Apr 26

Global Currency and a Chocolate Doughnut

by in Europe, Global Students

Money, no matter the currency, is a great motivator.  Just ask Sacagawea and Dundee. Conduct a meaningful transaction in another language, I proposed, and earn a euro each time.  Anything counts – buy something, ask directions, order in a restaurant, converse with the cabbie – anything but simple hellos, goodbyes, please and thank you.  (Figure you should do that automatically, no money required.)

Once in a while, an idea is inspired.  This was one of those ideas.  Transformed before me, two multi-cultural children emerged.  Haltingly at first, practicing repeatedly before leaping in, they took the bait.

Cadiz, Spain, on a sleepy Saturday morning, we pulled up a chair at a tiny café for tapas and people watching.  “Uno mas cola, por favore,”  Dundee asked (after numerous dry runs under his breath.)  “Si!”  cried the old guy who seemed to own the joint.  Voila! One more cold Coke plus an E ticket experience in communication.  Unleashed, he couldn’t be stopped.  Chatting up our waiters, ordering for all of us, paying the tab, and asking directions . . . it was his show, and he reveled in it.  As for me, I kicked back and enjoyed the ride, passing the reins to him, except for the occasional cerveza order, of course.

Second great motivator:  sibling rivalry.  Sunday morning found us in Almeria, a coastal Spanish port known more for trading than tourism.   Strolling the streets with local families pouring out of church,  Sacagawea spotted her prize – a chocolate-iced pastry that looked like a doughnut for the Jolly Green Giant — in a tiny side-street coffee shop.  We stepped inside, mingling with the young family at the bar and the old women with their pushcarts.  Standing at eye-level with the countertop, the matronly shopkeeper didn’t notice her at first.  Undaunted, she waited; finally, her moment came.  Reciting those words she’d practiced so carefully, she ordered.  Smiles, hand signals, pointing to the case, she and the shopkeeper made the choice, bagged it, and exchanged payment and change.  From the back corner, I watched, exchanging smiles with the old ladies taking in the red-headed little girlAlcazaba Fortress, Almeria Spain trying out her Spanish.

Chocolate fingers and mustache, she chomped triumphantly down the street, proclaiming it the best doughnut she’d ever eaten. Clearly, I’ll need to find another ATM and replenish the euro stash.

One Response to “Global Currency and a Chocolate Doughnut”

  1. From Fred Barnett:

    Great article in Inside Out Hawaii! I’m glad to see that the kids are getting such a fine & exciting education. ( & Don’t forget to practice.)
    Fred Barnett

    Posted on April 1, 2011 at 1:21 am #

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