Lost in Translation

Happy MFJOk, so the Catalan people aren't really feeling the Anglès. Or the Inglès, as it turns out. On average, I'd say 1 out of 5 people on the street or in shops speaks a small bit of English and only a handful I've encountered in 4 days is conversational in English. My Spanish sucks, its misery only trumped by my Catalan, which is completely non-existent. Before I continue, let me caveat that I'm not complaining -- I get it. I should at least have a basic grasp of the local language, instead of mere remnants of high school Spanish I and II (from a South Carolina public school, no less!). But since I don't, I'm learning a terrific lesson in humility, as I painfully assemble strange sentence fragments based on the 20 or so words in my vocabulary at the moment: ¿Tienes [insert 1 of 10 known nouns or, more often, the English equivalent]?

¿Donde es [insert location name in English, with Spanish accent]?

¿Cuánto es [point with index finger]?

In every other situation, I simply must ask for help: ¿Perdon me? ¿Hablas Inglés? ¿Ayudarme? Como se dice [insert English word to be translated.] If you don't read or speak Spanish, this is a pretty boring read, I realize, but writing in Spanish helps me cement this stuff in my head, which is helpful in the pressure cooker of standing on a busy street corner trying to get directions from someone who speaks Catalan at the speed of light.

But alas, I guess this is the point. I'll figure it out. In the meantime, though, I fear I'm not representing very well, so you can think of me the next time you see a Dateline special on dumb Americans traveling in Europe.