Those were the first thoughts that raced through my mind as our taxi veered sharply towards the big lorry on our right.
Seemingly oblivious to our impending doom, the taxi driver TOOK HIS HANDS OFF THE WHEELS and adjusted the pair of glasses he had placed over the pair he was wearing (one for short sightedness, one for long. I think the technical term for glasses like these is “Coca Cola bottles”).
He continued to flip through his handwritten notes.
“Quiero Ira… ‘I….RA’… is means ‘I want go to’”, he said as he calmly turned his steering wheel away from our possible death at the very last possible moment. I swear I could hear the sound of car molecules scraping against one another.
Hearing that we “No hablar Español”, he had taken it upon himself to teach us a few choice phrases as we sped from the airport to our hostel at 120km/h. He was convinced we would not be able to survive in South America without knowing the language.
In truth, I was more afraid we would not survive his Spanish lesson.
And that marked the beginning of our love/hate relationship with Español in South America.
We love how sexy the pronunciation rolls off the tongues of hot Latino hunks/babes. You know how when people don’t understand us when we speak in English, we try to patiently explain by repeating what we’ve said LOUDER and sloooooower?
It doesn’t work that way here. A blank look from us will normally provoke a rapid and furious output of vowels, consonants and “rrrrs” accompanied by vigorous hand wringing. With their powers combined, they are normally successful in their goal of completely losing us. At that point, we can only close our eyes and wish we could sound just as sexy.
And then there’s the food.
Every meal we had during our first two weeks in Argentina was a dangerous game of Russian Roulette. After the first three meals, we sort of gave up trying to ask what the various items on the menu were, since we would not be able to understand the waiters when they tried to describe the dish to us anyway.
We embarked on a run of trial and error, randomly pointing at items on the menu and just hoping for the best. Most of the time when the waiters repeated our orders to us, we just nodded confidently without knowing what the names of the dishes meant. We managed to catch terms like chicken (pollo), potatoes (papas), milk (leche) and pizza (pizza) pretty fast, but we ran into trouble ordering items from the meat (carne) section.
For a country obsessed with meat, it’s only natural that they have about (I’m making a rough estimation here) 200000000000000000134382 terms for the different cuts of meat and methods of preparations.
That’s the story of how we ended up with a hugeass platter of meat called the Parillada which includes a pinch of potatoes with (again, rough estimation) 638 slabs of grilled steak, BBQed chicken, smoked pork, blood sausages and…. liver.
Death by liver…. I KNEW that’s probably how we were going to go.