A Linguistic Mount Everest

Well, I know my Spanish is getting better because I seem to be unaware when I am speaking it, instead of ingles.

A couple of months ago we formed a new Spanish company, in anticipation of opening our business this year. I wanted to be able to kick everything into high gear the first week in January. And it is very good I did.

We will have construction happening on the farm in earnest starting in the next few weeks. And we are heading to Barcelona soon to meet with our food truck manufacturer to finalize everything. And all of that must come out of a business bank account. But I couldn’t open one until I got the certificate for the sociedad (company), certifying it is registered with the Spanish Treasury. And I couldn’t get that until after January 1st because we wanted to activate it in the year we will actually be doing business and have income. And this must be done in front of a notaria. Lots of fun.

Notaries control all contracts in Spain. You do almost nothing without a notary, and twenty seven forms of ID. Everyone seems to have a personal notaria. When we have performed transactions in the past that required a notaria, and they ask who our notaria is, and we give them a blank stare, people are confused. You should have a notaria, with whom you develop a lifelong relationship. Abogados are lawyers who will advise you on the law. They will argue in court on your behalf. But even they have notarias for contracts.

This morning, we were at the accountants offices and he asked me a bunch of questions about invoicing, etc. My accounting español is coming along. He was speaking Spanish and I was interpreting out loud for Jeff. The woman in the office who usually performs this function for us told me that soon I will not need her. We can only hope.

‘Now, I have heard you have already started building.’ He told us.

Jeff and I looked at each other, confused. We are still getting permits, etc. Building has not yet begun, and I asked him how he knew what we were doing.

‘I know the guys at xyz construction. I thought you had started before the sociedad was activated’

Jeff laughed. This is life in a very small town in Spain. Everyone knows everyone’s business. Do not put a foot wrong. There are things you will never come back from. Just ask The Scoundrel. We already knew this. But it was a good reminder.

‘No.’ I told him. ‘We have been waiting to pull the trigger until after January 1st. As you advised’

‘Vale.’

If you remember, I had been dancing the banking tango with a banker in Melide. And he won the first couple of rounds. Even for a new personal account, in anticipation of our new business account. It was a mess. But today we got the certificate for our new sociedad. And our accountant made a call on our behalf – to a different bank. We were instructed to go to the branch straight away. Which we did.

This banker was very nice, and did not require the reams of paper and documents that would have been required at the other bank, just our NIE cards. Our Accountant’s phone call had greased the skids. We just have to prove where the $$ comes from. They are very serious about this. Not a problem. But she spoke no ingles.

I whipped out Google Voice translation and started my questions by speaking into the microphone. I was a few sentences in when I realized the woman is staring at me with a funny look. Jeff taps me and breaks my train of thought.

‘What?’ I told him, frustrated. ‘Now I have to start over.’

‘No you don’t. You were already speaking Spanish into Google translate. Just say it to her like you just did to Google.’

I looked at my phone. Google was translating Español to Español. I realized in that moment that I actually knew what to say. So much of my issue with speaking Spanish is confidence. Trusting that I really do know it, then having the guts to just say it. Speaking in Spanish into Google translate was something I had done without thinking.

I felt foolish for a moment. But also, triumphant! I have had nightmares of standing in the food truck and being frozen, unable to communicate with my customers. Waking in a cold sweat. But now, I think it will all be OK. Yes, I have many more linguistic mountains to climb. But I just summited one of them, and the view from up here is just fine.

7 thoughts on “A Linguistic Mount Everest

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