It’s been 10 months since I landed here in San Pedro Sula, Honduras with two suitcases in hand and a receipt for a large box to be shipped via UPS for an as yet, undetermined amount of time and I’m often lost in translation.
In that time I’ve been to the town of Copán Ruinas 4 times, have visited beautiful colonial towns, have floated in the waves of the Caribbean countless times and have eaten more corn tortillas, rice and beans than I’ve eaten in my entire life.
It’s all been fabulous. Work is going well and although expat life is met with trials and tribulations, it’s to be expected and frankly, what makes living in a foreign culture so captivating and difficult to break away from.
I’ve got nothing to complain about. I’m feeling very lucky. My living arrangements are nothing I’d ever be able to experience at home in the US and as always, as an expat, I’ve had experiences, good and bad, I’d never had have in my hometown of Reston, Virginia.
No, living in the 2nd largest city in Honduras, is not always a cake-walk, but I shake off the less-than-fun times and some moments are met with growls of frustration of yelps of horror, but the moments of humor as with incidents such as you can read about below, make up for all of it. If you don’t get a good laugh out of this, you’re far too jaded and it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and take a trip to an unfamiliar culture, far from your familiar surroundings.
As I work to transform ThinRecipes into a site that makes more sense in the realm of the way I’m living now, I want to share an incident that had me doubled over in pain from laughing so hard with my colleagues a couple of months ago. This incident happened a couple of months ago, and I have played with the post on numerous occasions, but I’m ready to share it with you now. For those of you that have ever been lost in translation, I’d love to hear your story. Please feel free to comment.
Lost in Translation
I’m trying to learn Spanish. I try. I do. But necesito mucho ayuda — I need lots of help — getting my point across.
When I arrived at the office one morning and made the plea to help find a topical remedy like Benadryl or something similiar to help stop the incessant itching from dozens of bug bites I’ve been struggling with since a trip to the beach a couple of days before I decided it would be best to let Google help me rather than risk sending people all over town on a wild goose chase and showed the Benadryl website to the team so they would know what I was looking for. A Benadryl Itch Stick sounded heavenly, but if it wasn’t available here I’d be more than happy with cream and if that was not available I’d take a pill and fight the urge to sleep during the day. At this point I was open to ANY Benadryl relief I could get!
So off they went on the usual daily errands picking up a variety of items for the site. Later in the day I was presented with a small plastic bag from the pharmacy which contained a box and this small yellow tube of … something.
I held it in my hand like it was gold and handed over the money, like a junkie waiting for an overdue fix.
I tried it on a couple of bites and it was ok. Nothing immediate, but in a little while I wasn’t itching any longer. Wow! Was it the relief I’d been hoping for?
A little later there was still some itching, but I found if I kept myself occupied and moving around I could do ok so the jury wasn’t in yet.
When I got home and sat down to wait for my dinner to get done in the oven I settled in for a game of Draw Something with my sister and the itching began again. in ernest ACK! Nothing worked. I was about to resort to the baking soda and water remedy that offered a little relief the night before when the timer went off for my dinner so once again I was distracted and headed into the kitchen to plate up my meal.
The meal finished, dishes done, kitchen light off, it was time to head back to my sister and the next round of the best stick figure drawings I could muster. At about that time my friend Stephanie rang on Skype. She was aware of my mosquito struggles and we set out to learn what is in this yellow tube to see why it wasn’t working.
And that’s when hilarity ensued. From what we could find, this cheerful yellow tube contains the answer to Vaginal Fungus and Itch!! DIOS MIO! En serio?!
First thing in the morning I pulled my HR Manger aside and showed her the tube. I told her what Stephanie and I found and the laughter began again. She took the tube from my hand and looked at me, wide-eyed and a new round of laughs and confirmed that yes, the blurb on the back of the tube claims it is for vaginal itch.
What makes this particularly funny, is that the person who found and purchased this product to cure the insatiable mosquito bite itching for me is of the género masculino persuasion not the el sexo feminino variety. Gustavo is a great guy. We count on him for so much that happens with our facility and he keeps it looking and functioning well. He always has a smile when I see him, no matter what kind of heat or uncomfortable conditions he has to work within. His English has improved a lot since he first started working here and he always has a smile on his face.
Just please tell me Gustavo didn’t bother to take the time to read the package or I’ll never see his smile without wondering what he’s really thinking.