Bodrum, Turkey to Bridgetown, Barbados
5,400 nautical miles
I have spent a month here working on the boat each spring for the last five years. The staff is Turkish, the boat owners are from all over the world. Cener, 30, university graduate at the “Marine Shop, Yacht Equipments” where I buy everything speaks excellent English. I often wonder what it would be like trying to explain what I wanted in Korean. As the song goes, “We don’t know how lucky we are, boys, we don’t know how lucky we are.”
A couple of years ago my boat neighbour was English Chief Detective Inspector Trevor (retired). There was a little French speaking Swiss man whose boat was in perfect boat show condition who thought it was his God given duty to instruct lesser mortals like me and CDI, in French, on the finer points of bottom paint application and fibreglass polishing. Although he may have been well intentioned, both CDI and myself were enjoying our time here without our wives giving us instructions. The last thing we really needed was a man masquerading as a wife, giving us instructions about relatively trivial stuff, and giving them in French.
The Turkish manager of the boatyard here, Gunhan, an amiable fellow who speaks good English, walks around carefully trying not to get lured into conversations that may be tricky or require a definite answer. Like, “What is the rate for electricity?” on the newly installed meters (electricity not previously metered). This brought an answer of “Metered”, and no further interest in the question. I thought about this and the last time the little French speaking Swiss man came by to profer some advice I was tempted to respond with my best impersonation of Manuel from Fawlty Towers – “Que?” The following season CDI told me that our Swiss friend was required by the restaurant owner at the Greek island of Nisiros to “Speak Greek or English!”—and his English was better than CDI’s and my French.
Heading off where the next languages will be Greek, Italian and Spanish. Unless somebody out there speaks English I won’t be getting a beer until somebody understands “Dos cerveza por favor.” What a wasted winter! I could easily have signed up at Mary’s Language Exchange (www.maryslanguageexchange.com) and learned enough to converse with the natives and make three new friends. Dang.