Trilingualism: Spanish Lessons with the Police

Sometimes you feel a piercing need for the Mediterranean and you book a low cost flight to Malaga, Spain, to escape the miserable winter. Sometimes you land on Spanish soil looking forward to tapas and sangria. Sometimes you present your flimsy-but-still-valid-to-travel Italian identity card to the custom officer and find out that there’s an anomaly with that little piece of paper. This last one is a situation I do not wish for anyone, especially when your knowledge of the foreign language is limited to a handful of words and a lot of enthusiasm.

The beginning of the holiday was therefore pretty thrilling and included four or five policemen trying to assess whether I was a criminal or not, me trying to prove that I am a good EU citizen with a valid travel document and a whole morning spent in a taxi trying to find the Italian Consulate, which has two different addresses on the internet, both wrong!

During this little but stressful adventure my only consolation was that at last I managed to understand what I was being told, considering that I have never studied Spanish and all I know has been self-taught and driven by the needs of the moment. This means that I master the verb “to be” and a whole array of night terms such as noche, chupito, copas, but I was most definitely not ready to work on the situation “find out with the policemen why your document has a warning coming up on Schengen’s database. Do it by inventing verbs.”

Luckily, the holiday wasn’t spoiled by this inconvenience and my travel buddy and I spent three lovely days eating fried fish and soaking up Mediterranean sun.

La Manquita, cattedrale di Malaga. Cathedral
Very blue sky

I came back to London with a full stomach and enough idyllic memories of blue skies and sunny views to get me through the end of the English winter. In case it doesn’t end, Spain is just one Ryanair ticket away. Maybe next time I’ll study some grammar rules, because understanding, or better said absorbing, what you’re told but not being able to reply because you can’t conjugate verbs is frustrating indeed. Still, you can cheer up with a cerveza or a round on a beach swing!

Amica su un'altalena della spiaggia di Malaga. Friend on a swing on the beach of Malaga Malaga


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