The Eyebrow Saga

The thing about Vigo is that you really need to know Spanish to get anything done, while in Madrid or Barcelona you may be able to get by with English Vigo it’s your choice between Spanish or Galician. Those are your choices. Thus, this can sometimes makes the simple things in life, like getting your eyebrows done, a bit difficult.

When I first arrived here I made a Spanish friend that lived next door and kind of became her shadow. One weekend when I was following her around she asked me if I wanted to go and get my eyebrows done. Sure! was my first thought because when I get to a new city I always try and find a good place to get them done. So we embarked on what has now come to be known as the eyebrow saga.

First time I was berated, in Spanish, for waxing my eyebrows for well about as long as I can remember… Then I was told that I needed to let my eyebrows grow out so she could fix the years of horribleness I had bestowed upon them.

So I started to let them grow out. I had once seen an Opera episode where Opera hired this eyebrow guru to fix these women’s eyebrows and how to shape them and all that and I thought, ‘Hey! Look at that I don’t have to be on Opera to get the perfect eyebrow.” I pretended that if I wore my glasses no one could see my eyebrows. They grew and grew until finally I could take it no more and I went back. But it was Monday and they are closed on Mondays. It took a few Mondays for me to remember this.

On Tuesday I went again on my way to tutoring but with the number of people waiting I didn’t even walk in I turned around and left.

That Friday they were super crowded, again.

On Monday I went and they were closed again, obviously.

I let it go for a week and then decided I really needed to get them done. I went on Friday after coffee with the girls. I thought in my head about all the possible things I have to say. Hi is Mariel here, can she do my eyebrows? Is Mariel working today? When does she work next? Thanks. I thought this would suffice. But then I got there and asked for Mariel. Mariel was on lunch. I hadn’t thought of a response to this. I couldn’t seem to spit out “When does she come back? Or how much longer? Or okay thanks then I’ll come back tomorrow. So I stuttered and ultimately decided on Vale, gracias, ciao.

The next week I was a bit busy so Friday rolled around again and I was determined to get my eyebrows done. I went before coffee to put my name on the list. When I walked in and asked for Mariel the women looked confused.


“No, Mariel?”


“Espera.” (Wait.) I had a card in my bag with Mariel’s name written on it and as I went to grab it the women I had been talking to starting screaming over me. “I have a foreigner here and I can’t understand who she is asking for!” Listen lady, I have understood everything you just said, I have said the correct name three times and you refuse to try and understand my Spanish. It you want to play that game lets talk English and see how that works out. So this other women came over, the one I’d had a few conversations with at this point and spoke Spanish to me, because that’s how they handle foreigners here, they just speak Spanish until you figure it out. She told me to wait a minute and I stood there. Then I realized she might have meant a Spanish minute and not a normal minute so I sat down on the bench and pulled out my book which happened to be a Geranimo Stilton book. For those who don’t know Geronimo Stilton is a rat that has written a series of children’s books about his adventures. So there I sat in this swanky, high-end pelicularia (hairdresser) and waited. I got a few looks for reading my book but I didn’t care.

Finally the planets had aligned and she was there and I was able to come back at “uno y cuarto.” (1:15), or so I thought.

I went back at 1:15, running through the door to make sure I was there on time only to be met by my lovely friend, the secretary, who just stood there shaking her head.

“Pero uno y cuarto, no?” I asked (But 1:15, right?)

She continued to shake her head.

“Uno MENOS cuarto.” She said emphasizing the menos as if she just wanted to rub it in some more. I shook my head.

“Menos?! Ay dios mio.” I was so ready to get my eyebrows down but again I had struck out. I got a sympathetic speech on how it’s hard to do time in other languages and I just gave a small nod.

“Y mañana? Mariel trabaja?” (And tomorrow, does she work?)

“Si claro, puedes llamar… Puedes llamar?” She answered as if I should have known that already. (Yes, of course, you can call. Can you call?”)

“Si! Vale me voy.” I said yes but I really meant no, the thought of making a telephone call in Spanish terrified me. I hate making phone calls in English yet along Spanish.

On Saturday I came prepared. I walked in armed with a book and ready to wait however long it would take to get my eyebrows done. My friend at the desk saw me and I was greeted with a smile and “venga” (Come). I followed her and went to talk to Mariel. At last! After they talked about me I was ushered into another chair. I pulled out my book but by the time I opened it she was already at my side ready to do my eyebrows. She was very pleased to see how long they had gotten and went away plucking each and every hair she wanted gone.

When I was paying I was talking to the same woman that had helped me through this debacle. She said “You did it.” and I said “Finalmente!” (finally!). She then whispered under her breath “al fin.” She couldn’t even let me have that one win.

Nonetheless, my eyebrows look great.

A few days later, on Ally’s last day, she wanted to get her eyebrows done and since we had been running errands I went with her. She went to a different place, walked right in and got them done. One her first try. Oh. And she paid a third of the price.

Esa es mi viva.

(This is my life.)


Not LiT (Lost in Translation), But Definitely Lost:

So today I decided to take full advantage of the Au Pair life schedule and go to the beach all morning(which goes until ~3pm in Spain). I spent the day reading and laying in the sun but before I left I wanted to splash my feet around in the water a bit. So I got dressed, packed up my camp, and walked to the water’s edge. As I was splashing my feet around and testing to see how far I could walk in without getting drenched a woman that was walking along the beach saw me and her face lit up and she instantly heading towards me.

Hola chica!” (Hey girl!), she said as she waked towards me. From the slight distance I thought she was a woman from one of my surf classes but as she got closer I realized she most definitely was not but before I could look at her face again to try and place it she was giving me the typical Spanish two kisses- one on each cheek. She started off by telling me how long it’s been since she saw me and how I was and if I like it here and Vigo and then asking if I was the English or German girl.

I had my first clue! So I had obviously met this woman somewhere while I had been speaking English most likely with Leni, my frequent partner in crime, who is Austrian – definitely not German. I put this in the back of my mind and answered that I was English, now yes, I am a proud American (though I will admit I’ve tried to deny it once or twice before-usually when a group of obnoxious Americans are making fools of themselves), but considering I still had no idea who this woman was and for the sake of using fewer words I just said I was English.

At which point she proceeded to ask if I had a boyfriend in Spain and then why I didn’t have a boyfriend- mind you this woman’s face is still ringing no bells. I mean I know I’m forgetful, and terrible with birthdays and names but faces I’m usually good with. Nada. If someone had put a check for $1 million behind her head the smallest bell would not have rung.

I continued to try and place her face, talking in my head in English – which was rather distracting- while replying to her rapid-fire personal questions in Spanish.

Cuatos años tienes? (How old are you?)

22 – What’s it to you?

Tienes un novio aqui? (Do you have a boyfriend here?)

No, no tengo un novio. (No I don’t have a boyfriend.)

Porque no tienes un novio en Vigo? (Why don’t you have a boyfriend in Vigo?)

*No time to answer. – Um because Vigo is tiny and so are the men, have you seen them? I         tower over most of them at 5’2 (~157cm).

Tienes un novio en Inglaterra? (Do you have a boyfriend in England?)

No. – I JUST said I don’t have a boyfriend…

Donde vives en Inglaterra? (Where do you live in England?)

*No time to answer. – Funny you should ask…

En Londres? (In London?)

Now this is where the fun started because I wasn’t actually from London. But I said yes. Why? Because before I could get out “No I’m from New York, the better city of the two, because I’m American, not British” she was already going on and on about London and how she lived there for two years at which point I thought “Then WHY are we speaking Spanish?!” But I digress.

After telling her I don’t live in London but I went to university there she then tried to tell me that the beaches are good in England. Say WHAT?! This woman was obviously crazy, I still couldn’t place her face, and I needed to leave. So I went to say “me voy” (I’m going) but she beat me to it. Saying goodbye and giving me two more kisses before I could say anything, in English or Spanish, and off she went. I just stood there. Feeling naked. When the fact is I had been the one fully dressed while she, on the other hand, was not. Have I mentioned that in Spain it’s common for women to go topless at beaches? Yeaahhhh…

The First of Many LiT (Lost in Translation) Stories:

The CrossFit Catastrophe:

When talking about this story the other day one of my friends told me “I almost peed on the beach when you told me that story.” Since it had such a great reaction I’m going to try and do it justice again. It happened a bit back so here it goes.

When I got to Vigo I became a bit of a gym rat, trying to get back in shape and hanging out with one of my new Spanish friends. Somehow I let her talk me into going to a CrossFit. I must admit I did love it, it brought me right back to the countless circuits I pushed myself through alongside my teammates throughout four years of rowing. I was hooked!

When I went with my friend she was able to translate for me but for the most part I could figure things out because our awesome team leader always demonstrated the exercises.  I even managed to make a Spanish friend in the class that was my age. So for the most part I was covered, until today.

I showed up about five minutes late and found out that the CrossFit class was taking place in a new room today so I ran down to the “room” which was actually a storefront (my gym is in a mall) that has been bought by the gym. I then had to stand and wait for the gate to open, so much for my sneak in at the back plan.

The class was already in full swing. They were running around in circles and I noticed the all seemed to be wearing costumes? Carnival had been the previous week so I didn’t quit understand why they were wearing costumes but after looking around the room again and – ufh! The last thing they screamed out must have meant, “switch directions” because I now found myself face to face with another runner. I continued to run, a little bit slower and closer to the outside of the group to give myself time to see what other people were doing rather than being able to understand the commands being yelled.

We stopped again and now everyone was squatting against the walls holding their arms out as the energizer bunny trainer decided to jump from lap to lap just for shits and giggles. After standing up and regaining blood flow in my legs the two instructors started yelling commands again trying to get everyone pumped up. I was definitely getting pumped up but I think it was more adrenaline from that fact that neither of my Spanish speaking friends were there and I was now officially left to my own demise with these crazy intense Spanish speaking Crossfit-ers. As the horror continued we were being told to split into teams. I had no friends there so which team I was on made no difference but three girls who are always at class gravitated towards one group and I decided they knew something I didn’t so I went with them.

As we now stood in two different groups the directions continued, of which I understood very little. For some reason today they decided not to demonstrate the exercises, just explain them. Great. Out of the description I understood two key words: “Flexiones” and “compañeros”   (pushups and partners). Okay so I figured I got this I just have to find a partner without talking and then I assume they are going to hold my feet while I do pushups. Simple. We lined up with my team’s group of partners opposite the other team’s groups of partner. Lucky me,I got to go down on the floor first. I followed suit and started to do pushups with my feet high in the air. Only after about two pushups did I realize I had missed a key point; after each pushup we were supposed to high five the person across from us with the opposite hand. So I decided to catch up, which was impossible because I was putting the wrong hand up. Finally, I decided to focus on the pushups rather than the dirty looks from the guy across from me and finished. Oh and when you finished you had to get up and run to the other team’s “wall” which was made out of step up blocks. On the last try my partner tripped and hurt her ankle. I just kind of sat there and did normal pushups because I had no idea how to ask if she wanted to continue or what I should do instead. Then the new hot instructor for today decided to grab my ankles and hoist me up. Thank god I had shaved.

As our instructors proceed to explain the next challenge in our fabulous competition. I was too focused on the fact that I just made a fool out of myself to comprehend what he was saying. All I saw was one instructor walking back and forth and he just kept saying “despacio” (slowly) over and over again. My partner came over to me, said something about how this girl would be better for me and scurried off. Better for what? I was so confused as I stood on my one step block behind this new taller and lankier girl. Then things got more interesting when people started putting blindfolds on. By the time it clicked what I was about to do my parent had her blindfold on and was braced. I had to mount her. I had to climb on this blindfolded stranger and tell her how to get to the other side as the other team’s blindfolded pairs came charging towards us. In Spanish. The whistles blew and I jumped on. The second I was on her back all Spanish words left my brain. She was walking slowly and I became extremely self-conscious thinking I was too heavy for her to carry me but then I realized there was no time to be self-conscious I had two sets of blindfolded piggy-backed sets of partners heading straight towards me and the words “derecha” and  “izquierda” (right and left) had left the brain! I couldn’t figure out why she was moving so slowly and then I remembered it’s because I need to tell her where to go! I just repeated “al recto” (straight ahead) over and over again and let the other two piggy-backers worry about going around us. We made it safely to the other side, I said “para” (stop) and dismounted. Definitely some of the longest three minutes of my life, but we weren’t finished. It was her turn to get on my back. Now I understood why my partner left me, it wasn’t because I wasn’t cool enough for her but it was the fact that if I had to carry her on my back I would have splatted to the floor like Zazu under the rhino after Simba finishes singing “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” (to refresh your memory No offense to her, just the fact being even if I was carrying her on my back she was so much taller than me she still would have been able to walk on her own feet, or maybe even knees. She was that tall. Needless to say I cheated. Out of fear that I wouldn’t be able to understand my directions and determining that cheating was far superior to risking it, crashing into people, causing harm, and being asked if I was okay in Spanish I positioned my blindfold so that I could see through it. We made it to the other side! But this time my fabulous instructor decided we should now tell our partners not only to stop but also to spin around and put us down. Yeah okay buddy!  I can’t say right and left and you want me to say turn around! Not going to happen. We made it. We survived. I thought my torture was over. But no.

They continued to explain the next task with a smile across their faces that definitely worried me. No good was going to come from those smiles. Only special forms of torture accompany that smile. Still having no idea what our task was my team decided to discuss tactics. I totally came up with the best plan 😉 . Still clueless about what was about to happen my team sat down in the corner behind our “wall” in the fetal position. I followed suit. Then I looked at the other team and saw they weren’t sitting down, in fact they we jumping up and down as if they were preparing to run a marathon or sprint somewhere. One of the guys was stretching his arm across his chest when the whistle blew and the other team came charging towards us. I don’t think I fully understood what was about to be done until I was midair between two men being carried across the room like a heavy sack of dog food. My other teammates joined me. Then it was our turn to carry the other team over. I wanted to melt into a puddle of sweat. The other team was predominately men, and not just men but abnormally tall men, for Spain, with muscles. My partner and I went to grab the only girl on the team and managed to carry her across and pretended to help the other guys on our team bring the rest of the team over.

After that we finished. Though my team didn’t win I wanted to do a victory dance around the room for surviving. I sprinted upstairs to go to yoga class. It was only after yoga that I realized I forgot my keys in the new room. It was great trying to watch me explain to the woman at the front desk that I forgot my keys and that I had no idea what locker number I was. I couldn’t have gotten out of the gym faster after my shower.

Side note, the girl that I had to carry on my back ran the 10k I ran this past weekend. I beat her. I beat her by a lot. 😀