I am in Barcelona with mi novio. Please note my restraint in not using all capital letters and lots of exclamation points for that sentence. Travel is one of my greatest joys and being in Europe brings a sense of satisfaction to my spirit. I get to see things I have heard about it, read about and dreamt about.
Today we took in two master works by renowned architect Antonio Gaudi: La Sagrada Famiglia and Parc Guell. It is astounding how the vision of one man has shaped an entire city. If you are going to Barcelona, those who have come before you will insist that you take in these sights and they are absolutely right!
But the sights aren’t what keep me yearning to see the World. Travel can take you outside your comfort zone and force you into new experiences. I love that. One of the highlights of my day was trying to make a lunch reservation by phone for a local Tapas bar recommended to us on last night’s food tour.
I don’t speak Spanish. Given my family heritage I really should, but that is a whole other blog post. I know some words and phrases but, having been spoiled by the ubiquity of English around the World, I was a slacker about practicing before our trip. My first two times to Europe I really did try to learn the native language. I made up cheat sheets and got CDs from the library. I was determined to try! But in the moment found myself very shy about speaking. I still tried but would inevitably be rescued by the clerk, taxi driver, waiter who spoke English and wanted to move the conversation along.
Today, on the phone, I got no such rescue. I lead with “Habla usted Ingles?” and got a firm no. So I plowed ahead with my choppy, disjointed Spanish and managed to communicate my desire to make a reservation. She prompted me with questions that I delightfully understood. I was doing great until she asked for my phone number. Even though I know my Spanish numbers, the idea of trying to spit out 8 of them and explain that it was an American cell phone was just too much. So I tried to give her our hotel name instead but that was a mess. Then I tried to pretend she was confirming the number of people so I said “dos personas?” because, well because I know those words. At this point she laughed at me and asked me my name. Luisa! That one I know! And with that the reservation was made.
Even when speaking your own language it can be challenging to communicate. You know what you want to say but don’t quite know how to say it. Sometimes you just need to use your words. Even, or maybe especially, when it is hard to do so. You can be unsure and imperfect but, as long as you are intending to communicate sincerely, it will be worth the struggle.
It was definitely worth it today to get to eat at Bar Mundial. My sweetie and I got to practice our words (and our ability to point at things on the menu) while enjoying delicious tapas in an authentic environment HERE IN SPAIN!!!