and our favoured modes of contraception instead. I went scuttling out of the store brandishing my hangover, the ham, a baguette that had been vetted for edibility and the thought that I really am turning into the store’s tri-weekly episode of ‘Shameless in the Sierra’ – better than reality TV and possibly slightly more tasteful than those who choose to ‘chunder on the costa’... but only just.
“Las personas inglesas locas” would make a good title for a local documentary / reality TV series, I feel. But perhaps I’ll put that proposition on to the back burner for a time when my Spanish has improved.