The last time we went to IKEA (Monday of last week, I think), we had a delightful taxi driver named Paco who talked with us the entire time. He had a great sense of humor and about 12 cups of coffee worth of energy. He was originally from Pamplona in the north of Spain. The Spanish he spoke was Castellano, which is the Spanish of my Rosetta Stone language program, and the Spanish of formal business and education. Jerry and I found Paco extremely easy to understand. We were able to have a very good conversation and Jerry followed quite a bit of it without my needing to translate it all.
|NOT CREPE MYRTLE. AN UNKNOWN (TO US) FLOWERING TREE IN OUR PLAZA.|
Paco has lived in Sevilla for 18 years and thinks it is one of the most wonderful cities around (we agree). But he said that — for at least his first three months in the city — he understood less than half of what the locals said to him. He joked about Sevillanos barely pronouncing their single “r’s” instead of rolling them like he does. He complained they spoke so fast he couldn’t tell where one word ended and the next began. It sounded like he was describing New Yorkers and I told him so, which he found very funny. It was encouraging for us to realize we could actually understand a lot of Spanish when spoken slowly and not in local dialect. Paco’s enunciation was precise and beautiful. (Is it really too much to ask that everyone speak to us as if they are narrating a documentary?)
Like Paco, we will have to get used to the local dialects. And, unfortunately, by the time we do get used to “Southern Spanish,” we will have already made our way tortuously through all our major purchases, moves, and installations.
|FINALLY RAIN. WET STREETS FOR THE TV INSTALLER TO SLOSH THROUGH.|
In the meantime, Digital+ (the cable television company that truly provides exceptional service) was here this morning during a brief, but beautiful, downpour and I was reminded once again that I no longer demonstrate the communication skills of a semi-intelligent adult. The installer spoke a dialect of Southern Spain that enabled me to understand possibly two out of every 10 words. The only thing I immediately understood clearly was when he looked at the outlets behind the TV and said we didn’t have what we needed. Apparently we need to have some kind of antenna (“satellite”) installed either on the roof or on the outside wall near the TV outlet. I took him downstairs to the lawyers’ office. Neither of the lawyers were in; their assistant called the boss and he told her it would be absolutely fine for us to install something outside but he needed to be here to approve where it goes. Perfectly understandable. He’ll be back tomorrow morning to check it out and give us the nod.
|AT LEAST WE ARE NOW CAPABLE OF ORDERING A MEAL.
MOUTH-WATERING SALMON, ASPARAGUS, AND PIMENTOS AT CAFE ALAMEDA MONDAY NIGHT.
Out of the next 40 words from the installer, I understood the eight that explained that Digital+ did not do the antenna and outlet installation. We’d need to get someone else for that before Digital+ comes back to plug their box into our wall outlet to give us our service. (I guess I lied. It appears my ratio of words spoken to words understood was much greater than 10:2.)
After the installer left, I was ready to throw in the towel and head back to Movistar/Telefonica for simple cable — and wait seven or more years for their installer to show up. I used a few choice English words I’m not supposed to use and then, fortunately, Jerry talked me off the ledge. He went online and found someone who installs everything Digital+ needs. I’ll just have to attempt to communicate with this new Sevillano. Maybe I’ll be lucky and he’ll have grown up in Northern Spain.
So, another thing that should have been easy to accomplish is made slightly more difficult because I don’t speak Spanish well, and then even more difficult because I don’t readily understand “Southern” Spanish.
I wonder if we should have moved to Pamplona.
|ON SECOND THOUGHT, MAYBE PAMPLONA’S NOT SUCH A GOOD IDEA. EVEN MORE BULL.|