The taxi is half way out of downtown Huatulco when I realize that I have not taken the room key from C.C. And thus began the adventure of trying to explain to the driver that I would like him to turn around and return to the restaurant where I have left my husband watching the Canada vs Sweden world junior hockey game.
With each attempt to explain, my gestures grow more wild, my eyes wider and his confusion more profound. He pulls over to the side of the road. He turns and looks at me. “Non comprehende” he says, throwing both hands up and raising his shoulders in the universal sign of, “I don’t get it but I think you may be a crazy woman!”
I point to the keys in the ignition. “Mon Esposo. Kabana Restaurante. Keys.” And I point at the ignition keys again. Turn my hand left to right as if turning a key in a lock. “Porto no ouvret.”
I have no idea what the word in Spanish is for door or for open but I’m hoping somehow, blending French and English and German, the three languages I do speak, will get my point across.
And I am laughing and he is looking more and more worried. Definitely a crazy woman.
Finally, I give up. I throw up my hands as he did and say, “Is okay. Villas Fa-Sol por favor.” I shall just have to get Jordan at Fa-Sol to open my door for me and leave it unlocked until we return after dinner that evening.
And I point one more time to his keys and he says, Clave! And I say, Si! Clave! I hope that is the word for keys and then I add as I point back towards the town. Mon Esposo. Kabana Restaurante.
And he smiles. Big. He turns the car around and we return to the square by the church and he stops in front of the restaurant where C.C. is sitting with his back to us, intently watching the action on the TV in front of him. I call out to him and he brings me the keys. I show them to the driver and he smiles and nods his head and says, “Si. Si. Clava .” I feel his sigh of relief. Not a crazy woman.
I too am relieved. Maybe he will drive me to Villas Fa-Sol and not foist me on another driver as I suspect he might have been attempting to do when we were stopped by another cab and he had been yelling out to the other driver.
I wonder what the words in Spanish are for “Help me! I have crazy-woman in the back seat!”
Eventually, I arrive back at Fa-Sol. I swim and rest in a lounger in the sitting pool and watch the sunset and feel the velvety darkness of the night wrap itself around me. I return to our room high above and sit on the deck, feet resting on one of the white columns of the balcony and savour my alone time until it is time to shower and get ready to meet our hosts, Guillermo and Rosio and our friends Ursula and Andrew. Guillermo and Rosio are taking us out for dinner in Santa Cruz. We are picking C.C. up on our way.
It has been many years since I was in a country where I did not speak the language. Usually, between German, French and English I can find a path to understanding. Though once, at a tiny port in Greece, waiting for a ferry to one of the islands, it did take me over half an hour to order a cup of tea. Who knew ‘tea not coffee’ did not make sense in other cultures? After being offered a Coca Cola, Fanta, and several other drinks I had no idea how to pronounce, the tiny woman dressed in black behind the counter said, while drawing out the long pronounciation of the ‘i’ at the end of the word, “Tzi!” And I smiled in relief as she plopped a tea bag into a cup and poured hot water over it
Not knowing the language makes for interesting conversation, and definitely makes food choices and driving instructions more challenging. Yet, no matter the language, there is one universal sign that everyone understands and connects us all.
In this land where Spanish is spoken at rapid-fire speed and where traffic signs are meant as suggestions only and drivers seem to know only one speed, FAST, the smile is still the fastest way to make a connection.
It may not get you to where you are going, but along the way, you will always feel the warm and welcoming desire of the people to make you feel at home, like they understand you, even when they think you just might be a crazy-woman!
And after a meal shared on the terrace with old and new friends, after good conversation and laughter, no matter what language I speak, gratitude is the universal language of the heart.
In gratitude, I press my hands together, palms facing in prayer, thumbs against my heart and bow my head and say, Gracias.