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Entre Disfrutar Y Compartir | Monday, February 23rd, 2009

(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.