It’s not rare that we have to use the line “no entiendo”, meaning “I don’t understand”. We are living in the DR. Spanish is not our first language, and quite often they are not even speaking spanish to us but instead they are talking “Dominican”. Like every other language, some of it gets broken down into local dialect, and here is no different. So yeah, it happens a lot that we don’t understand. And neither Eben nor I are ashamed to ask someone to repeat something, once, twice, or how ever many times are needed until we finally “get it”. And sometimes we still don’t get it, even after all the repetition and have to look to someone else for help. But like I said, we don’t care if we look foolish. We are learning the language and we’re ok with that.
The funny part is when you think you are understanding, or that the other person has understood you, and what you get as the end result is totally not what you expected. This is miscommunication at its best. Where you get a good laugh out of it.
A comical one happened to me a few weeks ago. We knew that in the upcoming week we would be moving out of our hometel to relocate to a nearby hotel for a two week period. One night over supper one of the chefs came out and I asked him, in my awesome spanish, when would be the next time they would be serving their Tiramisu for dessert, since its my favorite dessert that they make here. He smiled and assured me it would be before we left. I was happy with his answer. Happy that I would get to indulge one more time before we moved. I thought we had understood each other quite well, and went on with my supper.
The next day, our friend and waitress Genesis, that works here and speaks really good english, came and asked me if it was my birthday. I laughed and asked why she thought it was. Ends up the chef I had spoken to the night before thought I was requesting a Tiramisu cake be made for me for some special reason. Genesis only assumed the logical, that if I was asking for a cake it must be my birthday. That evening, when we arrived for supper at the buffet, another one of the chefs comes to our table with a full Tiramisu cake made just for me. I was embarrassed and happy all at the same time. Oops. A clear example of miscommunication. I felt bad that they had gone through all that effort to make an extra dessert for that night because I had “requested” it, but I was also secretly happy to get a little bit of the cake before I left. Maybe a full one wasn’t needed though.
Eben and Liam spent the rest of supper teasing me about this massive cake that sat at our table. They also slightly ridiculed me for the ginormous piece that I cut out for myself before returning the rest of the cake to the buffet dessert table. It is my favorite cake here, why not enjoy what’s mine! So I had a big enough piece to store in my fridge and enjoy it for the following three nights.