Is it worse to refer to your Costa Rica landlord as a prostitute or worse to call your Panamanian host a cow? Would you rather die after you’ve explained to a group of Peruvians how to cook potatoes in urine or after you’re wrongly-translated “Seize the Day” speech to the Argentinian became a sexual invitation? No, wait. Maybe miming that you need vaginal infection cream in Cambodians more God-take-me-away-now than being cursed out for laughing when that truck driver told Kobi his grandmother just died? And which do you wish you could take back more: the Latin American YouTube video where you refer to his curls as mattresses or Vietnamese one where you explain what you tried to say before you got spit on? Hmmm…
It’s a tough world out there when you waltz around with an inflated ego that allures you to foolish believe, again, that you can speak multiple languages. It stings you in the ass, right where you deserve it, when you make a total fool of yourself and need to put your tail between those legs and walk. away. slowly. I believe the only thing that has saved us from being thrown into come Asian prison, being lynched, or being slapped silly is that we look like total fools and laugh a lot. I think the laughter breaks the ice that otherwise would be offending people left and right. Oh, and having cute kids with great hair helps too.
Yeah, I think the great hair thing helps a lot. So does Kobi. He knows how to flirt with market ladies, how to hug men, how to do a little dance in the center of some square, or make jokes with people without a common tongue. I know how to hug people, smile with my heart on the outside, and be there. My kids, they know how to fidget, touch what they shouldn’t, get really close to people doing anything of interest, and becoming friends fast. They also know how to talk too loud, knock over people’s wares, and accept candy from strangers. (Where the hell are these kids parents? Who is responsible for these children?)
So, I was going to go into detail and tell you each adventure in painful detail, until you pee in your pants. I was. But the truth is, I don’t feel as funny as I did when I wrote the pee-in-your-pants-hysterical I Hate Missionaries or as drugged (which I was not) as I did when I wrote Fuck, Fuck, Fuck. I also don’t feel as reflective and inspired as I did with I Know Nothing And 99 Other Things The Road Has Taught Me. So, I will say this.
It’s hysterically funny, always after the fact, and often during, when you make a total ass of yourself. In that moment when the Argentinian enlightened me that my chosen translation of ‘seize’ into ‘coger’ is the word they use for sex, but not just any sex, more like grab that prostitute and ride her kind of sex, I , well, I almost died. When we explained that our Costa Rican landlord Sulema was wet and out in the rain all night beside the tree, for her name sounds a lot like the Hebrew word for ladder “sulam,” it didn’t win us many points. But, mistakes make great stories, and no one has held it against us too badly.
All travelers all over the world fall into these little moments. They all make awesome campfire stories later, all of them. Kobi’s got one below in which you will die, die, die how bad it is. I don’t think he will ever, ever (x 1000) live it down. He basically tried to sell, well PENIS, but didn’t know that at the time. Read it and the other friends that follow. You. Will. Die.
Kobi @ Lovely Travel- Penis For Sale: How Embarrassing Can It Be
Tracey @ Life Changing Year: Funniest Language Barrier Moments While Travelling!
Val @ This Way To Paradise: Lost In Translation-How My Spanish Almost Caused Me To Starve To Death
Tracey @ Expat Experiment – Travel and Eating Our Words
Jamie @ Great Big Scary World- Miscommunication: Naked Messages And Thinking I Am Going To Die
Got a funny miscommunication story? Died reading Kobi’s post? Think those I deeply insulted got offended in any way? Wanna tell me what you ate for breakfast? I just had a pineapple and a mango to the soft background of Koh Rong Island breezes. What was the last fruit you ate? Did you call it a fruit or rename it something awfully sexually promiscuous in some over-enthusiastic translation?
Did you know that you guys are actually, really helping us keep traveling. A remarkable new flood of YouTube subscribers have joined us, more and more are following our rss feed. Twitter, and in Facebook, and there is a steady stream of comments on our blog. These things directly fund our adventures and we can’t thank you enough for sharing our posts, reminding your friends to like us, for watching, and for leaving comments. You are changing our world and enabling us to keep traveling. Thank you friend.