Entre Disfrutar Y Compartir

(reposted from my Cuba blog).

Slightly over a year ago, I was sitting at a restaurant next to a busy, noisy intersection with David, near El Poblado Metro station in Medellín, Colombia. As we were ordering food, I was debating whether or not to get the Bandeja Paisa, a large, gluttonous dish that includes such light fare as grilled steak, chicharrón (fried pork rind), red beans, rice, chorizo, eggs, an arepa, sweet fried plantains and a slice of avocado. It had been a long day with lots of walking, so I felt like I could probably handle it. On the other hand, I had had a fairly large breakfast (I had made breakfast burritos), and started doubting whether I could finish it - I don't like leaving any food on my plate. In certain cultures, it is a sign of weakness / disrespect / not being hungry. Nevertheless, when the pleasant-but-slightly-neurotic waitress came along, I went ahead and ordered it.

- Her: "Listo?"
- David: "Si, el _______." (I forgot what he ordered, though in all likelihood it was probably something girlish and frilly).
- Her: "Y por usted?"
- Me: "Si, la bandeja paisa, por favor - qué incluye?"
- Her: "[Long list of food items]. Es muchissimo!"
- Me: "No hay problema - podemos disfrutarlo."

She makes a strange quizzical smile, and then her giggly persona becomes even gigglier, as she smiles even wider and goes to the kitchen.

David looks at me with a puzzled expression. "Podemos disfrutarlo?"

- "Yeah, I told her we can share it since it's lots of food." I take a swig of my lemonade.
- "Dude, disfrutar doesn't mean share, it means enjoy."
- "No, you're wrong. Disfrutar means share. I've been using it for years." Another swig of lemonade.
- "No man, seriously - compartir is share. Disfrutar means enjoy. You just told her that you and I can "enjoy" the food together."
- Me: "Nahhhhh..." ... blank stare into the distance as I start to think back to all the time in my travels when I used disfrutar instead of compartir...

Cuba 2005

  • Waiting for a taxi at José Martí International Airport, to a cute girl: "Would you like to enjoy a taxi together?" (Editor's note: This turned out better than one might expect).
  • Sitting down for dinner with a very warm and welcoming family in Trinidad de Cuba, to the father: "I'm really honored to enjoy everything with you and your children."
  • At a small roadside restaurant near Cienfuegos with a Cuban buddy, to the owner: "We're going to take one entree and enjoy it."

Mexico 2006

  • To my Mexican then-girlfriend at a fancy club with all her friends: "Instead of buying drinks, wouldn't it make more sense if we just bought a bottle and enjoyed it?"
  • In Querétaro, to an elderly couple in the town square: "Do you mind if I enjoy this bench with you?"
  • In Mexico City to my ex-girlfriend's mother: "That's a great story! Do you have any others you can enjoy with me?"

Colombia 2007

  • Writing to a girl I was meeting up with for coffee: "We can head to a café and enjoy a table together."
  • Speaking over the phone to a famous medical researcher in Bogotá, setting up an interview: "I really appreciate you taking the time to let us come and enjoy in your experiences."
  • The above-mentioned restaurant.

There are many more incidents like these I'm leaving out here, either because they're not that interesting, I don't remember them, or I'd rather not speak about them.

I'm not sure how or when this confusion happened. I think it may have been during one of my first formal Spanish lessons somewhere around 2004. Either my teacher was wrong (highly unlikely), I heard / understood / read something the wrong way and it stuck (most probable) or my teacher was just fucking with me (quite possible).

Either way, the lesson here is clear: Spanish is a beautiful, beautiful language - except when it's being spoken by me.


Monday, February 23rd, 2009
oso's picture

Man, I'm still laughing. Though my version is that we were up on that rooftop restaurant with M and B when you insisted, despite the waitress' clear confusion, that we could all enjoy your order.

And I thought that the neurotic waitress in Poblado was neurotic over your big beefy biceps, but she stayed neurotic after you left so I guess that means that my big beefy biceps made her act that way.

Monday, February 23rd, 2009
elizita's picture

Que risa! Me mataron con esa... ya sabia, ya me lo habias contado por parte... pero leerlo de nuevo aqui... Cheverre! Pura risa histerica... imaginandote... y la cara de Oso... seriosamente... debe valer oro. lolll

Pura Vida Esteban... que te vaya bien...
Y no dejes el espanol de un lado.. ya que sabes bien que somos nosotras las latinas y latinofilias quienes mas te quieren! ;0) no crees!


Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
elizita's picture

Be weary Oso... snow shovelling does build muscles no other sports can... and winter has been quite generous this year!


Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
stevenmansour's picture

Oso, you might be right. Now that I mention it, I remember that night too, although I wonder why I keep thinking back and remembering it with the neurotic Poblado waitress. Maybe I was too embarrassed with B and M there and blocked it out.

Man, that waitress was hella strange.

Elizita, gracias como siempre. :)

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
mir's picture

If it makes you feel any better you're a wee bit strange in English too...

- kidding... not really.

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009
Rethoryke's picture

The reverse sorts of errors happen also -- my father, when visiting his future in-laws [who did not speak Spanish], was asked if he needed anything more [food or drink], and he told his future mother-in-law not to molest herself.

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