Wednesday, November 4, 2009

can you tell me how to get to ocho center?

So. One of the more frustrating types of conversations I have here in the DR are ones where someone tells me something in Spanish, and I understand it all except ONE WORD. I ask them to repeat the word or define the word. Instead, they bring over someone who "speaks English" to explain it to me because I "don't speak Spanish." Except this person just repeats the same word to me. Right now, for instance, I'm sitting here monitoring the computer lab. Occasionally people ask me questions about how to use the Internet or try to trick me into doing their homework for them.

A young man walks up to me, hands me a pencil and piece of paper upon which is written, "September 11, 2001. Osama Bin Laden." He says, "Escribame Ocho Center." (Write for me "Ocho Center".)

I say, "Ocho Center?"

"Ocho center."

"What is Ocho Center?"

"You know... Ocho Center. Osama Bin Laden... it's like the White House."

"The White House?"

"But instead of the White House, it's Ocho Center. Osama bin Laden lived there."

"Ocho Center."

"Ohhh, you don't understand. Let me get my friend."

So the friend comes over and says, in English, "He wants for you to write down the words 'Ocho Center.'"

By this point I am losing it and cracking up, and my friend Rachel comes in.

Me: "Rachel! I don't know what they are talking about. They want me to write something about Ocho Center. He's got this paper... it's something to do with Osama bin Laden I think."

Rachel: "What's Ocho Center?"
Two Dudes: "Ocho Center!! Exactly!! Renata doesn't understand Ocho Center and we want you to write it down!"
Rachel: I don't know what Ocho Center is either.
Dude 1: Osama bin Laden!
Dude 2: It's like the White House.
Rachel: You want me to write down White House?
Rachel: ... Barack Obama?
Dude 2: It's the building that was destroyed on September 11. In New York.
Me and Rachel: ....
Rachel: The WORLD TRADE Center?
Dudes: Yes! Ocho Center! How do you spell it?

Oh my God. I was hyperventilating with laughter by the end of it.

(Also, yes, in retrospect, given "September 11" and "Osama bin Laden" and "Something Center" you'd think I would have been able to come up with "World Trade Center." But it was just bizarre. Also, the White House stuff kept throwing me off.)

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