Language Barrier, Mistranslations

House Hunting

Last week I found a room to live in for the next year, which means I no longer have to sleep clenching my wallet and phone in dodgy 7€/night hostels.

I live with three Madrid locals and one Italian who all speak Spanish. I also live with two cats, Willy and Leo, who understand Spanish better than me (they at least know the words for sit, spin, and lay down.) It’s in the heart of Madrid and the street is alive with shops, bars, and restaurants.


The search wasn’t easy though, with many dodgy characters along the way. One such character was Miguel, who showed me one of his rooms. Before he opened the door, he stopped and proudly announced, “this is my best room, it has a window!”
I thought,  “Well I bloody well hope so, Miguel!”
It turns out that in a city as large and as old as Madrid, it’s quite common for a room to not have a window.

I also had a few awkward miscommunications during my search. Here is the English translation of a conversation I thought I was having:
Me: “thanks for showing me the room. Does the price include all bills?”
Carlos the sweaty Spaniard: “No, no bills”
Me: “Oh, how much are bills, approximately?”
Carlos: “What type of bills are you talking about?”
Me: “Just the normal ones”
Carlos: “I don’t know, sorry”
Me: “OK, how much are your bills, roughly?”
Carlos: “You can’t have my bills, I don’t have bills”
Me: “¿¿Que?? Everyone has bills Carlos!!”

The word for bills is ‘gastos’. However, the word ‘gatos’ is cats. He thought I was using the latter.

All was well in the end though, as I’m really happy with my place, it’s in a awesome location, and the price isn’t bad for a room with a window and all cats included.



5 thoughts on “House Hunting

  1. Silver duck quack says:

    Great news Mark. The building looks nice. Is it far from the uni? Certainly seems a great location for everything else.

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