“Quieres —— Spanish Spanish Spanish —-?”

He looks at me inquisitively and I panic. I have no idea what he just said to me.

I try, “…Como?”

He repeats himself. I still don’t understand.

I apologize stammering. “We just moved here, and I don’t understand you,” I say in gringo Spanish.

He lights up – asks me more questions. I think he’s asking where I’m from.

I venture, “Los Estados Unidos.”

He says something else, and I think he’s asking where – did he say New York… no, Ohio? Why would he say Ohio? Since when has anyone in Colombia heard of Ohio??

“Washington DC, pero si Ohio – viviamos en Ohio antes….”

He tries a few words in English, but my broken Spanish is better than his English.

I try to get away from this train wreck of miscommunication, but like every other Colombian I’ve engaged with – he just won’t give up.

After a few more painful minutes, I break away.


I can’t even remember why I came to the grocery store.

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