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Tuesday, September 20, 2005 (read 309 times)
One Word I Won't Easily Forget: Garrafónby Christophe
As you can see my Spanish is getting better by the day! Classes are actually fun here at don Quijote. Granted, learning grammar is always a stuffy business, but the professors here have already been a great help by teaching us some Spanish slang as well. Textbook style and everyday speech tend to be pretty different in any language. Spanish is no exception.
If you only know how to use formal language, you are definitely handicapped. Try chatting up a Spanish girl saying "Buenos dias señorita, como está usted?* " She'll make you out for the gringo you are before you can say crash and burn. I am not guaranteeing that a casual "¡hola guapa! ¿que tal?** " will get your foot in the door but it definitely increases your chances.
There is more: have you ever heard of botellón? That is a Spanish expression for young people drinking in the streets and parks of. Try looking that one up. We even glanced at the wide range of Spanish curses in class. Ever hear words in the street you didn't find in your dictionary? They are called palabrotas: kind of like four-letter-words, only with more letters. They sound more profane than their English counterparts too.
Sometimes though, learning the words just isn't enough. Certain things you have to learn the hard way. Let me share a lesson I'll not soon forget.
We stumbled upon some dodgy bar on Friday that sells ridiculously cheap liquor. I am talking 6 euro a bottle. Against better judgement, my friend and I eagerly ordered this bottle of vodka. I can't say that I noticed anything wrong with it at the time. That is to say, we got wasted and blacked out, which was basically what we should have expected, drinking a litre of vodka and all.
Only the next morning did it hit us. And I mean hit: the worst hangover ever. You probably think you know what I am talking about… I beg to differ. Yes, I had already experienced the pneumatic drill stomping on the pain centre of your brain. The total numbness. The feeling that something crawled up your mouth to die. Uttering the magic words: "That's it. I'm off the booze. For good this time. "
That would have been a walk in the park. Maybe someday I will gather the courage to describe the horror. For now, I just want to forget.
By Monday I had recovered enough to eat solids and by Tuesday I reckoned it was time to return to class as well. And what do you know, in conversation class the topic suddenly turns to alcohol. I do my best not to throw up on the spot and, much to my own surprise, I manage. Gloria, our professor, casually warns us not to drink any of the absurdly low-priced spirits in the lower-end bars. She says they probably mix it with some other, cheaper kind of alcohol. Apparently there even exists a name for the accursed fluid they serve there: garrafón. I didn't blame Gloria for not mentioning it before. I know myself well enough to know that it wouldn't have made a difference. And hey, when you're abroad, your most gruesome experiences have a way of becoming your best travel stories…
For the next couple of weeks I'll probably stick with soft drinks though. The worst hangover ever is not without its charm but I am looking forward to some more productive, maybe even cultural weekends.
* A good day, mylady. How are you today?
** Hey beautiful, how are you doin'?