(almost) funny, Bucket-Lister Pro-tips

Living Abroad Tips: Overcoming language barriers

Bucket-Lister

I don’t know about you, but I got into the Bucket-Lister business for the perks. Trying new things, traveling the world, and immersing myself in cultures most tourists don’t have time for. The pay isn’t great, but you can’t beat these benefits.

And I was a natural. I avoided food poisoning from meals that roamed around on the table, filled a passport or three with colorful stamps, and maintained a respectable frequent-flyer status.

I even mastered the international Bucket-Lister language. Initially, communication was mostly an intricate series of hand and arm signals that would make any Air Traffic Controller proud. It wasn’t pretty, but I could get a taxi, directions to a restaurant (usually not the one I was hoping for), and a hotel room. However, fluency evaded me until I discovered the real Rosetta Stone. With this handy tool, I rarely had to resort to embarrassing peeks at Google Translate, or flail like a duckling trying to find its momma in order to get my message across.

What is the Bucket-Lister’s Rosetta Stone?

An open wallet.

Yes, I’ve found that a decent command of the English language, and an open wallet, turns busy venders into polite guides, and confused waiters into helpful sommeliers. It’s like magic. You’re welcome.

 

The Bucket-Lister language is mostly exaggerated hand/arm signals and confused looks. And an open wallet.

Reaching the Inner Circle

 

While the open wallet trick works great for most transactional relationships, I’ve learned that it’s not as effective when trying to make new friends. I wanted to shed the stigma of arrogant tourist. In order to reach that inner circle where locals start to unveil the good stuff, I would have to use my words. Unfortunately, my words are usually the wrong words…

In a not-distant-enough-for-embarrassment-to-fade past, Monica and I were invited to dinner with several new people in Bucharest. I’m not a big fan of meeting new people in groups, but this represented an exciting opportunity. I brushed up on Romanian survival phrases, grilled Monica on any unusual rules of etiquette I might need to know, and donned my best hoodie. This time I was going to make a lasting impression. I wanted to be more than the American with a cute accent.

I made it through introductions (“Salut” and handshakes for men, “Buna seara” and double-cheek kisses for women), but not much further. The conversation buzzed by in a confusing blend of French, Italian, Romanian, and English. I was a monoglot in a polyglot’s world.

Living Abroad tips | Overcoming Language Barrier (without learning the language)

The wine couldn’t arrive fast enough. Anxious to make some sort of contribution, I raised my glass with a hearty “Prost!” (this was about all the German I knew), which was meet with stony stares. Monica leaned in and whispered “Prost means stupid in Romanian.”

I tried again with “Salut!” and Monica leaned in to remind me that this was “hello.”

I couldn’t remember how to say “cheers” in Romanian, and was too proud to resort to English. My treacherous brain wouldn’t help me recall the Romanian I studied a few hours earlier. Instead, I was transported back to college, slumped over a nearly empty box of Matilda Bay wine with my Tanzanian roommate Ibada. He held up his Dixie cup, leaned off to the side, and shouted “Jamba!”

Surely, everyone would be impressed that I knew Swahili, and it was unlikely that “Jamba” had an offensive Romanian translation.

Phones lit up and I recognized the all-to-familiar Google Translate app. There were a few chuckles. Monica showed me her phone. Apparently, Jamba means “fart” in Swahili.

Some magnanimous soul raised his glass and echoed, “Jamba!” The tension vanished, and I focused on using my mouth for drinking rather than forming more inappropriate words.

 

Monica whispered after we drained our glasses, “Next time, just say Noroc.”

124 Comments

  • Reply YellowCable February 12, 2017 at 5:34 am

    Language barrier to get around in countries that you do not know their language could be a big problem. I think reading street signs to find direction could also be a problem. I guess you could use an app. on a smart phone to translate if you have one. I am sure there are more numerous other things around not understand the language. I recalled I am buying an item in a store in Japan and paid exactly what the number shown next to the item. The store lady spoke something that I had not clue of and she did not give me the item. She kept saying words that I not understand and I kept speaking English. Until someone told me that the price did not include tax (or vat) 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel February 12, 2017 at 10:24 am

      I can imagine that was frustrating. My Japanese friends love to tease me about my horrible accent and inability to learn even simple survival phrases. Glad to hear I’m not the only one with travel-related communication problems!

  • Reply Almost Iowa February 12, 2017 at 7:37 am

    Okay…. from now on, every time I raise a glass with my friends, it is going to be “Jamba” and when I tell them what it means, it will be “JAMBA!!”

    Fun read.

    • Reply Gabriel February 12, 2017 at 10:28 am

      Hehehe. You know, when we get together with some of the friends from that night, they ALWAYS start off with Jamba! I don’t know if that’s become a new nickname for me, or if this is their way of embracing me as part of the cool-kids club after surviving this rite of passage. I’m gonna pretend that its the later.

      Besides, some things are best left as mysteries (like foreign language skills).

  • Reply Green Global Trek February 12, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Haha too funny. A situation many of us travelers have found ourselves in at one time or another. My humble advice is that you can always do a toast in your native tongue even if no one speaks that language. For example, saying “cheers” with a group of Vietnamese men saved my husband in a potentially awkward drinking situation. At least no danger of misinterpretation. 🙂 And myself being Jewish, will often go with “la chaim” or “to life” …. then people usually follow with their own language.

    Very fun/funny post though ehich I enjoyed reading.
    Peta

    • Reply Gabriel February 12, 2017 at 10:34 am

      Yay! Hi Peta. I thought about you and your husband as I wrote this. The ease with which you navigate the world, and dive so deeply into fascinating cultures. I’m incredibly envious. But, as a bucket-lister, I’m determined to improve my skills.

      I should have followed your advice. Cheers would have been just fine. But my ego got in the way. I was trying too hard not to be another “American tourist.” Instead, I became that American tourist that directs others to fart before drinking…

      • Reply Green Global Trek February 12, 2017 at 10:41 am

        Well you get credit for wanting to “blend in” and not stand out! That is always a good goal. And hey, it did make for a great story right?

        • Reply Gabriel February 12, 2017 at 10:46 am

          Absolutely!

  • Reply Didi February 12, 2017 at 9:22 am

    This is so funny. The few words Swahili I learned in Kenia didn’t include “Jamba”.  I’ve seen quite a bit of the world and  liked the time before translation apps much more. The sometimes funny translations I gave often caused situtions to lighten up and friendships start ( and made me blush heavily).

    As in  most other situations too; when people find out that you try and put some effort in it, it doesnt matter if you do it perfect. They’ll help you. Once you’re past the point of holding back because you want to do things only perfect the doors will open.

    • Reply Gabriel February 12, 2017 at 10:39 am

      That’s awesome Didi! Did you get a chance to play in the Mari Masi? or climb Mt Kilimanjaro? I’m looking forward to inviting (dragging) Monica on a marathon through the Kenyan savana and concluding with a several day hike up to the summit of the highest mountain in Africa. Sounds incredibly exciting!

      Most of the time, your right. People will appreciate the effort we put into trying to communicate. My command over the Romanian language has improved exponentially since the events described in this post, and much of the improvement is due to the patience of friends and helpful strangers.

      Thanks so much for the comment Didi and hope you’re doing well!

      • Reply Didi February 12, 2017 at 11:21 am

        I didnt climb mt Kilamanjaro due to choices made by time and travel companions. Might have done in different circumstances but I would never want to trade my Savannah experiences for that climb as i think there are prettier mountains in the world but nothing compares to the savannahs. But of course thats my opinion.
        Nights on the Savannah in a tent, with all sounds and smells, made a big impression.I went to Masi Mara, Tsavo East and West, Amboselli and the coastline. All different landscapes, all beautiful.  Did some hikes and camping. Amazing to have breakfast in front of the tent while families of elephants pass by. Midnight  pee stops with a guard with a gun next to you because of lions, are a different story.

        Im glad to hear you have  so many nice people helping you to improve your knowledge of the Romanian language. I’m sure you’re doing a great job!

        • Reply Gabriel February 13, 2017 at 3:55 am

          Sweet! These are exactly the kind of experiences I’m hoping to share with Monica. Can’t wait!

  • Reply the incurable dreamer February 12, 2017 at 9:31 am

    HA! I love it. I don’t care how old you are, farts will always be funny, especially when you are inappropriately referencing them at a dinner table! The. Best. My new goal is to learn the word fart in every language so I can ease the tension no matter where I am. Thanks for the inspiration, Gabe!

    • Reply Gabriel February 12, 2017 at 10:41 am

      What an AWESOME idea! if there were one word to know in every language, I think this would be it. Now, if you expanded it to phrases, “Where’s the friggin’ bathroom” would be better, but that’s too complicated. Besides, I’ve already learned that the pee-pee dance is universal. And a big crowd pleaser.

  • Reply The Hook February 12, 2017 at 9:56 am

    I intend to live the rest of my life through you, buddy.
    Virtual vicarious living rocks…

    • Reply Gabriel February 12, 2017 at 10:43 am

      Thanks so much! These are heady words coming from the most insightful, and entertaining bellman I know.

      I’m absolutely planning to learn how to be a better blogger from you by the way…

      • Reply The Hook February 12, 2017 at 1:11 pm

        You honor me deeply, Gabriel.
        I don’t consider myself an accomplished blogger, so your words mean the world to me.
        And by the way, you’re on the right track.

  • Reply restlessjo February 12, 2017 at 10:13 am

    I like the Hook’s style 🙂 And yours isn’t so bad either. How’s your Polish these days? Probably on a par with my Portuguese. Whatever happened to Esperanto? No, that’s quite enough for one day. Pass the bottle!

    • Reply Gabriel February 12, 2017 at 10:44 am

      I’m with you. Hook’s the man!

      You’ve got me beat in ALL the P languages. But yes… pass the bottle!

  • Reply Buffy Devane February 12, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Haha… I love this [!] Great read. 🙂

    Slainte…!
    [As said in Scotland & Ireland]

    • Reply Gabriel February 12, 2017 at 10:46 am

      Yes! Tanya (the incredible dreamer above) is planning to land cheers in every language. I wonder how many we can get going here 😉

  • Reply karenlee February 12, 2017 at 11:43 am

    My goodness, you have me laughing so hard I have tears in my eyes. But, I don’t think your faux pas(s) here are worse than what I did in 1976 when I was staying in Brazil. I lived with a most delightful family–I was an exchange student for three months and I’m lucky they still consider me “family”–when one evening at dinner I unintentionally “flipped off” my host father. In that culture, giving the OK sign is equivalent to giving them the finger. I HAD NO IDEA, but quickly learned when I received several dark stares. It was explained later. I was horrified! Me? I don’t have a mean bone in my body, so to think that I did this was both hilarious and horrifying. Using hand gestures in other countries has its risks! 🙂 Great post. 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel February 13, 2017 at 4:02 am

      Ha! This is so true. I’ve been very cavalier with my non-verbal cues over the years, only to discover that I wasn’t communicating what I thought at all. Nothing as dramatic as flipping off my host father of course…

      Loved your story here, and made me feel a lot less embarrassed about a little mix-up with translation. Thanks for playing!

  • Reply usathroughoureyes February 12, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    So true about “you can’t beat these benefits”. We no “jamba” here, mun, lol or at least in front of the mate.

    • Reply Gabriel February 13, 2017 at 4:05 am

      Ha! You know, I never learned whether Jamba is a Swahili verb or a noun. After your comment, I really should find out.

      All hail Google Translate!

  • Reply Janis February 12, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    Too funny! I am so impressed with people who know multiple languages, or at least enough words to get by. I am so afraid to say inappropriate words by mistake (“fart” would be one), that I often don’t try at all. We English speakers get so lazy since many people speak it throughout the world. I’ll be taking an immersion course in Spanish soon, so I hope that will make me more brave. I’ll be sure to ask what the Spanish word for fart is.

    • Reply Gabriel February 13, 2017 at 4:13 am

      This is so true, at least as far as I’m concerned. English, a willingness to flail my arms around a bit, and an open wallet is usually enough to get by in my countries around the world. Nearly 75% of our communication can be completed with non-verbal cues. I guess the other 25% are potential fart jokes 😉

      Good luck with your immersion course! (I think if you start with “se tiró un pedo” -he farted- you’ll be safe.) There, now I’ve done my good deed for the day! I think I’m going to take a little nap 😉

    • Reply Quinn February 14, 2017 at 9:38 am

      The word you’re looking for is ‘pedo.’ I wish you all the entertainment you can muster out of that one!

  • Reply rugby843 February 12, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Love your profile note and short story.

    • Reply Gabriel February 13, 2017 at 4:13 am

      Glad you liked it and thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply dave ply February 12, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    I never advanced much beyond gestures and making mime that for some reason causes my wife to snicker behind my back – and me being so earnest about it…

    But then I never did the immersion thing that you’re doing, a dive so deep you may only surface again if you grow gills (figuratively, of course).

    • Reply Gabriel February 13, 2017 at 4:23 am

      hehehe Monica has been the beneficiary of so many of my “missteps,” I’m convinced that’s one of the reasons she stays married to me. (That and my rugged good looks of course.)

  • Reply Miriam February 13, 2017 at 4:53 am

    Loved this. It reminded me of when I went to Italy with my husband a few years ago. It got to the stage where, when he was served so much food by my relatives and had no idea of what they were saying, he’d just nod and accept everything. They loved him. It’s always good to know a few words though. And hand gestures help! ? Great post Gabe.

    • Reply Gabriel February 13, 2017 at 6:38 am

      Yeah, exactly! Why do families insist on stuffing us as a surrogate for conversation? I’m still recovering from the holidays 😉

  • Reply Renegade Expressions February 13, 2017 at 8:55 am

    I nominated you for the ‘Versatile Blogger Award’. I look forward to your acceptance and participation. https://renegadeexpressions.com/2017/02/13/the-versatile-blogger-award/

    • Reply Gabriel February 14, 2017 at 5:11 am

      I appreciate the gesture, but unfortunately, I don’t participate in blogger awards.

      • Reply Renegade Expressions February 14, 2017 at 8:28 am

        Hey, that’s ok.

      • Reply Marc and Ann February 17, 2017 at 4:42 am

        Why not? Just curious.

        • Reply Gabriel February 17, 2017 at 9:46 am

          In general, blogger awards are the chain letters of the blogosphere. In order to participate, recipients backlink to several bloggers, then “nominate” friends. The posts associated with these awards are generally not substantial, and often feel a lot like SPAM mail.

          I work really hard to make (Almost) Unsalvageable a cozy place to curl up and enjoy a story or three, and (hopefully) prompt wonderful readers such as yourself to join in a fun, and meaningful conversation.

          • Marc and Ann February 17, 2017 at 4:55 pm

            Wow. The world needs more people like you?

          • Gabriel February 17, 2017 at 9:56 pm

            hehehe your too kind.

  • Reply Scott (aka Dad) February 13, 2017 at 10:52 am

    That was a great story! I can see you doing that so clearly. I know that you’ll eventually conquer more of the language barriers. You have put so much effort into all that you do. I’ll enjoy reading more of your exploits in the future. Stay well.

    • Reply Gabriel February 14, 2017 at 5:07 am

      I’m sure you have no difficulty imagining me doing something awkward Dad (I’ve given us plenty of material to choose from 😉 )

  • Reply Arionis February 13, 2017 at 11:19 am

    LOL, you had me at fart, you had me at fart. Who knew a fart (or reference to one) would save you? It’s usually the other way around. At least you had the stones to continue trying after the first faux pas. I would have descended into a catatonic sate of verbal paralysis.

    • Reply Gabriel February 14, 2017 at 5:06 am

      Yup. It’s a toss up for me too. I’m pretty good at turning embarrassing moments into awkward silences OR forcing dizzying plummets into incoherent rants. Fortunately, this one turned out well.

  • Reply Ann Coleman February 13, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Hey, you tried, and that’s the main thing! (And I’m going to remember the open wallet tip for my next trip abroad.) Several years ago, my husband and I were in France, and in preparation for the trip, I had tried to learn as many French phrases as possible. A few times I even remembered them. But all too often, my mind went first to the English words for whatever I was trying to say, and then to the Spanish words because I had studied Spanish in school, and by the time I finally remembered the proper French words, the person I was talking to had decided I was either an idiot or knew no French at all, and usually spoke to me in English. The only good thing was I discovered that the French are actually pretty nice to Americans whom they think are mentally challenged.

    • Reply Gabriel February 14, 2017 at 5:02 am

      Yes! What is it about France, particularly Paris, that brings out the distinctly American in us? I think it’s like seeing the drop-dead gorgeous hottie during high school prom, the one that saunters up to you and asks if you’d be willing to help her with her Chemistry homework. You can’t help but stammer something incoherent and completely embarrassing.

      Paris is the out-of-our-league Siren of the awkward tourist. Someday though… oh yes… some day. She WILL be mine!

  • Reply Quinn February 14, 2017 at 9:41 am

    To be fair to you, you persisted! Great show of commitment there!

    This might be a silly question but… What’s a ‘bucket lister’?

    • Reply Gabriel February 14, 2017 at 10:32 am

      Not a silly question at all. I’m pretty sure I made the term up, but a “bucket list” is a collection of dreams to accomplish, or things to do, in our lifetime. Common examples would be traveling around the world, skydiving, living out of a backpack for 6 months, and marrying the person of your dreams.

      And a “bucket lister” is someone who does this for a living. I LOVE my job!

      • Reply Quinn February 14, 2017 at 10:34 am

        Oh I see. Like cage-diving with sharks…. going on safari…. getting my PADI license…. We could all be bucket listers, in a way!

        • Reply Gabriel February 14, 2017 at 10:36 am

          hehehe I knew you were my kind of people!

          Thanks so much for stopping by, and please feel free to come back whether the mood strikes.

  • Reply Jay February 14, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Hey, it’s still pretty good if you ask me!

    • Reply Gabriel February 14, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      hehehe your right. Since posting this, a few friends have told me that this needs to be my thing. I need to learn to proudly proclaim my Jamba from the rooftops of the world.

      Otherwise, it’s going to haunt me for the next few years.

  • Reply nocturnalmomtalks February 14, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    Gab, thank you for dropping by my site. I cant help but adore yohrw digital paintings. You are an awesome artist! Arts and Crafts is not my thing (I wish it is) but I can tell by your works that you put a lot of effort and all your heart into it that’s why the results are magnificent. I’m tempted to ask you a favor to create a logo for my site! Haha! More power Gab and I’ll look forward to your posts 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel February 15, 2017 at 6:24 am

      Thanks so much for the compliments! I still have quite a bit to learn, but I’m enjoying it every step of the way thus far.

      I don’t know if I’ll be able to help you design artwork or logos for your blog but I’m always happy to help out any members of my blogging community if I can. Perhaps you can send an email to me at gabeburkhardt@me.com and we can go from there.

      Thanks for following!

  • Reply Bun Karyudo February 14, 2017 at 11:44 pm

    I think your memory must be having a little fun at your expense, Gabe, supplying you with words like that! 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel February 15, 2017 at 6:57 am

      Hehehe very true Bun. My brain and I are mortal enemies. I sure hope I win… but I doubt it.

      BTW not sure why, but your comment ended up in the spam folder. Stupid internet…

      • Reply Bun Karyudo February 15, 2017 at 7:22 am

        Oh, have I started visiting spam folders again? I do that sometimes. I’m not sure why. I think perhaps the WordPress happiness engineers go around changing all the signs on the doors or something.

        • Reply Gabriel February 16, 2017 at 4:06 pm

          You know, now that you mention it, I may have to pay a visit to these WordPress happiness engineers. Methinks something foul is a foot in the state of Wordppress-opia the past few days, but I thought it was just me. (guess I couldn’t resist one more foot-related pun 😉 )

          • Bun Karyudo February 17, 2017 at 3:44 am

            WordPress-opia! I like it! 🙂

  • Reply wonderwall360blog February 15, 2017 at 5:54 am

    Ha know in Cuba we had a restaurant chosen for us by a taxi driver because he knew the owners!

    • Reply Gabriel February 15, 2017 at 6:27 am

      So jealous- would love to visit Cuba.
      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • Reply Riya Rajayyan February 15, 2017 at 6:13 am

    Nominated you for an award, Do check it out!
    https://aestheticgraphy.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/the-versatile-blogger-award/

    • Reply Gabriel February 15, 2017 at 6:49 am

      Thank you for the nomination Riya, and I appreciate you following me here, but I don’t participate in blogger awards.

      And Congratulations to you!

  • Reply angelanoelauthor February 15, 2017 at 6:25 am

    Wonderful! I so admire your attempts at your lighthearted acceptance of so many glorious fails.

    • Reply angelanoelauthor February 15, 2017 at 6:27 am

      the “at” should be “and” otherwise what I wrote above makes no sense. Fail. 🙂

      • Reply Gabriel February 15, 2017 at 6:31 am

        hehehe this is a spellcheck-free zone. It’s the virtual equivalent to taking ones shoes off at the door so we don’t track in any of that outside garbage 😉

    • Reply Gabriel February 15, 2017 at 6:30 am

      Thank you, both for the comments and for visiting my humble little blog.

      I’ve created quite a few opportunities to hone my self-deprecation skills over the years, glad you enjoy.

      And your blog is amazing as well! Looking forward to following!

  • Reply susielindau February 15, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    This is laugh out loud, HILARIOUS! That could have easily been me.
    Thanks for bringing this to the party! It’s never too late to click on a few links and introduce yourself to the guests.

    • Reply Gabriel February 16, 2017 at 4:10 pm

      So glad we could share a laugh or two Susie. It’s generally the other way around. Your place is absolutely my favorite Wild Ride in the blogosphere amusement park.

      And thanks for hosting another great party!

  • Reply Marc and Ann February 17, 2017 at 4:40 am

    This is hilarious and I’ve had my moments too. But, I’ll save that for another post?

    • Reply Gabriel February 17, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Great! I’m always excited to share the limelight with a fellow bucket-lister with a refined sense of humor.

  • Reply aFrankAngle February 17, 2017 at 6:14 am

    Oh my … the ending had me laughing. Cheers to your travels and grabbing the local culture. Never really thought about the impact of the open wallet strategy. Hmmm … got to remember that one!

    • Reply Gabriel February 17, 2017 at 9:49 am

      Thanks Frank, and so glad you got a chuckle out of it. I feel like it was all worth it now…

      And yes, the open wallet truly is the universal translator (and often a time machine).

  • Reply Inside the Mind of Isadora February 17, 2017 at 6:49 am

    LOL … I had a similar experience in Mexico. The words I thought meant banana turned out to mean penis. LOLOL Languages can be very interesting. Of course, wine in any language is muy bueno.
    Isadora ?

    • Reply Gabriel February 17, 2017 at 9:55 am

      HA! I know exactly which word you’re talking about.

      The more and more we get to know each other, the more I see our common ground. Love it! and looking forward to following you in your world as well!

  • Reply Liesbet February 17, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Haha. This story made me smile. Well-told. You are great with anecdotes. I could use you for writing my memoir. 🙂 I’m known to blurt things out as well, in all languages, but at least in English, I actually do know what I say. And, weirdly enough, I might actually offend Americans more with my directness than other cultures with my attempts to communicate.

    • Reply Gabriel February 17, 2017 at 10:35 am

      After reading these comments, I’ve discovered I am far from alone in the translational slips that add spice to our conversations. Love it!

      Hehehe good for you! Always always always speak your mind! Of course, I would follow my own advice, but I rarely know my own mind well enough to speak it…

  • Reply candidkay February 20, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    Oh, geez:). Smile and nod. Smile and nod. Smile and nod. That is the new monoglot mantra . . .

    • Reply Gabriel February 20, 2017 at 8:49 pm

      hehehe so true (and don’t forget to tip 😉 )

      • Reply candidkay February 21, 2017 at 5:49 am

        I do know Spanish and was able to get by in Costa Rica. That was as tourist, though. Dinner party with intelligent convo would be much harder! Give you kudos for a brave attempt:)

        • Reply Gabriel February 21, 2017 at 6:31 am

          lo siento Señora, no entiendo en español, pero quiero aprender 😉

          • candidkay February 21, 2017 at 6:24 pm

            Muy bien! (For a gringo?)

  • Reply attalcai February 22, 2017 at 4:48 am

    I was invited offhand to a coworkers “kebt kitab”, which is how you say the singing of the contracts for a Muslim wedding. I said sure! Let’s go. We all left from work and went to a book store…it ended up being his book signing, NOT his wedding (which happened to be 3 months later). Oops!

    • Reply Gabriel February 22, 2017 at 8:22 am

      Ha! These stories end up becoming some of our favorites in time don’t they? Even though we find ourselves awkward and a little embarrassed at the time. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Lori February 28, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Ha. Cute story.

    • Reply Gabriel February 28, 2017 at 3:29 pm

      Thanks Lori. It’s one of those moments that are a lot more fun to remember than to live 😉

  • Reply Lilian @ Lil' Hidden Treasures February 28, 2017 at 11:45 pm

    Such a hilarious read! Love it!

    • Reply Gabriel March 1, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      Thanks Lilian!

  • Reply Mick Canning March 1, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Jamba…I like it!

    • Reply Gabriel March 2, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      Hehehe. I’m hoping this will become a “thing.” However, by the time it catches on, I suspect I will be knee deep in my next public blunder…

      Thanks so much for stopping by and following Mick. Love your art, and your blog! Looking forward to picking up a few tips from a veteran.

  • Reply thenuttybookblogger March 11, 2017 at 8:16 am

    It sounds like you and Monica had a delightful time! I know English, some Spanish, and some Polish. I bet it was a fun adventure!

    • Reply Gabriel March 11, 2017 at 9:08 pm

      hehehe yes. However, I’m pretty sure Monica had a better time than I did 😉

      On an unrelated note, I’m sending you an email with a sketch that I hope you enjoy. Curious to know what you think.

      • Reply thenuttybookblogger March 12, 2017 at 11:25 am

        I love love love love love love love the drawing. It will be framed and hung up!! Big xoxoxoxo

        • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 11:21 pm

          So glad you like it Jacqueline! If it’s OK with you, I may share it on a future (Almost) Wordless Wednesday post.

  • Reply Barb Knowles March 14, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    This is HYSTERICAL! By the way, how did I get so far behind in my blog post reading? First, I tell my students that if they use Google Translate they will fail my class. That being said, a new student from China started this year. 99+% of our English as a New Language students are from Spanish-speaking countries and speak Spanish or a combination of Spanish and indigenous languages. Which I speak. So, even though I should have known better, I went to Google translate for “good morning” in Mandarin, to add to my Good Morning list in the classroom. This exceptionally quiet, respectful student had to hold his stomach to contain his laughter which finally erupted. Only God knows what I really wrote. I could so relate to that part of your story.
    Second, this has given me an idea for a blog post for which I will give you full credit and a link to your blog.
    This was great.

    • Reply Gabriel March 15, 2017 at 4:53 am

      I’m so glad I shared this post. So many people have similar stories of language barriers they tripped over on their way to fluency.

      I’ll head over to check out your post. I’m sure it’ll be hilarious!

      • Reply Barb Knowles March 15, 2017 at 5:28 am

        I hope that you get more visitors and followers with my link to your blog in general, and this post in particular. It was priceless.

        • Reply Gabriel March 15, 2017 at 5:49 am

          hehehe really glad you enjoyed Barb. And I’m loving all the engagement, growth this little passion project has generated. Thank you for spreading the word. We’re just getting started here 😉

          • Barb Knowles March 15, 2017 at 5:52 am

            I’m afraid to even reply to you now in English, lol. And I didn’t write pork chop, it’s what I said standing in front of all of my peers. Who were almost all native speakers. *sigh*

  • Reply delrowbeatrice March 14, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    ???I seriously love this post… I learned some new words today, thanks to you!

    • Reply Gabriel March 15, 2017 at 5:03 am

      hehehe so glad to hear Beatrice. If my stumbling attempts to get a grip on foreign languages helps you improve yours, it’s all worth it!

  • Reply flyingthroughwater March 15, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Ha!! SO good! So very, very good! Shared in my Posts of Note today! 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel March 16, 2017 at 12:07 am

      Thanks Nikki and glad you liked it. And even gladder that you included it on your Posts of Note. I’m in VERY good company (especially that first guy. He OBVIOUSLY has great taste)

  • Reply Di March 17, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    ‘Cheers, mate..’ A great read, Gabriel… and this is where body language and facial expressions come into their own??
    Congratulations on this being a Post of note

    • Reply Gabriel March 17, 2017 at 9:44 pm

      Thanks Di. And yes it was a great treat to be included in Nikki’s Posts of Note. Hope you’re having a good one too!

  • Reply b. breazeale June 9, 2017 at 11:35 am

    I so feel your pain on this one…Spanish was excruciating…French will be the death of me. Wrote this after spending a month in Paris last December…after I lived there for a 1 1/2 years…and the DRC for 6 months. It was humbling..no actually humiliating how I reverted back to speaking like a toddler.

    “To learn a language you have to be willing to make a complete fool out of yourself, not have any idea why you just made a fool out of yourself, and then join in when everyone is laughing at you because you made a complete fool out of yourself”. – brooke breazeale

    🙂

    • Reply Gabriel June 9, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      hehehe exactly! Although I have a difficult time seeing you as a making a fool of yourself in a foriegn place, I understand that I’ll need to be willing to shed my illusions about sounding and acting “proper” in order to truly immerse myself in new environments.
      Cheers Natalie, and here’s to new adventures!

  • Reply Ritu August 10, 2017 at 1:49 am

    Oh Gabe this is so funny! I always had issues with my Punjabi because we mix Swahili into it (my parents having been born and brought up in Kenya. ) when I went to uni I was so excited to mix with other Punjabi kids like myself. Except there were times they didn’t understand what I was saying. Took a long conversation on the phone with my mum to confirm I was talking another langiage… not Just punjabi to them! 🤣

    • Reply Gabriel August 12, 2017 at 9:13 pm

      Hey Ritu!
      So sorry for the delayed reply. Ive been swamped here.
      And I’m jealous… you know at least 3 languages! I have a hard enough time mastering Romanian and English 😉

      • Reply Ritu August 13, 2017 at 12:01 am

        Lol!!! Well I know English and Punjabi. A smattering of Swahili. Textbook French (which I forget due to lack of use!) Because I speak Punjabi I can speak and understand most Hindi and Urdu too! My son is learning Spanish so I’m trying to pick that up too! Due to my job I know some key phrases in Slovakian/Roma/Polish too!
        Language is Wonderful!

  • Reply blondieaka August 10, 2017 at 8:00 am

    I have learnt the right ways and the wrong ways here but basically if you elongate your words you are understood most of the time…lol 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel August 12, 2017 at 9:13 pm

      hehehe and if that doesn’t work, the open wallet always helps 😉

      • Reply blondieaka August 13, 2017 at 12:33 am

        Ha ha ..that is a given… 😉

  • Reply Jennifer August 10, 2017 at 9:44 am

    I would be spitting out my wine right now if I had any. Thanks for the laugh you old Jamba!

    • Reply Gabriel August 12, 2017 at 9:14 pm

      hehehe sweet! Another satisfied costumer!

    Now it's your turn to play!

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