We’re on the way home now. Right after our Disney experience we went to Beauvais (you might know it because Ryanair flies into Beauvais airport.) The weather was still hot but we managed to park under a tree at the camping car aire and I put my towel on the ground and read my book.
A car arrived as I sat there and the man inside started talking to me in French. I must have looked confused and he realised I wasn’t French (my sitting under the tree makes me look more French than I am…) But he needed to know some things so he was willing to try his English. We had a stop and start conversation. He said a word in English and I replied with a French word. He wanted to know if there was a charge for staying in the aire. There wasn’t. He wanted to know if there was water? Yes there was. He wanted to know where it was.
I got up from my tree and took him to the water machine. He wanted to know where to empty the toilet. I showed him. He wanted to know how to use it. I showed him. He had some more questions about the details of the toilet empty but neither of us had the words so we left that topic and walked back towards the tree.
On the way back he started to ask a question but he couldn’t find any English words but I guessed he was trying to find the words for where were we from and he was! We both laughed. It seemed that I was reading his mind. And of course, I wasn’t. Everyone wants to know where you’re from, I wanted to know where he was from too but I didn’t have the French words and I probably wouldn’t have recognised his home location anyway. I can guess he is about to buy or rent a motorhome and he was getting prepared to use it. He drove off still smiling, I was smiling too.
Communication and clarity of communication is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. Words are not the only way we communicate. When we speak our native language we depend on the words to get the meaning across so we can happily ignore the non-words – the facial expressions, the hand gestures, the tone of voice, the eyes. But all of those non-words are felt internally by us but ignored… until the middle of the night when we can’t sleep because of something he/she might have been saying.
Communication is tricky when you don’t speak the language and it’s very tricky when you do.