This afternoon I was at the church down the street helping them setup a website. Haley sent me an instant message asking me to pickup some jelly and butter from the nearby store before I came home. I had forgotten my Blackberry, but I figured it wasn't any problem. I could just find the items on the shelf. I couldn't after a few minutes of acting confused and looking at every shelf someone came up to try to help me.
My ability to communicate in Spanish totally left me. The only Spanish words I could think of were for Bread, Fruit, and Milk. I started with the butter. I said "pan" (bread) and acted like a I was holding a piece of bread and spreading something on it. They took me to the bread. Ok, so I said "leche" (milk), acted like I was shaking it vigorously and then acted like I was spreading it on bread. They took me to the individually packaged pudding and jello section. Finally someone realized that this gringo might want to put butter on his bread and directed me to the appropriate area.
Next I wanted to locate jelly. I figured we had exhausted the things that were possible to spread on bread, so I acted out spreading jam on my "pan" again and the lady took me back to the bread section. I then said "frutas" and pointed at the pretend bread and she understood what I mean. She took me to the jelly section where I located the strawberry jelly and headed to the checkout.
The same lady who had helped me went around to ring me up. She wasn't happy with the butter I had been given and took it back to exchange for another. As I was leaving I think she said that I would learn Spanish quickly. Either that or she told me that I had better learn Spanish "pronto!"
Anyway on the way home I felt proud of myself. Not because of my mastery of Spanish but because of my ever increasing skill at charades. The nice thing about charades is that it should work in any country, so after a few months here I should be able to travel anywhere in the world and buy jelly and butter with ease.