When I told a friend back home that I was going grocery shopping, she replied, "Take pictures!!! I'll never be grocery shopping in Spain!" Before reading that, I was feeling a bit nervous about heading out into a Spanish-speaking country. She snapped me out of it and reminded me that every moment here is an adventure. I even like saying it. "What am I doing tonight? Not much, just doing a little grocery shopping in Spain."
I love the produce shops here. I want to take a picture every time I pass one. Even if I'm not particularly hungry, I sometimes go inside to buy something. "Una manzana, por favor!"
Although, I occasionally try to say something in Spanish, this is usually followed by the person assuming I can communicate with them further, to which I have to go back to my standby, "No hablo espanol. ¿Hablas inglés?"
It's somewhat of a game for me to get out of the store without the shopkeeper knowing I'm monolingual, for example:
"Hola," I said to the shopkeep at the register.
"Hola," he replied and scanned my groceries.
"Cinco setenta y tres," he said. I know that's my total, but it came off his tongue too fast for me to understand. I looked for the cash register screen for a total, but didn't find it fast enough to make it seem natural. Thinking quickly, I just handed him a ten euro note, which I knew would cover it.
"¿Necesita una bolsa?" I think he said next, thanks to using Google Translate later.
"No, gracias," I said nonchalant, betting he was asking me if I needed a copy of my receipt.
"¿Necesitas una copia de su recibo?" he said while pointing at the receipt printer.
"Oh, no," I thought. "I think he was asking if I needed a bag that first time. Err, I absolutely need a bag for all this. Don't panic, just fill your pockets and carry the rest out in your hands. He'll think you're environmentally conscious."
"Gracias. Adios," I said, hands full, pockets bulging. Success.
Not speaking their language is a shame really. I'm going to miss out on a lot of opportunities to talk to the locals and fully experience their communities and culture. I will try my best, but it won't be the same.
Or maybe bocce ball is so amazing that it can transcend language barriers.
I think I'll just have to keep things really simple. "Tú... yo... ping pong... ahora!"
At least there are apps to help out along the way. Although that particular sign is relatively obvious without translation, tools like this may save my life someday.