October 3, 2017

Barcelona. November, 2010

There are so many reasons why it’s wonderful to learn some of the language before heading abroad. It shows respect for the country and the people you're visiting. It helps you out if you get lost in a non-touristed section of town (like the time we got happily confused descending through the Mouraria neighborhood of Lisbon one night.) It also shows taxi drivers you’re not some bumpkin they can take advantage of (like the time the Istanbul cabbie set the meter to the higher night rate one afternoon.) And then there’s just the simple pleasure of starting a conversation with someone you might not normally engage. Like this cute waiter at the excellent tapas bar Sagardi in Barcelona. Because he wears the same Ray-Ban glasses I do, I was prompted to say, “Me gustan mucho sus anteojos.” He replied with a simple “gracias,” until he saw my glasses and an animated conversation began. He told me where he bought his, how his girlfriend in Washington, DC, didn’t like them at first, etc. It was so nice just to meet someone this way. Also nice, later that same day, was being able to tell the barista in the Bar del Pi that I was leaving Barcelona the day the Pope arrived because “Esta cuidad no es lo suficientemente grande para los dos.”

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