La Palma is the fifth largest Canary island and one of much variety. From black sand and craters to the green and lush north, to crystal blue sea and quaint coves, to high cliffs and ravines. Accessible from the U.K via Gatwick, it’s not a popular holiday destination quite yet for us Brits, which allows it to keep some of its Canarian unique charm, and is a walker’s paradise.
I visited the island several years ago with my family and the experience has stayed with me for several reasons.
Being relatively untarnished by the Brit culture of fish and chips and karaoke bars meant that on the island the language barrier did often cause a problem. The residents of La Palma appeared to be more fluent in German than English, so it could be quite trying fun when going out to eat, especially when one of our companions has several dietary needs.
We’d spent the day out and travelled back down the winding mountain road, via the ‘weather tunnel’ towards our base in Los Cancajos, and stopped to get petrol. We were all ravenous and decided to go for a quick bite to eat in the nice cafe attached to the station. It served a variety of snacks like cheese and ham toasties, chips and tapas, and the menu had pictures but was written all in Spanish.
My husband and I chose a simple portion of Spanish omelette each with a side of fries and a cafe con leche, which we ordered with my rudimentary Spanish and by pointing at the pictures.
My M.I.L (mother-in-law) approached me and said: “Do you think they would do me a couple of eggs?”
I shrugged. “They might, but it’s not on the menu.”
“Do you know what egg is in Spanish?”
I frowned and stared off at the middle distance, scouring my brain for the correct word. I knew ‘pollo’ was chicken, but for the life of me I couldn’t think of ‘huevo’. So, I grimaced and said: ‘No, sorry.”
She returned to discuss what to do with my F.I.L, and my husband and I sorted our payment, grabbed our coffees and took a seat.
A few minutes later, after perusing the menu I heard my M.I.L say: “It doesn’t hurt to ask.” She approached the lady at the counter with my F.I.L shaking his head and said “Excuse me. Do you have eggs, please?”
The server looked baffled and looked my way . “Er pollo? Er egg?”
The server shook her head and smiled apologetically.
“You know, chicken? Baby chicken? Egg,” said my M.I.L.
“She doesn’t understand, mother,” my husband said in exasperation.
“Chicken. Egg,” she continued. Then bent her arms to her hips, bopped in a semi-crouch and waved her arms like she was attempting to take off. “Buark-buark,” she squawked.
Luckily the restaurant was empty, so only us three family members and the server stared on in disbelief, smiles creeping across our faces as she flapped around in a small circle.
Hiding a snort, I whipped out my phone, accessed Google and found a picture of an egg to show to the lady. “Ah, huevo. Si, si.” said the server, smiling.
“Yes, two please,” my M.I.L said, straightening.
“Er, dos,” I said.
“Si,” the server turned and got to work with our food.
“Got there in the end,” said my M.I.L smiling as she sat back down opposite us.
“Unbelievable,” my husband said, shaking his head.
“Well, if you don’t ask you don’t know.” She crossed her arms and we all laughed.
Twenty minutes later my M.I.L had her egg and chips and we had an amusing anecdote to tease her with in the future. And I don’t think any of us we’ll forget the Spanish for eggs again. “Happy Huevo, guys!”