In Denmark we pride ourselves of knowing several languages - well we’re a small country, and we can’t really expect foreigners to learn Danish. So you’ll easily find someone who speaks English, German, French, Norwegian or Swedish.
However there’s a definite lack of people who know Spanish.
So before I went to Cuba, I took an evening course which proved to be the absolute minimum.
Here’s an example of why:
At a plaza in Havana I was approached by a guy who was invalid after a car accident. He started telling me - in Spanish about the Plaza, its history, the statues etc.
When he was through he made a few remarks on the low social pension in Cuba; so I gave him one CUC for telling me an interesting story and for guiding me around the Plaza.
A couple of days later I met him again, and this time he also wanted a CUC, but this time he hadn’t “delivered” anything to distance the CUC from begging, and as a matter of principle I don’t give to people that just act as beggars.
I tried to explain the difference - in Spanish, but he just kept going on about the one CUC.
So, in order to make him listen I pointed to my right ear several times and said - what I thought was “listen” in Spanish. But it seemed that the more intense I asked him to listen, the more agitated he got.
So I left. Only to find out a day later that in Spanish, “Entiendo” doesn’t mean to listen. It means to understand.
Now like most other homo sapiens, my ear is connected to my head; so what I in effect was saying, while pointing forcefully to my head (my ear) was:
Don’t you understand?
Don’t you get it?
Can’t you get it through your thick skull…?
No wonder he almost threw his crutches at me.