The "I Dont Know Spanish" Charades Game

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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My first impressions of Buenos Aires included an overwhelming confusion. I realized very quickly that I did not know nearly enough Spanish to suffice for this city. The taxi ride to our residencia was very long, and upon arrival at the dorm, I needed to find the bano.... I found it down the hall and missing the essential roll of toilet paper. This is when panic set in. I found the housekeeper, Graciela, and asked for "toilet paper." She spouted out a long line of Spanish, which I am pretty sure meant something along the lines of "What are you talking about?" Mary Beth tried out her Spanish skills, but was also unsuccessful. I conversed with Graciela in basic noun and infinitives for a good 5 minutes, and then she tried to give me a towel. Not exactl what I needed. Finally, I remembered my English-Spanish dictionary I had purchased, and found the word "papel ingenicio"- my problems were solved and Graciela ran to grab me some! It is not so much the nonsensical conversation with Graciela or the phenominally entertaining game of charades that accompanied it that left an impression on me as it was her willingness to communicate with me. I spent last summer in France, and I noticed a few "undisclosed" European countries on my travels that had citizens who were completely unwilling to attempt to speak with an American. I have experienced countless occasions in the last week in which an Argentine spent over 5 minutes trying to communicate with me or help me, when they had other things I am sure they could be doing. On two different instances, we have had people in restaurants approach us, ask us about our travels, and most importantly assist us with translating the menu and selecting fabuloua meals. It is so nice and much less intimidating to venture to a new place and explore the culture where a complete stranger is willing to help you understand them- even if it means playing charades on a street corner!
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