Thursday, January 14, 2010

Friends learning Croatian at a Cafe



"And the rooster goes Cockadoodle Doo!," exclaimed Peter.

We all spoke English well, with the exception of Clementino who insisted we speak only in CROATIAN--after all, it was in taking our Croatian class that we met one another. And we were all living in Croatia yet didn't speak the Croatian language.

One evening after class a few of my classmates and I decided it was time we got acquainted. We agreed to have coffee at the Cafe Luxor, an Egyptian-themed Italian restaurant located inside the Diocletian Palace. The cafe was luxurious and from the moment we stepped inside, we were embraced by the friendly waitress and consumed by the warmth of the cafe's atmosphere. She took our coats and offered us a table, "I will give you a few moments to look through the menu," she said in a polite and sweet tone. We looked around at the intoxicating interior design. Directly above us was a ceiling that resembled a small portion of the Sistine Chapel with angels floating on white fluffy clouds. "I wished I had my camera," I thought. A big black piano sat in the corner of the restaurant as someone wooed us with Italian music.

Our after-class meet up was very international: Peter was Canadian, Clementino was from Italy while his girlfriend Visnja, was Croatian. John was American--from New York--and me, well, from Mexico. Quite a diverse group, right?

We ordered drinks and began a conversation in English but Clementino interrupted, "Govori Hrvatski Jesik. Speak Croatian!" Easier said than done and I could see it by the expression on every one's face that I wasn't the only one who was worried. This was only our 3rd class. I wondered how to say, "This place is lovely." But I was lost in translation. We all stared at one another for what seemed like an eternity with no one saying a word. Silence. Then we heard, "So Peter how are you adjusting to life here in Split?," Visnja asked.

"Well, I really like the city...," Peter answered, but he was quickly interrupted by Clementino who again shouted, "GOVORI HRVATSKI!" And after several more minutes of awkward silence, the strangest thing occurred.

John: What's the sound of a dog, in Croatian?
Visnja: Vau-Vau
Peter: How about in Spanish?
Me: Guau-Guau
Clementino: Bau-Bau

This was fun. Adults at a cafe in Croatia making animal sounds over coffee. Then I got the question-asking bug and got in on the fun. "What about a rooster?," I asked. Everyone got a cheerful glee in their eyes and took turns.

Visnja: Cucu-riku
Peter: cockadoodle- doo
Me: Kiki-ri-ki
Clementino: Keek-a-ree -kee

We roared with laughter as we exchanged other animal sounds. People at the cafe thought we were crazy and we gave them reason when we began to sing Old Macdonald with each of us sounding out animal sounds in our native tongue. It went a little something like this:

Old MacDonald had a farm, Ee i ee i oh!
And on that farm he had some dogs, Ee i ee i oh!
With a woof-woof here and a vau-vau there,
here a guau, there a bau, Everywhere a guau-guau.
Old MacDonald had a farm, Ee i ee i oh!

It was an exciting and fun evening although the natives thought we were intoxicated. But we didn't want to stir trouble since we wanted to return to this cafe. We said good-night and good-bye and promised to do this again--minus the animal sounds but we couldn't make any concrete promises. So the next time you encounter someone who doesn't understand English very well, and you need to communicate with them, try animal sounds, it works every time! I'm not sure how that will work out in an emergency, but it'll be fun finding out!

What silly things have you and your friends done while in public?

12 comments:

  1. too funny!-cris

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  2. Cris, yes we had a fun time..Brought out the child in all of us!
    Thanks for commenting!

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  3. this is the best post ever! you give Elizabeth Gilbert a run for her money! I love the imagery that you create.

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  4. funny and cool.. I believ in Hungarian a rooster goes koo koo ri koo lol

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  5. Nando you really think so? What a nice compliment,thanks!

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  6. Dave, That is cool Now I can add one more language phrase to our song!

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  7. ha - this is cute. Living in Croatia sounds like a dream.

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  8. Croatian's daugther in low!!!??? I'm glad to see your! Croatia here... ;-)

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  9. @passport in my pocket,
    It's quite an adventure! The most difficult yet fun language I've encountered.

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  10. Hey thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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  11. I was amazed when I moved to Finland to realise that each language says the animal sounds differently - i know, daft, but I'd never really thought about it before.

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  12. Nice blog. I spent a month or so in Croatia back in 2005 and loved it. Your posts have brought back some wonderful memories.

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Thank you for your comments!

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