Several months into life in Albania, I went to visit some sites up north. One of the women in my office was traveling with me, participating in the site visit, enjoying not sitting at her desk, and helping me translate if I got lost. Or at least, so I thought.
We had perfect weather for the trip and we got to see several tourist sites as well. One thing we visited was a small enterprise of herbs and spices. The factory buys herbs locally from farmers (particularly lavender and sage), and then dries and bundles for export or makes into essential oils, also mostly for export. As we were touring, I was busy snapping pictures.
I decided I wanted a photo with some of the women working and asked my colleague if she would take it. I showed her how to use my camera and went over to the women to ask if I could take a picture of them. Keep in mind, my Albanian consists of saying “good morning”. My colleague, instead of helping, just laughed and laughed as I had to act out my request. The women thought my pantomime was pretty funny, but they got the idea and agreed.
In the next site, I was forced to do the same. My colleague, still laughing. Here, the women working insisted that I climb up a huge pile of lavander (I am talking taller than I am) so that I could get a picture with the stove. Since my colleague wouldn’t translate, they had to act out their request as well. In the end, they basically pulled me up the hill.
All is good in fun and no language skills as long as you have a sense of humor and a colleague who will make you the butt of the joke. (Hi Ana, I know you read these!)