Last night, after an all adventure at the beach, I decided I was too tired to go grocery shopping at the neighborhood market. After hobbling home with a bad sunburn and a broken right flip flop, I stopped at the corner bodega to buy something to eat for supper. I decided upon some hard-boiled eggs and an alfajor (a delicious cookie) to augment my meager supplies at home... which consisted of left-over food from the departed American teacher and my last reserves.
I'm sure the clerk, who I think must live there because she's always there when I go by the bodega, is amused at my "gringaness" when I attempt to buy things in my limited Spanish.
At first, I was too afraid to use the bodegas (or little convenience stores) because I was afraid of actually knowing what to ask for...however, convenience, hunger, and necessity overcame my fear. One of the unique things about these little stores is that you don't walk in and peruse the aisles like you do at 7-11 or Circle K. The store part and the clerk are behind large metal bars. You step up the counter and ask them for what you want, like you're ordering something in a prison commissary.
Another thing I had to learn about culture here is that for the most part people here don't usually understand the concept of standing in line. I have to be aggressive sometimes and make sure that nobody cuts in front of me, especially if I had been waiting for a while.
I also wonder how so many bodegas ( stay in business in such a small radius. In my neighborhood, there are five bodegas in a five-minute walk. Maybe they're really all part of one collective like in China.
So when I saddled up to the counter to ask for the eggs...
I said "Quiero dos jueves por favor."
The clerk looked at me funny and said "que?"
Then I realized my mistake.
I said "I want two Thursdays please."
What I meant to say was "Quiero dos huevos por favor.".... Or, "I want two eggs please."
Long story short is that pronunciation does matter! And for the record - the pronunciation is very similar!