Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Debacle in Diplomatic Relations

I talked to these guys this morning, and it didn't go very well. Even more upsetting? There was no dancing and nary a hint of singing. Honestly, I kind of hoped there would be.

Naomi decided that she needed to go somewhere sunny in celebration of her 30th birthday; since I am always in favor of celebraciones de cumpleaƱos en el sol...the planning for Puerto Rico began rather quickly.

One of the places where we decided to stay is a small Mom & Pop guesthouse in a quiet town on the southern most part of the island. I had the dubious honor of giving them a call this morning as there was no online reservation page. I've got to admit, the phone call could have gone better.

I try not to be the ugly American who expects the world to speak to me in my mother tongue. I geared myself up for what could possibly be a rough conversation and gave ol' Puerto Rico a ring. Heck, I minored in Spanish for heaven's sake. How poorly could it go? Funny thing, I'm still not convinced that what I heard on the other end of the line was Spanish...or anything like unto it.

There was a litany of noise and some sounds that were vaguely recognizable. Then from me there was stammering, panic, and then I just hung up. No words. No apologies. I choked. I froze. I just hung up. After my diplomatic belly flop, I went to a friend who is a Spanish speaker, and had her call and make reservations for me.

Later that day it occurred to me that it would probably be a good idea to have confirmation in writing about our reservation. Thus, my humiliation en EspaƱol continued. I drafted up a few of my best guesses as to how I should ask about a confirmation and sent them to the Spanish teacher at my school. I explained my predicament and asked her which sounded the least stupid. She made me feel much better. Apparently, Puerto Rican Spanish is pretty hard to understand. Turns out they speak unbelievably quickly, drop various consonants from their words and pronounce their R's like L's. They are the fast talking Asians of the Spanish speaking world.

This could prove an interesting trip for me and my gringo Spanish.

¡Aye Carumba!

1 comment:

J&J Priest said...

hehe, lucky traveler!