A while back my little brother got engaged. Weddings are an exciting time. As is traveling with your extended family. Armed with these two absolutes, the young couple decided to get married in Spain.
The logistics of traveling with a large family and making a wedding in a foreign country are complex to say the least. This was a crucial but unavoidable bit of information that we were destined to discover amongst the frantic festivities.
In our earlier years, before moving to the holy land, we had a nanny from Gautemala that spoke Spanish. She taught us useful words in Spanish like the names of food and how to count at least until 20. One of my sisters took a Spanish course in high school where she had learned some useful words and sayings.
I too took a Spanish course in high school and still remembered how to say some slightly less useful sentences such as, "me omigos ombligo" and "tu eres una chica linda". Both of which I felt could potentially come in handy depending on the situations we encountered while in Spain.
Feeling confident with our limited grasp of the language, there was only a mild amount of panic when my mother announced that we needed to buy salmon for dinner. My sisters and I were heading out to the mall so it made sense that we should pick up while we were out.
How hard could it be to find enough salmon to feed roughly 35 people?
Shopping at the mall went off without a hitch. Our international credit cards were warmly accepted. And being the humanitarian that I am, I did my part to help boost their economy.
We briefly checked out the fish selection at the grocery store in the mall and found it to be underwhelming. No worries, there were at least two other places that my mother had recommended we check.
The cars were loaded and we clambered in to head to the next stop. After a brief miscommunication, the two cars drove off in different directions. This miscommunication would later play a vital role in our quest for salmon.
Minutes later the car I was in arrived in front of a tiny kosher store while the second car ended up at a grocery store in a different mall. The tiny kosher store had no fish. I called my sister in the second car, the store at the mall did not have fish.
We were fish-less and running out of time. I tried to ask the man at the tiny kosher store where I could find fish. His English was about as good as my Spanish. Realizing that my Spanish skills were not up to the task, I settled for loudly repeating my request multiple times in English.
An unconventional yet surprisingly effective approach. The man somehow understood what we wanted and sent us to a supermarket down the block. The other car made similar progress and headed to another grocery store in search of the elusive salmon.
We struck gold on our end. There lying on a bed of ice, was an entire salmon. We rejoiced as we ran to the fish counter to try and explain that we needed enough salmon for 35 people. The man at the counter looked confused as we attempted to barter for our fish.
He pointed at the fish and assured us that it was one fish. Yes, one was good but we needed more.
Desperation began to sink in. It suddenly struck me that perhaps The Crazy Lady's ludicrous request for 35 portions of salmon may not come to fruition. I placed a frantic phone call to explain the situation. The Crazy Lady answered the phone with an aura of calmness. She remained calm as I explained our predicament and reduced the needed number of portions to 28 pieces of fish.
I passed the message along and my sister and brother in-law made a valiant effort to convey the amount of fish that we needed. Between the two of them they got the number of portions across and the man at the fish counter began to panic.
He did not have 28 fish for us. Which was fine, since we only needed 28 portions. He struggled to understand. We struggled to explain. Finally he put his foot down, he could not provide us with the absurd amount of fish that we required.
We looked at each other and collectively prayed for salvation. He must have seen the panic in our eyes because he kindly guided us to the pre-packaged pieces of salmon that he had cut up that very morning.
We thanked him profusely and grabbed nearly every tray of salmon that we found. This resulted in an entire shopping basket overflowing with fish. A spectacle that did not go unnoticed by the other shoppers in the store.
There was an elderly gentleman standing in front of us at the checkout line. He turned around to stare at our basket. Then chuckled and remarked "came to Spain for the fishing, eh ?" as he gestured towards the piles of precariously perched fish. We nodded politely as we were once again hit with the absurdity of the situation.
In our panic to get to the store we had forgotten to bring shopping bags. Fortunately, Lori had noticed a display of cooler bags and grabbed one on the way to the register. Alas, the vast quantities of fish did not fit into the one cooler bag, but there was no turning back now. We had chosen our path and were determined to stick with it.
Everyone stopped to stare as we wrestled almost all of the fish into the bag save for three trays or so. Then, with all of the grace and dignity we could muster, we grabbed the bag and remaining trays of fish and made a run for it.
We made it back to the vila right on schedule where we were heraled as heroes for saving supper.