After I had been studying Spanish for 8 months I thought it would be a great idea to visit Spain for immersion.
When I got to Spain, however, I realised I didn’t know Spanish at all. All of a sudden people were talking about politics and religion and following conversations was difficult.
I remember being really confused because I kept hearing people say “haber”
Why was everyone saying “haber” (which in Spanish is one of the ways to say “to have”) ?
I remember tweeting about my frustration and then my friend Berta tweeted back:
“They’re probably saying “a ver”, which means “let’s see” ”
Oh, that makes sense…
( For those of you who don’t speak Spanish: “h” is not pronounced in the language and “v” and “b” are pronounced in the same way.)
I guess I didn’t know Spanish too well…
I remember feeling happy because my girlfriend at the time came to visit. It was an opportunity to take a break from Spanish.
The night that she came, we bought 2 bottles of wine and went to a hotel to celebrate. For the record, I’m a really light drinker and it doesn’t take much for me to lose control.
If you’re still reading you probably want the details, right? But I promise, the sex isn’t the best part of the story. I’m sure you’ll understand if I skip to the part where my drunk girlfriend is in the room crying and shouting.
“My life is over”
“Why don’t you listen!”
“I’m not ready to be a mother!!!”
I jumped out of the bed and put on my clothes.
“Everything will be….” I couldn’t finish my sentence because I toppled over as I tried to put on my trousers.
“you’re not going anywhere, David. It’s raining and you can barely stand”
“I don’t care what you say, I’m leaving this room, and I’m going to buy the morning after pill.”
¿hay una farmacia cerca? I asked the lady at the reception.
“hay una, pero esta bastante lejos”
“So…there’s is a pharmacy, but it’s far. Ok, I can do this.” I said to myself.
She drew the route on a map and wished me luck.
I was walking through a storm drunk, trying my best to not topple over.
After walking for 10 minutes, I felt lost so I took out the map to see where I was.
The rain shot down on the map like bullets and instantly tore it to shreds. Great.
The next 20 minutes were awful. Falling over in the rain while drunk is horrible.
When I made it to the pharmacy I was out of breath and drenched.
I walked up to the counter and the lady said:
“¿en qué puedo ayudarle?”
I didn’t know how to respond.
She was asking me to tell her what I needed, but I had no idea how to say “the morning after pill”.
I asked her if she spoke English.
There was an awkward silence which lasted a while, I’d go as far as to say it was eerie.
She stared as I racked my brain for the word “pill” which I had seen in the picture dictionary I had back in London. I remembered the word in Spanish started with “p”
Yes, that was it!
I did my best to explain what I wanted.
“Quiero un pastel mañana”
She didn’t understand.
I said it louder.
“QUIERO UN PASTEL MAÑANA”
She seemed more confused. I was desperate so I started to act.
“Quiero un pastel mañana” I said, while rubbing my stomach, trying to communicate I wanted a pill to stop a woman from getting pregnant.
She started to laugh. I thought hard about what I must have been doing wrong.
I sat down to think. I thought and thought and thought…..
Then I felt my phone in my back pocket and shouted “Google TRANSLATE!”
I yanked my phone out of my pocket and typed into the translator “I want the morning after pill” then showed her the phone.
“Ahhhh! un momento por favor”
It worked! It worked! She was off to get the pill and Google translate stopped me from becoming a father!
What went wrong? Well, my grammar was bad, but more importantly, I had been using the wrong word.
The word for pill in Spanish is “pastilla”, and the word “pastel” which I was using means “cake”
I thought I was rubbing my stomach telling her I wanted the morning after pill, but I was really saying:
“I want cake tomorrow”
Damn, what an experience.
The day Google translate stopped me from becoming a father.