Sunday 25 September 2016

Un poco de vino tinto white or Cringe 2

She really was determined that these stupid Spanish people were going to understand her. Maybe if she shouted loud enough they would get it. She remembered her Spanish lessons. Wine was “vino tinto” wasn’t it? Pronounced “beano tinto”. She was making an effort, wasn’t she? 

We were almost at the top of Tiede, the volcano, on Tenerife. This lady didn’t look as if she was about to climb the last few metres to the top. 

“Un glass of vino tinto white,” she repeated, louder again

“Quiere vino tinto o vino blanco?” said the barmaid.


The barmaid poured out a glass of red wine.

“No!” The woman pointed at her rather grey T-shirt. “WHITE! Wino whito.”

“Vino blanco!” The barmaid poured the red wine away, fetched a clean glass and filled it with white wine.
 There was then some wrangling about the bill. The English woman seemed to think she was being charged for both drinks whereas really she was being charged tourist prices. This was a popular cafĂ©, half way up the road that lead to Tiede’s peak. 

Now, there’s no harm in getting into a bit of a pickle when trying to communicate in another language. My Spanish is pretty good but even I managed to order chips today instead of fried fish. I allowed the waiter to tease me a little about my pronunciation of “rosada”. We’ve known him since he was a young lad and now he runs the restaurant. 

However, again it was this sense of entitlement that irritated me. She went on and on about it throughout her meal. “Fancy not understanding when I did my best to speak Spanish.” “That girl must be really thick.” Everybody knows what “white” means, don’t they?” “If they want to make money form us tourists they should learn English.” 

The latter perhaps does have a little merit. Yet even here is an assumption that English-speakers are more important than other people. The Spanish anyway are wonderful communicators without having to use any words. I’ve mentioned before that we can’t all be expected to learn every language but we can all make an effort to be polite and pleasant when there’s a bit of a struggle on.
Vino (beano) tinto by the way? Yes, you’ve got it: red wine.

1 comment:

  1. LOL That's so funny. Yet I'm sadly not surprised. I find this 'need' to shout to make yourself understood hilarious. When I worked in bars in Heidelberg many moons ago, we got the odd tourist too who not only spoke English (British or American) but shouted so I could really understand her. I wasn't deaf then. ;-)