4/3/10: Osorno, Chile
K: Do you want to sit with the bags while I go order?
Z: Sure, that works.
Hindsight being 20/20 like it is, I should have responded, “well then, make yourself comfortable because it’s going to be a half hour before I get back.” (Side note: I don’t really understand the phrase, “hindsight is 20/20.” My brother has something like 20/10 vision and there’s no way he sees better than hindsight. If he does, then he’s really misusing his talents.) I really didn’t expect the following situation to unfold at a small food stand in a grocery store.
After waiting politely for my turn to order amongst the miniature mob of locals who didn’t wait politely for theirs, I stepped up to the counter confident of my ability to bring back a delicious dinner to my waiting wife.
“Hola! Uno hot dog Italiano y una Coca.” The “hola” came off a bit too strong, but I nailed the first part of the order. I was ready to move on to the second when I was hit with a severe case of deja vu. The lady talked back!
Having learned from my prior experiences though, I didn’t panic this time. I simply leaned forward and gave a polite lo siento (“I’m sorry”) as if I didn’t hear the response. I’m pretty sure though that the lady implied from the terrified tourist look on my face that the lo siento referred to the fact that I was sorry I didn’t understand Spanish at all. She immediately went into panic mode herself, calling over another worker, who called over another worker, who began shouting for another. Pretty much the entire food stand operation had stalled from the look I had given.
The newly-formed scrum of food stand workers had an intense discussion, all the while making sure to avoid eye contact with me. You know who had no problem staring at me though? The folks waiting for their orders. I am confident that if they had received any food by this point they would have thrown it at me. On the other hand, those that had received their food were happily eating it. Quite the catch-22.
Eventually the workers broke the huddle and the lady at the cash register finally looked at me again. I’m not quite sure what came of the lengthy discussion, as she seemed to be waiting for me to break the ice. I did.
“Uno hot dog Italiano y una Coca, por favor.”
“Y una hamburguesa y papas fritas y Coca.”
“Lo siento, no hamburguesa.”
“Oh. Una pizza?”
The lady pointed me to the counter around the corner where they kept the frozen pizzas. I planned on eating the pizza now, so this clearly wasn’t going to cut it. Now though I was out of the line. (I think the conclusion they had come to in the scrum was to get the tall foreigner with the bad bedhead out of here as quickly as possible.) I perused the already-prepared foods counter and settled on some marisco empanadas. To your surprise I’m sure, I actually had no idea what marisco is, but I really didn’t want to have to order food again verbally so I took a chance.
I got back in the back of the line/mosh pit and slowly worked my way toward the front to try again. There’s a reason someone invented the phrase “third time’s a charm.” This time I had no problem. I even managed to tell them the order was for here, aqui and that I wanted my empanadas warmed in the oven, caliente. To top it all off, they asked me which of the three sauces I wanted on Zhou’s hot dog, and I told them “si.”
Nearly thirty minutes later, I victoriously made the ten-foot walk back to the table Zhou had staked out for us. The empanadas were terrible.
Puzzles for Postcards
How in the World Did They Make This Anagram?
A Tissue Atom
Picture of the Day: Last night’s sunset in Bariloche.