A Travellerspoint blog

August 2010

Useful Spanish Phrases for Travelers

A little bit is better than nada

Chichicastenango market by SChandler

Chichicastenango market by SChandler

So you've decided to add some flair to your travels and visit a Latin country. The sights, the sounds, the food, the local color....these are the things you're looking for. Unfortunately, you don't speak Spanish. This can be a major handicap when you need to use the bathroom, for example. Though holding your crotch with a pained look on your face and hopping up and down often conveys this message, wouldn't it be better to be able to "ask" where the facilities are located? I have been in many situations while traveling in Mexico and Panama that required the use of a few key words and phrases to get my point across to one of the locals, and that is why this blog can be helpful to you. Knowing how to order a meal, or a cold beer, or getting directions to the bus stop, train station, museum, or the hospital if necessary can make your trip more rewarding and enjoyable than you can imagine. And I have always found that locals tend to appreciate my meager efforts at trying to speak their language - that I cared enough about their country and their language to make the effort to communicate not in English.

Granted, I have taken years of Spanish classes, I have lived in Mexico, but if you don't continually practice speaking Spanish, the nuances of the tongue can be evasive. Today, my Spanish is very poor, because I haven't used it for so long. I tend to speak only in the present tense, because I can't remember the past tense or the pluperfect tense (c'mon, who ever remembers the pluperfect tense?) Nonetheless, I am able to make myself understood sufficiently that I get what I need. And do not, under any set of circumstances, EVER be afraid to try. No one cares that you can't recite Cervantes in the original. Pronunciation is over-rated, people KNOW that you don't speak their language. The key is that you are TRYING, and that's what counts. Just remember to speak clearly and with sincerity, and in a normal tone of voice. No one likes some tourist shouting at them. And if you get something wrong, so what? Try again. I once took a class with my father and sister in Mexico taught by a Jesuit priest. My father was trying to conjugate the verb caer, to fall. He was extremely proud that he knew the answer, so much so that he shouted out "Yo cago". The priest began blushing and giggling, because rather than saying "I fall", my father managed to say "I shit". This was quite amusing, though hardly correct. Generally, when you mispronounce something, people will smile and be amused, so don't be nervous about getting everything right the first time. It's alright to order in a restaurant "dos jueves y jabon" (2 Thursdays and soap), rather than "dos huevos y jamon" (2 eggs and ham). People will usually get a giggle and be more apt to help you.

So below is a short list of words and phrases that might just come in handy if you find yourself in Spain,Mexico, Central America or South America (except Brazil, where Portuguese is spoken - and I still can't figure that one out!!), or the Philippines, even Italy, because Spanish and Italian are very close. I must leave out accents on words because I haven't learned how to do that on my keyboard.
The Family Nuñez by kermibensharbs

The Family Nuñez by kermibensharbs

BASIC QUESTIONS

Where is... - Donde esta (doan-day eh-stah)
How much is it - Cuanto cuesta (kwan-toe kway-stah)
What is your name? - Como se llama (coh-moh say yah-mah)
Where are my shoes? - Donde estan mis zapatos (dohn-day eh-stahn mees sah-pah-tose)
Who's the blonde stranger (female)? - Quien es la estranjera rubia (key-en es la ehs-trahn-hair-ah roo-bee-ah) -
Who's the blonde stranger (male)? - Quien es la estranjero rubio (key-en es la ehs-trahn-hair-oh roo-bee-oh)
Hey, you never know.....

Generally, when you mispronounce something, people will smile and be amused, so don't be nervous about getting everything right the first time.

GETTING AROUND

Here - Aqui (ah-key)
There - Alli (ah-yee)
Everywhere - Por Dondequiera (pour dohn-day key-air-ah)
The Corner - Rincon (reen-cone)(corner of the room)
The Corner- Esquina (es-key-nah) (corner of the block)
Straight - Derecho (deh-ray-cho)
Right- Derecha (deh-ray-chah)
Left - Izquierda (ees-key-air-dah)
Ahead - Adelante (ah-day-lahn-tay)
Behind - Detras de (day-trahs day)
In(inside) - Adentro (ah-dent-row)
Out(outside) Afuera (ah-fwhere-ah)
Railroad - Ferrocarril (fair-oh-car-rill)
Train - Tren (Trehn)
Bus - Autobus (Ow-tow-boos)
Car - Coche (koh-chay)
Taxi - Taxi (this one is pretty universal)
Plane - Avion (ah-vee-own)
Airport - Aeropuerto (ay-air-oh-pwer-toe)
Station - Estacion (eh-stah-see-own)
Hotel - Hotel (oh-tell)
Hostel - Hostel (oh-stahl)
City - Cuidad (see-ooh-dahd)
Country - Pais (pahy-ees)
Store - Tienda (tee-en-dah)
Market - Mercado (mair-cah-doe)
Restaurant - Restaurante (res-tau-rahn-tay)
Bus stop- Parada (pah-rah-dah)

THE SIGHTS

The Museum - El Museo (el-moo-say-oh)
The Park - El Parque (el par-kay)
The Church - La Iglesia (lah ee-glay-see-ah)
The Library - La Bibliotheca (lah beeb-lee-oh-tay-kah)
A Monument - El Momunento (el mon-ooh-meant-oh)
The Aquarium - El Acuario (el ah-kwar-ee-oh)

all dressed up in Peru by Mavr8k

all dressed up in Peru by Mavr8k

EATING AND DRINKING

Beer - Cerveza (sair-vay-sah)
Wine - Vino (vee-no)
Water - Agua (ah-gwa)
Juice - Jugo (who-go)
Rum - Ron (rohn)
Milk - Leche (lay-chay)

Beef - Carne (sort of generalized for meat) - (car-nay)
Pork - Puerco (pwair-co)
Chicken - Pollo (poy-oh)
Duck - Pato (pah-toe)
Veal - Ternera (tair-nair-ah)
Guinea Pig - Conejillo de Indias (or Cuy in SA) (cone-ay-heel-yo day een-dee-ahs) (coo-ee)
Ham - Jamon (hah-moan)
Bacon - Tocino (toe-see-no)

Vegetables - Vegetales (veh-hay-tahl-ehs)
Carrot - Zanahoria (sahn-ah-ore-ee-ah)
Onion - Cebolla (say-boy-ah)
Potato - Patata (pah-tah-tah)
Beans (legumes) - Frijoles (free-hole-ehs)
Cabbage - Repollo (ray-poy-yo)
Tomato - Tomate (toe-mah-tay)

Fruit - Fruta (froo-tah)
Apple - Manzana (mahn-zah-nah)
Banana - Banana (you can get this one)
Large banana used for weapons or frying - Platano (plah-tah-no)
Grapes - Uva (ooh-vah)
Lemon - Limon (lee-moan)
Lime - Lima (lee-mah)
Melon - Melone (meh-loan-ay)
Nut - Nuez (noo-ezz)

Ice Cream - Helados (ay-lah-dose)
Chocolate - Chocolate (choak-oh-lah-tay)
Candy - Dulce (also means "sweet") ( Dool-say)

My dog has no nose - Mi perro no tiene nariz (mee pair-oh no tee-en-ay nahr-ees)
How does he smell? - Como huele? (koh-moh way-lay)
Terrible! - Terrible (tear-ee-blay)

BASIC NICETIES

Hello - Halo (ah-low)
Hello - Hola (Oh-lah)
Please - Por Favor (pour fah-vore)
Thank you - Gracias (grah-see-ahs)
You're Welcome - Por Nada (pour nah-dah)
Excuse Me - Disculpa Me (dis-cool-pah may)
Of Course! - Por Supuesto! (pore Soo-pweh-stow!)
Kiss - Beso (beh-so)
Hug - Abrazo (Ah-bratz-oh)

oaxaca signs by kreglicka

oaxaca signs by kreglicka

EMERGENCIES

Police - Policia (poh-lis-see-ah)
Hospital - Hospital (ose-pee-tahl)
Fire Department - Servicio de Bomberos (sair-vee-see-oh day bom-bear-ohs)
Embassy - Embajada (ehm-bah-hah-dah)

PHRASES

Where is the hotel (name) - Donde esta el hotel (doan-day eh-stah el oh-tell...)
My name is... - Me llamo (may yah-mo)(Literally "I'm called...")
This is a beautiful country - Este es un pais hermoso (eh-sta es oonah pie-ees air-moh-sah)
Where is the bathroom - Donde esta el baño (doan-day eh-stah el bahn-yo)
My dog has no nose - Mi perro no tiene nariz (mee pair-oh no tee-en-ay nahr-ees)
How does he smell - Como heule (koh-moh way-lay)
Terrible - Terrible (tear-ee-blay)
This is my stop - Esto es mi parada (Es-toe es me pah-rah-dah)
Help Me! - Socorro! (So-core -oh!) Ayudame! (Ay ooda may!)

A hearty smile and an effort to speak to someone in their own language without feeling foolish can make memories to cherish for a lifetime

las hot spring chicas by ggithens

las hot spring chicas by ggithens

This list is by no means complete, but it should give you a fair idea of really the most basic words and phrases that can make your travels so much easier and friendlier. A hearty smile and an effort to speak to someone in their own language without feeling foolish can make memories to cherish for a lifetime....or, if nothing else, some pretty good stories for your friends about how you asked the old woman in Santiago about your oral hygiene when you wanted to know if she had bananas for sale.

If you have other tips and tricks for your fellow travellers, then join us in educating travellers worldwide. To get started, send our editors an email at unravelled [at] travellerspoint [dot] com. Let them know a bit about yourself, and maybe include some writing samples and ideas for entries. They will review your submission and, if you fit the bill, they will welcome you to the team.

Posted by beerman 09:52 Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (8)

In Search of the Muse

A Bedtime Story

Call Me, by broden

Call Me, by broden

Disclaimer: Not every person who goes out seeking an adventure decides to "blog" about it. Okay, maybe they do with the number of travel bloggers out there these days. Regardless, this blog is design to help (traveling) bloggers be better (traveling) bloggers. Can't promise it will work, but giving it a shot just the same. I've got the time. I'm not traveling.

Once Upon A Time

Recently, my husband (the illustrious beerman) and I spent two days at a conference dedicated to blogging about travel. (Make that 3 days if you include the before, during and after parties - but that's another story for another day. Did I mention it was in New York City? That was cool! but I digress) .... The main thrust was on "making money from your travel blog". Some of it even pertained to "monetarily supporting your travels from your travel blog". Grand ideas. And they do work well for quite a few, but that's not why I'm writing this piece (as stated above). Instead, and for good reason, I'll be sharing the information that falls under the "one size fits all" category. Those tidbits that can be used by everyone. Hey, my mother taught me how to share equally so no one felt left out. So you only got 1/10th of a stick of gum - nine other kids got a piece too. Everybody was happy - mostly.

Hanging on the Telephone

It's good to hear your voice, you know it's been so long.
If I don't get your call then everything goes wrong.
I want to tell you something you've known all along.
Don't leave me hanging on the telephone.
---Blondie

I relate blogs to telephone conversations. Doesn't matter the genre or topic or what's said in them. They are a written phone call - pure and simple. So, whether you agree or disagree with that analogy, take a minute to think about the content of your own blog or someone else's - who's still hanging on the telephone?

I now read blogs for a living. I read a lot of them and most are travel-related in some form or another. (I think I know the best places to get drunk in Colombia. Maybe it was Panama. But, that's beside the point.) Those who begin a blog usually do so to inform everyone they know about what they (the traveler) have been up to over a certain period of time. It's "I woke up, went to breakfast, caught a cab, went here or there, etc". Or, it's "I woke up, crawled out of my tent, met with all of my hiking mates and we climbed Mount Kilimanjaro". That's not a bad thing. It's the phone call back home. But...
Public phone?, by beerman

Public phone?, by beerman

Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behind

No matter what, use your blog to tell your story. One that has a true beginning, middle and end to it.

The only people who will keep reading a blog dedicated to the 'me' aspect are your parents, sisters, brothers, best friends- and even they will stop reading after a certain period of time. Sorry, but it's true. They will still love you. They just won't read your entries. They will quickly check your blog site to view the latest one if you have a real phone call pre-arranged. Why? Because they don't want to sound 'uninformed' about the bad sushi and 10 trips to the toilet.

You may think I'm kidding about the 'they'll stop reading' thing, but I'm not. I Iove my family and friends enormously, but even I tune out when I haven't gotten a...

Bedtime Story

A blog, like the call, needs to keep one interested. The phone conversation may have two authors but there is still story-telling happening. If there isn't, you ultimately hang up. (Unless you talk to my best friend. Then there are endless hours - well, seconds into minutes - of dead air space. I just set the phone down.) No matter what, use your blog to tell your story. One that has a true beginning, middle and end to it.--Keep them hanging on the telephone by:

Discovering the Muse

Taken from Greek mythology, the word "muse" refers to a guiding spirit or source of inspiration. It also means to ponder or reflect on a situation, thought, object - any number of other things. In this instance, the sources of inspiration will be you (as author), your travels (the subject matter) and the blog itself. You have become the muse. Your blog entries the instruments from which your discoveries will be conveyed to others.

So, now you think you have tapped into your own guiding spirit and are ready to starting writing. Great! However, before you just start clanking away at the keyboard or putting real pen to paper, there are a few additional inspirational items to consider. A well-written bedtime story is also well thought out before being told. Take a few minutes to ponder the suggestions I have included below:

  • You've decided to start a blog. Consider your audience first: A) Will it be just family and friends? Or, B) will you be trying to reach a larger audience - one that encompasses complete strangers too? (Trust me, it's an important decision.)

Build your entry as an author would build their short story, essay or novel. Use humor, intrigue, mystery, whatever to build the story line

  • Whether you choose option A (family/friends) or B (larger audience), the 'Bedtime Story' is an essential component. In every good read, character development is essential. You may be the only character in a given entry but you need to make yourself interesting. If others are involved in your adventure, describe them. Here is where "the more the merrier" works well. Don't just say, "Jorge from Madrid joined us". Who the hell is Jorge? Why the hell did he join you? What's his problem, anyway? Tell us more.
  • Build a Story!- Build your entry as an author would build their short story, essay or novel. Use humor, intrigue, mystery, whatever to build the story line. Lead the reader up to the plot of your tale. Though not everyone's taste, one of my favorite examples is The Scams of David Viner, Part 1 The Encounter on Gibbering Madness. (I happen to love mysteries.) But, it's still a great example of keeping a reader involved.
  • Bring the story to a close. If your blog entry will not be a continuing saga then finish it. Let the reader know what has happened at the end but not by saying, "End of Day One". Either allude to the next entry or finish it completely. Think about how your favorite book ends and do the same with your blog entries.
  • Oh, the use of video - what a wonderful thing! Or some may think... Video is great filler but please realize that your audience is not necessarily equipped to handle a blog saturated with steaming vids. I know because I'm not. I may have the latest MacBook Pro but it's still crud if my internet connection is lousy. Video is not always the best option for portraying your activities. Nothing turns a viewer away faster than staring at a screen for 5 minutes while a single page loads.
  • Photographs: Part 1 - another wonderful thing! I love photographs! And, they work well when internet connections are shit. (See above comment.) Photos speak a thousand words. Use 'em! Again, as an editor, I'd prefer reading something loaded with photographs rather than videos. (And, again, it depends on your chosen audience.)
  • Photographs: Part 2 - USE YOUR OWN! Your worst photo will speak more about your travels than the best photo you find anywhere else. One must keep in mind that photos taken from flickr, picasa or any other storage area are not there free for the taking. (Same holds true for photos posted on Travellerspoint.) IF you choose to use someone else's work - ask for permission. Also, give credit where credit is due. (See the photo credits in this blog.)

Working a story by fnurgen

Working a story by fnurgen

Happily Ever After

I could pontificate all day, but I won't. I've covered the bare necessities of a good blog and will leave it at that. The keys to blogging come done to the same things in life. Think, look, listen and learn... Think about what you like and who your audience is first. Look at what you enjoy reading yourself. Listen to what others have to say about what they prefer. Learn from those things and you're blog will be a success.

Thank you to Blondie for the use of the lyrics to "Hanging On The Telephone"

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If you have other tips and tricks for your fellow travellers, then join us in educating travellers worldwide. To get started, send our editors an email at unravelled [at] travellerspoint [dot] com. Let them know a bit about yourself, and maybe include some writing samples and ideas for entries. They will review your submission and, if you fit the bill, they will welcome you to the team.

Posted by Isadora 11:37 Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (4)

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