Today I had my first conversation in Spanish. I noticed an illy sign in a place downstairs from the language school, so propped up the bar and ordered an espresso. The lady to my left started speaking to me. She asked where I was from; I told her. At first I thought maybe she was a plant - asking questions straight out of the textbook. Maybe she was just being sympathetic, who knows.
She told me she has a daughter who studies English, and proceeded to produce a picture from her purse. "Ah, muy linda," I politely remark. She points out that she looks like Gabriela Sabatini (she's kind of a big deal round here) and I agree - "si, su pelo es muy enrulado." She likes that. Not many gringos comment on your daughter's curly hair on their third day of speaking Spanish.
She clears off and I see her on her way with an encantado which I mean from the bottom of my heart. Meanwhile, the barista starts talking to me.
"Si. Soy Ingles, de Londres."
(Here we go)
"No, West Ham."
"Ah si si, West Ham"
(Eyes light up)
"Si. Carlitos Tevez. Muy, muy bueno."
And with that, I make another friend. I'll be back in my break every day for the next four weeks. And the coffee was excellent, which helps.
After class I head home and eat the calzone I made last night. It's not bad, but it precipitates a sudden and dramatic slump in my energy levels and I have no choice but to crash out. I come to an hour later, alarm screaming, utterly delirious. I take a Bond shower and head round the corner to get my pelo chopped. I do a bit of homework while I wait, and even manage to ask if they have a pen or pencil I can use.
In the chair, and the barber starts talking. I throw him the usual apologies, soy ingles, and he starts talking a bit slower (they speak machine gun quick in this city). I kind of understand him, too, and at times, am even able to express things that he comprehends. And amidst all the excitement of my haircut, we hold what a generous person might just about manage to call a conversation. In the excitement, I forget to tip him. I think I'll just wait till next time and tip him double. I might even be able to explain myself by then.