Sometimes we come across things that are just too funny not to share. These stories may or may not make their way into the book, but we would be remiss if we didn't share them (with permission and anonymity).
"Do you have a stoplight I can use?"
In Colombia the word for "pen" is "esfero" and the word for "stoplight" is "semafero". For an innocent and still-new-to-spanish foreigner, those two words sound almost the same.
One day, out at a restaurant with an important potential client for a business lunch, John asks the waitress "Tienes un semafero para firmar el voucher?" After a few confused exchanges, several laughs and a healthy dose of embarrassment, John realized that you cannot, in fact, sign a check with a "semafero".
Also, waitresses don't typically carry them around.
Dad: Your French is getting really good!
4 year old son: I don't speak French
Dad: Of course you do
Son: No, I don't
Dad: Mais oui, parlons-nous français maintenant
Dad: Quelle langue parlons-nous maintenant?
Dad (confused): What? Then what language are we speaking right now?
Son: Normal voice
On the first weekend in the new house in Canada, Clara went to the grocery store in order to buy an oven-bake pizza so that the family wouldn't have to eat out and the dog wouldn't be left all alone.
She gets home, pops the pizza in the oven, turns it to 250 degrees and works on making a salad. After 10 minutes, the pizza is not done. After 20 minutes, the pizza is not done, and after 30 it is still not done.
After a few minutes of frustration, Clara realized that even though Canada uses the metric system, the oven in their rental house was an American appliance and, therefore, had Fahrenheit temperature controls. That pizza was never going to cook at 250F!
Desperate to get out of the compound in Saudi Arabia, Lindsay jumped at the chance to catch a ride to the grocery store with another trailing spouse. As they looped around the shop, the woman she was with seemed to grow more and more frustrated with how different and complicated grocery shopping was for a foreigner. As they passed the eggs, she made her case and point, "I mean, just look at the eggs they have for sale. It's disgusting! They are covered in chicken $h#t!" The farm fresh eggs just proved to be too foreign for the Westerner accustomed to having perfectly cleaned eggs on display in her local grocery from home.