Let’s just mark this as my first adventure in non-communicating. In a world where English just isn’t very common, life in this foreign country becomes a game of pantomiming, synonyms, and the Google Translate App on my phone.
“Gym?” “gym?” “workout room?” “running room?” “exercise?” “gymnasium?”
After much head-shaking and putting three heads together, I had nothing but blank stares until…finally…. an expression of recognition! Gymnasium! Its called a gymnasium! Fourth floor in the new building.
So I go to check it out (I knew I would need to use it as my escape when the cleaning lady comes…yes…a cleaning lady! posh life, I lead, in this apartment/hotel existence!) and get off the elevator on a DARK floor. As in, no lights. Let’s just point out that I’m already more than a little big weirded out by walking around as the only white girl and unable to communicate with anyone, and now I’m wandering around dark, abandoned halls!
I found the gym, barely found my way back to the room (it involves walking out a hotel service entrance and around the corner of the building to the main entrance of the apartment building and, of course, the service entrance is unmarked), and was mostly unpacked when the cleaning lady showed up.
Now, let’s note a few things about that interchange.
First, she kept saying one word and only one word: “laundry.” Laundry?! Well, I thought I was responsible for my own laundry? My washing machine is making progress already this morning, but if she wants to do my laundry, am I going to say no? So, I walk into the bathroom and reach for the used towels. With a question on my face, I asked if this is what she meant. She shook her head no. I started pantomiming sweeping (cue the “Cinderella”theme song.) still no recognition. So many moves later (I waved my room key around, trying to say I would leave…she kept repeating “afternoon”and then changed to “morning”…and I completely forgot the Google Translate button on my cell phone…would’ve been handy!), she left.
I scampered out after her, after changing into gym clothes, but there was no sign of her. So, I left. In hopes that she would spy on me from one of the keyholes and know I was leaving.
While I rode the elevator back up to the 21st floor an hour later, I pulled up Google Translate App: “I will come back after you clean” was all cued on my phone. But, good news! She was already done and gone…the bed made, the dishes done, and the floor swept.
Adventure number one. Complete.