Learning the language.

I go shopping.

Which seems like a mundane task, yet, for me, is far more fun than it should be.

With labels I have to guess at and translate.

And all of this food, everything so similar and yet different.

The layouts of (most) supermarkets here differs greatly from the sterile plan of English shops, the long, super organised aisles of Tesco, Sainsburys amongst others. The shelves are not as fully stacked, uneven and not at all like the hyper organised, seemingly colour co-ordinated, created by conglomorates that have done vast research to make consumers happy, make us buy things, make us like them the most out of any competitors.

Here, it seems, is not the same.

Perhaps its the difference between the amount of money England and Spain have, reflecting down to small things that aren´t necessary.

There´s one around the corner, further than my usual one, that has a strange carpark, large florescent strip lights that are unusual around here, and the store is brighter, more expensive, the shelves are fuller and there are more surprises of English products hidden in between the others.

Back in my usual shop, I ponder through the now familar, but still exciting aisles, talking to my sister about dishes and plans to cook for the week ahead. I get to the checkout, and a friendly face greets me, I recognise her for my regular shopping trips.

We talk in broken Spanish, as she scans, there is a dilema with a barcode and I have to run back for a replacement, then we find it hard to communicate as I try to say I want both of them now, just saying “Dos!” and gesturing emphatically. Then its me trying to tell her I want a bag, and we laugh as she says that I finally want a bag, I normally manage with just my rucksack. Then I hand over the note, and she counts back my change in Spanish, kindly. She goes to put away the reciept and I gesture for her to give it to me instead.

I pack the rest of the groceries into my bag, and reach to take the reciept, and as I do so, I automatically say “Merci Guapa!”

And as soon as we both realised what I had said, I blush, the heat rising up my neck.

We both burst into laughter.

I walk away laughing, to call my sister and share in my amusing embarrasment, then repeat it again to my friend who is waiting on my doorstep, then later, again, for the girl who comes home to me.

Each time , I laugh, but the blush gets worse with repetition, as does the happiness that I can speak (albeit only two words) automatically in Spanish, even if its just to embarras myself.

Tiny steps.


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