In a classic 1980s hit, the Men at Work pose the eternal question, “Do you speak[a] my language?”
And though, yes, I have a proven ability to communicate with Australians, I rarely [read: basically, never] speak to Catalans in Catalan. It’s like offering to wear shoes with laces when velcro straps will do just fine.
Yet, on the island, things are different. Islands are, in a word, insular, which means outsiders are given a leery-eye. When two cruise ships drop of hundreds of sunburnt Brits, who proceed to squawk about the city center knick-knack shopping and licking dripping ice-cream cones, anyone who speaks English is given an extra leery eye. (And since everyone assumes I’m inglesa and not americana…)
Earlier this week, I saw my golden opportunity. The central market was full of Brits who had conveniently decided to shop at the same time as me. I was setting myself up for subpar treatment, so I had to think fast. Waiting for the majority of the guiris to step away from the market stall, when the owner-lady-farmer-extraordinnaire asked me a question, I replied, “Com?”, what? “Oh,” she replied, “I thought you were a foreigner.” Inhibitions aside, I answered in Catalan, “Well, I am a foreigner. I’m American. But, I speak a little Catalan.”
And SHEE-YIT. If she wasn’t so pleased with me…She packed up my veggies with extra oomph. She kept talking and asked me where Oklahoma and Colorado were. She said good-bye to me no less than 3 or 4 times as I gathered my things to walk away. And, I got this bounty for 3,80€!
That’s: 1 eggplant, 4 Roma tomatoes, 1 salad tomato, 5 baby ‘nanners, 3 apples, 1 green pepper, 2 onions, 3 carrots….
(To give you an idea, the day before, I got 1 pear, 1 apple, 1 plum, and 1 banana for 2,50€)
Thinking that my newfound trick might help me, I proceeded into the shoe store, conveniently right across from the fruit stand and was able to nab a deal- 50% off a classic Spanish shoe, the pisamierda- The ShitStomper. Leather shoes for 20€? Siusplau! (Please!)
Though I lack confidence speaking Catalan, I’m sure if I harkened back to my first days in Valencia, I’d remember how unsettling and artificial it felt to ask how much? and I’m looking for…but, I did.
(And, for your viewing pleasure, some sheep at sunset near R.’s new house. ¡bAaAaH!)