East is Este, West is Oeste

From the annual meeting of the North American Primary Care Research Group in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico:

Many Spanish words should be intuitive to someone with good verbal skills. But not always.

When traveling and renting a car in a place where you don’t speak the language, review a few basics. I left the rental car place looking for a road called 26 east. I saw a sign for “26 oeste.”  Based on logic from my limited high school French (oeuf means egg, and egg starts with e) I thought that must be east. But after driving west until the road basically dead-ended in the old downtown part of San Juan, I stopped at a McDonalds to ask for directions. The employees there gave me that look that you give someone who appears pathetic, and went in the back and found the one woman french fry cook who spoke marginal English. She gave me the idea that I might be going the wrong way. Fortunately, there aren’t that many main roads to choose from, so once I went the other way and saw signs for “26 ESTE” I was able to get to my hotel.

Take home message 1: Know the words for north/south/east/west.

Take home message 2: When in doubt, go to McDonalds. (note: I have no financial conflicts with McDonalds to disclose.)

-Heidi Splete

view from the Gran Melia Resort

view from the Gran Melia Resort

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