Beautiful People – FINAL INSTALLMENT PART ONE…

I would like to apologize for the delay of this post, and the next apology is for something you will not like much. I did rewrite the complete final installment because, as you know, I had technical issues. However, I asked some advisors to read over the final installment (the second time I had the privilege of writing it), and I was told point blank it was too long and people lose interest and it would turn them off. So, I was advised to break this ‘Final Installment’ into two parts. This may not be the best or the brightest thing I have ever done, and I may not even agree, but I have broken it into two parts. Since it is already written; I will post the TRULY final installment on Wednesday, September 19th, in loving memory of my maternal Grandmother as it is her Birthday.

AGAIN, I must give my apologies, but sometimes life and business just seem to get in the way of blogging! However, this is the grand finale, though I am not sure how terribly “grand” it will be.. You guys can tell me.

So, the scene is: me in the salon, surrounded by some of the most attractive women I’ve ever SEEN, and they are all fussing about ME!! And, it was the ENTIRE salon! My adopted grandmother wanted nothing but the best for me, and so that’s what they were providing. I saw some other American come in and ask to get her hair done, and she was TURNED AWAY. The salon said they were booked for the entire next few days… to a paying customer??? Obviously, that didn’t go over well with the American female, but she seemed like a bit of a snot anyway, so I doubt it was any real loss. And, she clearly, didn’t have a handle on the Spanish lifestyle, so it would not have gone well… Sadly, I bet she would have actually wound up being mean to these wonderful women who were so genuine… Ok, not the issue at hand… Back to the story.

I asked why they were closed, and a couple of the women told me, “it’s because we want to help you. That woman is a regular here, and we have never seen her so happy, and YOU did that. And now that she is gone, you look very “triste” (sad), even as you stand here trying to fulfill her wishes”. I started to cry again. They all spoke pretty decent English, but I took this as a wonderful opportunity to work on my Spanish, it was definitely on CRUTCHES :)

As soon as it really hit me that these women REALLY knew the woman that took me under her wing, I started to pump them for information. I wanted to know why she was there so often, and how come she was always alone? This woman has to be the most amazing person I’ve ever met, and she has this polarizing presence, so why alone? Another biggie was: WHY ME? What made me so special? I was just another American here to have a good time and learn the language…

The women started answering all at once, and I couldn’t catch any of the answers, but what I could see was every single one of their facial expressions. Something was definitely going on there because while most of them were staring lovingly, many were fighting tears. I immediately apologized for upsetting them, and the salon manager silenced everyone. She then started to answer for the group of women who, were now, all in tears and stroking my face.

The salon manager said I’d asked a lot of questions, and asked me if I really wanted the answers. While that did scare the living daylights out of me, I said, “Yes, please”.

It turns out that the woman had been coming to Madrid for well over the past 30 years and staying at Ritz each time. The salon manager said she used to travel with her husband and they were absolutely inseparable! She also said that the two of them, as husband and wife, made one of the most attractive couples, both physically and emotionally, that she thought Spain had ever seen. They spent every moment together, the salon manager told me, and with every passing moment, they fell more and more in love. And I kept thinking this isn’t bad at all; it sounds quite lovely really… The salon manager went on to say that the woman would always use the salon to get all fixed up for many black tie events; despite the fact that the woman could do a better job blindfolded putting her makeup on and doing her hair, than all the girls in the salon combined! That made me laugh, after all, this was the manager telling me this… I asked WHY, if that was indeed the case, would the woman pay so much money for others to do for her, and the reply was something that did bring tears to my eyes, “She knew we were working for tourists because we did not have any other options, and we were making very little money. So, she figured since she had money she did not need, she would come in, and order all the services, and that way… we WOULD make money. And she also TAUGHT US how to do our jobs. She also figured, if she could pay us, why could she not also TEACH us, and that way, maybe, word of talents and skills might make it around Madrid, AND THEN we would be able to each stand on our own, with our own special set of skills. And, she was, and IS, RIGHT!”

And now the thoughts running through my head are, “is there nothing this woman could not or would not do? How can ONE PERSON change the world SO MUCH? Look at all these lives she’s touched. Oh, and let’s not forget MY life… “

The salon manager proceeded to talk over the thoughts milling about in my head, and so I missed some of what she said. However, I tuned back in time to hear, “but she was always the happiest when it was the three of them…”. I start to wonder who mysterious third person might have been, when the manager started a new sentence, “She was always beaming when she had her husband and her GRANDDAUGHTER. *Insert LONG pause while the woman stares at me* You know, you look remarkably like her granddaughter. I wonder if she would be the same age now…” and her voice trailed off and she got teary

Salon manager talking: “None of us could believe it when she brought you in. She was as happy, and just as radiant as she was when she brought her granddaughter. As a matter of fact, we all thought YOU WERE HER GRANDDAUGHTER. You look to be about the right age, you have the same smile, the same hair, the same lovely demeanor, and you both captured her every second and every breath. To be honest, she did tell us when her husband died, but never about the granddaughter. We figured it out from the fact that you are American, actually, despite looking very Mediterranean… We were TOLD NEVER to ask her about it, and as much as we love her, YOU make her happy, and that’s all that matters. Anyone here would give anything to bring the kind of joy that you bring to her… She’s helped us all, and looked after us all so much, how can we ever give back enough? That is why you are the subject of the ENTIRE salon, because we REMEMBER, and we did used to play with her granddaughter, just like we are doing you up now… So, not only do you make her happy, but you are a beautiful memory to us as well. And we will do anything to make that last AS LONG as we can..”

At this point I am tearing up, and thinking that I must not cry because I am sure that it will set everyone off, and my make-up will run, and I will have ruined all their hard work and/or my dress… But who am I to deserve all this attention? And to have the power to evoke beautiful feelings and memories in COMPLETE STRANGERS???? I did repeatedly pinch myself to make sure this was not a dream.. and apparently I was doing it too many times because one of the girls slapped my hand and told me that I was going to really hurt myself!

Back to my very own Rico Suave that sauntered in…Tall, dark, and handsome is definitely THE way to go. After a while he was allowed into the salon to chat with me, but the salon women and girls were fiercely protective. They told him how close he could get to me, NOT to touch me, and that he was to explain what exactly was going on, and that he was also allowed to talk about how beautiful I am.

I won’t be giving out his name, so let’s stick to calling him Rico Suave, shall we? Lovely Mr. Suave introduced himself as a Spanish businessman and he was involved in various sorts of media. One girl whispered he was one of the top executives at a Spanish company, and she told me the name, which I will not be sharing here. Mr. Suave also informed me that I would be accompanying him to see the most famous Flamenco show and dancer(s) in Madrid. We would also be having dinner together, and there would be dancing. And at the word “dancing”, I nearly died! Since when did I inherit a rhythm section????

I start to PANIC!!! What was I going to do? I mean, besides look like a TOTAL FOOL in front of this drippingly gorgeous man, who is being so nice to me… And, he is someone that merely appeared out of THIN AIR because my adopted grandmother picked him out and asked (more likely, knowing her TOLD Rico Suave he would not only be my date, but that it would HIS pleasure to take me around, pay for everything… and it had to be THE BEST).  After all that had happened that day, I really was about to come unhinged. I was so emotional, and I felt amazingly loved, but I also felt lost and abandoned. Now, here was this absolute DREAM male, and clearly someone she had wanted me to meet and hit it off with, and I was going to go screw it all up by stumbling about on the dance floor as if I were a completely uncoordinated drunk L… I was really at the end of my rapidly fraying rope.

Luckily at this point Rico Suave seemed to read my mind again he started talking to me but the salon girls, especially the salon manager, would only let him get so close to me. They kept saying ‘She isn’t ready, she isn’t ready’ and he said, “I just want to talk to her for a minute about our plans for this evening. I was told she does not know how to Flamenco dance and as she is American I don’t think it’s fair to expect her to know how based on watching professionals”. To this the salon manager replied in Spanish (Translated for your reading ease) “OK you may talk to her but please be aware she is very fragile right now and if you upset her we will all make your life miserable plus do not forget the instructions SHE (my adopted Grandmother) gave you. You certainly do not want to go against her wishes nor do you want to disappoint her, remember that. Her name is Jamie, just in case you forgot and remember that she is absolutely off limits. She is not just any female, she is especially NOT one of your dumb dates. We know you don’t know her but we know her well and because of the relationship you have with (insert adopted Grandmother’s name here) she trusts you implicitly, and honestly believes that you have not just her best interests at heart but those of (insert adopted Grandmother’s name), and therefore her safety, her physical well-being and her mental well-being are in your hands. She is young and very sweet. She speaks Spanish better than she is willing to admit, so I suggest you do not say anything you do not want her to hear in either English or Spanish. By now you should understand just how much this girl means to us, and if anything at all happens and she is either disappointed or wounded physically or emotionally we will most certainly make sure that this is reported back to (insert adopted Grandmother’s name here), and you will have to answer to us as well”.

Rico Suave approached me just as they were finishing pinning my gorgeous, blue and white Flamenco dress. As he came closer the girls withdrew but stayed at a very safe distance and were clearly making sure that he did not do or say anything to upset me. Rico Suave properly introduced himself and shook my hand commenting on what a sturdy handshake I had, how beautiful I was (and I didn’t even have makeup on yet), and how amazingly Mediterranean I looked and confessed that not only was I more beautiful than he had hoped, but that the saying the eyes are the window to the soul was clearly true just like (insert adopted grandmothers name here) had told him. However, he went on to say he did not believe the next part of what she had told him about my eyes. As it turns out she had told him that my eyes were far more than windows to my soul, they were a portal back in time to the happiest and most memorable period in one’s life.

At this point my advisors are telling me that this installment is becoming very long and may turn people off by the sheer size. I must say that I feel myself reliving the story yet again as I retell it and as much as I love this story/memory it makes me both very happy and very sad to be back living in this world reliving this memory. I know you have all waited a long time to see how this story ends, and I promise that I will not keep you waiting long this time.  I have already written the truly final installment and that will be posted on Wednesday, September 19th.

And NO, I am not using my dead grandmother’s birthday as a PR move. Since what was supposed to be the FINAL post in this series was cut into two posts, and my grandmother knew this story… I thought I would honor both my maternal grandmother (who passed away in 2009) and my adopted grandmother who gave endlessly and helped shape me into the person I am today, by posting the TRULY final chapter of this story on the birthday of the woman who raised me, and who was (and I am sure STILL is proud of me) for making a lonely woman happy. And I am truly blessed to have been able to share and aid her in living and perpetuating a beautiful memory.

Jamie Bonnette, Founder&Owner

Found In Translation, LLC

1.916.220.6307

translate@found-n-translation.com

The most beautiful people, part 3

OK.. picking up where I left off is hard. It is hard to just jump back into all that nostalgia, but I will do my best. Also, apologies for it taking so long, but I’ve been rather ill. Now, moving right along…

The woman came back into the room with another glass of orange juice, and I thanked her repeatedly for taking care of me, and told her  that it made me miss my grandmothers. I told her about how one set of grandparents raised me, and so they are/were very dear to my heart… but I stopped when I saw her tearing up.

I asked her what she had on the agenda, and she told me she wanted a night owl like she knew I was, and someone who appreciated culture as well as the finer things in life… And apparently, one night out someone asked where some spoon went and what some fork was for, and I was the only one able to answer… What can I say? I did the debutante training…. But I thought it was amusing that something so small was noteworthy.

I drank the second glass of fresh squeezed OJ and told her I would hop in the shower so that we could get going. She told me she had the whole day and well into the night, booked! I couldn’t wait! I threw off the covers and raced to my wall to wall marble bathroom, turned on my two person shower, let it heat up, and hopped on in… I found that all my shampoo and conditioner, face and body wash was already there!!! I was definitely BORN for this shower :), and this lifestyle was something I felt pretty secure was for me!!!

So, I got all dressed in non-American clothing, and stepped out to ask her if my outfit was acceptable, or if I needed to dress up or down, and what she thought. She told me I looked fabulous, but that my outfit was only good for most of the day, and that we would have to return to the hotel to change for our evening plans. And as I turned to leave, I heard her mumble something. I turned around and asked her to repeat what she had said, no matter how silly she thought it might be. And she replied that she had said, I looked an awful lot like her granddaughter, and was asking to play with my hair and style it the way she used to do with her granddaughter. Now keep in mind I have long, thick, and A LOT of dark curly hair and bright green eyes…. Naturally, I told her she could do anything she wanted to my hair, but that I did not own a blow dryer, and even if I did, it would take hours to dry; to which she replied, “I know carino”. So, she had me sit at her dressing table and proceeded to blow my hair dry, which took about two hours, and then she added some curls to it, and pulled it up as if I were a flamenco dancer, and then she whipped out a flower she had clearly picked that morning, and it was a gorgeously deep shade of light red/deep pink. When she was finished she took a look and said “perfecto”. And I laughed nervously and thanked her for the compliment…. She then asked me if I wore makeup, and I told her that I did not, to which she replied I was lucky enough not to need it, but would I mind if she applied some, again like she used to do with her granddaughter. How am I supposed to say NO to that? Plus, as I sat there staring in the mirror watching her delicately aged hands move around my hair and caress my cheek, I couldn’t believe I was staring at myself, she had completely transformed me! And into someone SUPER attractive!!! So, I agreed and she began applying all this stuff that I had no idea how to work, and STILL don’t know how to work today!!!

She told me not to look until she was done, but I couldn’t wait to see what other miracles this woman was going to make happen, and so every once in awhile I peeked. And the creature in the mirror looked very regal, sophisticated, far older than my real age, and almost as if I should be stepping onto a red carpet. She noticed me smiling and told me to stop being naughty and keep my eyes closed!!! And as she was applying the make up she was singing Mariposa Tracidionera, and that alone made me smile. Finally, she allowed me to open my eyes AND told me to look in the mirror. And I’ve had my make up done for various benefits, dances, and just when I am shopping for new makeup… and she blew them all away! I was speechless, and that is RARE!!! I started to tear up as she took out a photo of her granddaughter done up exactly the same way she had done me… and oddly enough, there was a striking resemblance!!!! I sat there, amazed at how beautiful she had made me, and honestly couldn’t believe the image in the mirror was my own reflection!!!!!!!!!! I thank her through watery eyes and hugged her tight.

I know I hadn’t known her long, but it felt as if I had known her my entire life, and she had always been a part of me, it just took my running into her for that part of me to wake up. I’ve had that feeling a few times since, but never so strongly.

She reminded me I couldn’t sit and stare at myself all day, we had things to do, so out we went! And everywhere we went, people kept mistaking me for some movie star or flamenco dancer, but I couldn’t catch the names of either. We went all around Madrid and she showed me the historic district, Plaza del Sol, the Ham Museum, the best little known places to get tapas and drinks….and before I knew it, it was 10p.m. She told me it was time to go back to the hotel, change and get the party started! At which I simply laughed, I was already having a ball. But, back to the hotel we went, and she asked me what sort of provocative clothing I had with me…. And I responded, “none”. She refused to believe that, and asked if she could go through my clothes and see, and of course I agreed. After a awhile searching, she agreed with me, and called downstairs and asked for several specific items to be sent up. As it turns out, I was to be wearing some interesting patterned nylons, a Versace skirt with slits all the way up the sides, and some other Versace super V-neck ensemble with, naturally, Spanish stilettos, and ALL BLACK— my absolute favorite color :) It is, really it is….

She got dressed and put some jewelry on me, because a lady can never be without jewelry, and off we went into the Madrid night life. We went into the kitchen of some Michelin star restaurant because she knew the chef and the owner, then we went from VIP room to VIP room. And I tried to break out my camera and get pictures of her having such a good time, and that gorgeous smile she had that could stop anyone in their tracks… but she wouldn’t let me, claiming that she never took good photos…. Finally, after we were all done clubbing, dancing, and drinking, we wound up at a local hole in the wall where all the chefs and seems famous people who wish not be bothered were located. There someone did take my camera, and they told her to get in the picture, and they took a picture of the two of us smiling, and our arms wrapped around one another. I was beyond thrilled to finally have a memento of this amazing woman. We stayed and chatted with chefs, footballers, flamenco dancers, writers, food critics, cinema stars until around 5 am, and then she said she was tired and we ought to head back to the hotel, to which I agreed.

This time, I helped her get ready for bed; putting her jewelry away, and folding her clothes. She came out of the bathroom in nightgown, and I tucked her into her bed, and showed her the photo of the two of us, and she started to tear up. I told her if it was too much she could always erase it, I would forever have her in my memory, and did not need a photo to remind me. I made sure she was tucked in tight, and left the camera with her, just in case she wanted to delete the picture, and then I headed to my room; undressing as I walked. I was super tired and my feet were KILLING me. I didn’t want to remove the makeup she put on, so I brushed my teeth and changed into my pajamas and hopped in bed, and I swear that the moment my head hit the pillow the sun was rising and I was out like a light!!!

I woke up what seemed like a short time later and she was nowhere to be found. I figured she had just gone out to grab something, but I noticed her suitcases and everything else were gone… I began to panic…. I looked around for a sign that she was okay, maybe a note… anything? On her bed, on top, of her pillow was a note, in English, and as I saw this, I began to cry. I don’t remember the exact wording, but it went something like this:

I have never been good with goodbyes, even when I am given the chance. I took the photo of us and made copies for me to carry, I hope you don’t mind. Unfortunately, something went wrong, and the picture was erased. Please know that you gave me a part of my life for which I had been longing for ages. You are living proof the spirit of my granddaughter lives on. You are not only externally beautiful, you are a truly beautiful person who did not have to indulge an old woman so. The fact that we connected and you did means the world to me, more than I could ever express. As long as I live, you will serve as my reminder of all that is good in this world, and that there is always hope and beauty wherever one goes. I know you are not my granddaughter, but I would be honored to be able to call you that and count you amongst my family. Thank you so very much for being you, and don’t ever stop. If every you hit a stumbling block or a rough patch in life, just think me for I will always be with you, watching you and guiding you through life. You alone made the impossible possible, and gave a dying woman the peace she so desperately needed. Please stay here as long as you want, I’ve told the concierge to take care of everything you want or need. I am sorry to sneak out, but I was going to wake you and you looked so peaceful and happy, and that is the way I will always remember you. If ever you need anything, please think of me and I will be there to help. Take care of yourself guapa, for inside you there is a heart like no others’, and that is true beauty. I love you dearly. Until we meet again….. And she signed her name.

I burst into tears, I felt like I had just been abandoned, but most of me knew that wasn’t the case… It hurt an incredible amount though. I clearly had no idea how attached to this woman I really was. I looked around at what had become my sort of safe haven, against all things gone wrong and homesickness, and just felt EMPTY, Part of me was asking, did this really happen, or did I just make this up? I can’t count how many times I pinched myself to make sure I was awake and that this was real… funny how I only did that when the PAIN came into the picture…. And I had the bruises to prove it was indeed, REAL.

As soon as I could stop crying enough and was able to fake a reasonably normal voice, I phoned the front desk to see if she had really gone. I think all of me wanted the other end to say NO, she’s down here at the hotel bar… or something… But instead, I got “Yes, she checked out early this morning, but left instructions for your care. She has said you should stay as long as you like, and do what as you please. You are to have a driver, and anything else you so desire. The salon is at your disposal, and there will always be fresh flowers, daily, for your hair. She also said here not to allow you to shed one tear over her. She said she expects you to maintain the gorgeous smile she fell in love with, and she arranged for someone in the salon to do your hair just like you had it last night. She also asked me to remind you that you were the best thing to happen to her in years, and she expects that you will go through life with that beautiful smile on your face, and think of her from time to time. Also, she left you a couple things down here, which I will now send up to you. She said you will always be in her heart, and that if you look closely, you will see her everywhere”. I said thank you, and hung up, and resumed crying like a baby.

There was a knock at the door, and it was a bellboy. I let him in and he handed me a flower, just like the one she had put in my hair the night before. And he asked if he could hand something in the closet, and told me that I had an appointment at the salon in an hour. So, he placed the heavy looking bag in the closet and said he would come get me for my appointment, I thanked him through the tears, and collapsed on the bed. I didn’t care that she had left anything, I just wanted her. I felt my hair for the flower from the previous night, and it was GONE. I ran into my room and tore apart my bed…. I ran around the room frantically looking for that flower. I tore apart my entire bathroom and I had done everything in such a frenzy I was out of breath and collapsed on the floor in tears, AGAIN. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something that looked like a piece of paper that must have fallen onto the floor after I ripped apart my bed… I picked it up, and it read: “Carino, I do hope that someday you will understand how difficult this was for me, and forgive me. I could not leave you without saying goodbye, and I really wanted something to remember you by… So, before I leave I am kissing your forehead so that a part of you will know I am always with you, and love you dearly. I am also taking the flower I put in your hair yesterday. I know it will wilt, but that is perhaps the most beautiful part. The flower may wilt, but i can dry it and preserve it, and forever save this memory. The flower represents life at a young age, like you. While you are blossoming, you must never forget that you are also parting ways with many things and people, do not take a single one for granted. I know you will go on to do great things, and your heart will speak to many more people than I can ever imagine, please let it. You made a dying woman the happiest she’s ever been, and gave her a bit of her life and sense of hope back. Every time you look at a flower, think of me, and all I saw in you. There will be people who try to shake you from who you really are, do not let them. Always smile and always stop to admire the flowers. If you look for me, regardless of where you are, I will always be there looking over you. I know we just met, but I love you dearly, and will always look after you”.

And so, the crying continued… I walked over to the closet and unzipped the clothing bag the bell boy had dropped off. I nearly fainted I was so stunned. It was an absolutely GORGEOUS blue and white FLAMENCO dress!!! To those of you out there who have no idea what they cost, some of the cheaper ones are hundreds of Euros, but this one was clearly in the THOUSANDS. I wondered why she had asked me what my favorite color was… It was a professional grade Flamenco dress!! Complete with earrings and shoes. It also had a note on it… “I hope you don’t mind, but I took some measurements while you were sleeping and wanted to leave you with something that might stop your crying, and maybe even get you a Spanish boyfriend :) If alterations are needed, the hotel will take care of them for you. Also, here are two tickets to a Flamenco show tonight. They are expecting you early to give you some lessons, and they will be expecting you in your dress. Also, please look in the right shoe…. There is a flower that I would like you to wear tonight, and think of me. No tears carino, this is not a goodbye, this is merely, until we meet again…”
Naturally, I am sobbing. How could I let someone so precious slip away? How did i not see this coming? Why…. And I just quit asking. I took a deep breathe and I could still smell her perfume. I decided I would do EXACTLY as she wanted.  So, I placed the flower back in the shoe, and headed downstairs to make her proud. When the elevators doors opened, the entire lobby seemed to freeze and watch me walk across to the concierge and ask where I needed to go to get a jump start on this. He handed me a tissue and sent me off in the direction of the salon, and that’s where the party began. I had all these Spanish women making sure everything fit correctly, and that I knew how to comport myself. They seemed to know that I had two tickets, and asked if I had met my date yet… I said no, and that I was not aware I had a date, and they all looked at each other and giggled. And 5 seconds later, I knew why. After those 5 seconds in walked a drop dead GORGEOUS Spanish man with dark hair and piercing blue eyes. He was in amazing shape!!! He was indeed a business man, but as all good Spanish men can, he was also an excellent dancer. So, before my adopted grandmother left me, she even found me a smoking hot DATE!!!! Is this woman good or what??? I immediately wondered if I was attractive enough for him… And I asked the women working around me, and they said oh yes… and when they were done with me, I would far outshine him!

I sat back and couldn’t help but wonder where my adopted grandmother had gone, and that she wouldn’t want to miss this show, so she had to be around somewhere watching…

And ladies and gents, part 4 will actually be the final installment, and it will be posted soon. Please leave your feedback!!!!

Jamie Bonnette, Founder & Owner

Found In Translation, LLC

1.916.220.6307

The most beautiful people, part 2

I really wasn’t much of a drinker, but they coaxed me into trying some Sangria, Cuba Libres, and heaven knows what else… I didn’t want to seem ungrateful OR rude, so I tried to drink as much of whatever they gave me, as I could. And I while I was already really comfortable with them, I found myself relaxing even MORE!! I was willing to separate myself from my dictionary, and take a change using incorrect grammar and talking around the words I did not know… and while I certainly caused a lot of laughs; it was all in a fun and loving sort of way. They and their friends would correct me, and then ask me to help them with some of their English, and I, OF COURSE, agreed… TO EVERYTHING. And I probably should have paid more attention as to what I was agreeing TO, but I was SO caught up in the moment, there was NOTHING I wouldn’t do.

As the night went on, the grandmother figure with the energy and spirit of a 20 year-old pulled her chair closer to mine and talked to me more and more. She told me more of how I reminded her of her granddaughter, and showed me pictures. I have to say that EVEN I THOUGHT the resemblance was ASTOUNDING! She told me more about how similar our personalities were, how when we smiled we just lit up the world, how stubborn we both were, how devoted we both were to our family and friends, and most of all how we both cherished the time we spent with our grandparents. Her eyes were watering up and I saw the first tear fall… it was just us at the table because everyone else was dancing, so I pulled her in and hugged her tight and she sobbed harder. Just think, I hadn’t even known this woman 12 hours and she was bearing her soul to me? I was certainly not worthy of that, but I felt very honored. I held her and rocked her, and told her everything was going to be just fine. We obviously met for a reason, and I thought it was her granddaughter wanted her to know that her spirit is all around her, all she has to do look. I also told her that I was SURE her granddaughter continued to love her very much and was always watching out for her, but did not want her to suffer so… at that point she looked up embraced my face, looked me straight in my teary green eyes, and said, “She sent you to me. She is the reason WE met, and YOU are the reason I will go on living”. I burst into tears just as she seemed to be doing better, and she held me close. She said things like no matter we both thought the universe acts in strange ways, and that I had renewed her faith in God, humanity, and her will to live. …. I was SHOCKED.

I just continued sobbing. I told her I was sure that her granddaughter was a far better woman than I could ever hope to be, but I would try to make them both proud.

She then asked for a favor, and I instinctively said yes with tears still dripping down my face. She asked if we could meet the next morning in her hotel room and she could do my hair like she used to for her granddaughter, in a couple different ways, and asked if I wouldn’t mind leaving it that way for the day, and I agreed and asked her what time she would like me to meet her there and what I should be wearing. She told me she had something she wanted to give me to wear… I told her I couldn’t accept it, but she insisted…. Then someone noticed we were all alone and pulled us both up to dance. We danced the night away and the last few things I remember were us getting a cab and going back to their SUITE, not room, at the Ritz…

I woke up when she came in with some orange juice. I looked around and she had tucked me into this amazing bed in this gorgeous room, drawn the curtains put my heels at the end of my bed, and gone to my hotel and gotten some items of clothing for me to wear and took the liberty of getting toiletries and the stuff I use to keep my hair from frizzing… I do have naturally dark, thick, curly hair. I must have showed some alarm, because she told me what had happened, while I came up to say goodnight, she was too tired to go out again, and as she was asking me if I would mind staying the night in one of their guest rooms, I fell asleep!!! How bad am I!??? So, she woke me up enough for me to get into bed and she tucked me in, and did all the things you LOVE your grandma to do… make sure everything is just right with the pillows, not too much light, but just enough, left some water and aspirin by my bedside… made sure my purse was in sight and left a note next to me on my pillow saying if I needed anything or anything happened simply to call her name…. I looked over, and sure enough, there was the note, I had completely and embarrassingly PASSED OUT!

My eyes watered up, and I could see hers start to as well… so I thanked her for the OJ and asked her to sit next to me, and tell me what was really wrong, and how I could help. I told her I knew the man was not her husband, from conversations last night, and he was not there when I woke up. She told me that he was an old friend and squired her about when she came to Madrid, so she wasn’t alone.

The truth turned out to be that she lost her husband AND her granddaughter at the same time, the same day, same car… Her husband has taken their granddaughter out to buy a new dress and a gift for her grandmother’s BIG birthday celebration… On the way to dress shop, while driving, he had a heart attack and drove the car off a cliff. They were both pronounced dead at the scene. So, ever since then she has houses all over Europe, and Latin and South America and friends everywhere, and when she gets too lonely she leaves… and that’s what she did that lead her to Madrid…

I grabbed her and held her tightly because I could see she was trembling and very afraid I would be upset. I told her I couldn’t express how sorry I was for her losses, but if in ANY small way I could help her, I most certainly would. She then asked if I had any plans for the next few days, to which I replied, “not anymore, I am 100% yours”. And she hugged me and kissed me and thanked me, over and over again.

She told me that I must not feel too great because my color was a little off and I clearly was not used to drinking. She told me she was going to get me some more aspirin and she expected to see all the juice gone when she came back because she was bring me more; we had a big few days ahead :)

I did as she requested and fell back onto, what was quite possibly the world’s comfiest bed, and closed my eyes and pictured each of my grandmothers, who were still living then, and saw them smiling. I knew I was doing the right thing. I opened my eyes spread my arms around on the pillows and took a sniff of the air, the sheets, and looked around the room because I wanted to REMEMBER THIS MOMENT EXACTLY THE WAY WAS!

To be continued once again….

Jamie Bonnette, Founder & Owner

Found In Translation, LLC

Jbonnette@found-n-translation.com

http://www.facebook.com/foundintranslationllc

1.916.220.6307

The most beautiful and loving people I ever met…

I will never forget the first of MANY language mistakes I made when I moved to Spain. I had a little Spanish under my belt, albeit NOT Castellano, so I was feeling pretty good when I stepped off the airplane and into the wonderful world of Madrid. And then I looked up at the signs, which were in Spanish and English, and I thought, “Easy”. WRONG!!!!

Apparently, I look Spanish, so some woman came up to me said she was from Buenos Aires (all in Spanish), and was wondering if I might help her around the airport and suggest some restaurants she might like in Madrid. I UNDERSTOOD what she was saying, but when it came time to reply, I was at a total loss. Don’t get me wrong, I sputtered out something and did indeed help her, but that was a MAJOR ego blow. I knew I had to reassess my attitude then, and there.

There happened to be a sweet elderly couple who were having trouble with their bags, so I went over and picked them up and put them on their luggage trolley. The woman reminded me of the sweet grandmothers you always see portrayed in Italian, yes Italian, movies… As it turns out, they were quite wealthy Argentines, and I was the only one who would help them, and I did so without asking… I pushed their trolley piled high with my luggage and theirs to the taxi terminal. When we arrived, the woman couldn’t stop hugging me and telling me that she had just lost a granddaughter who looked very similar to me, and that she was just sure it was her granddaughter’s way of looking out for them. She started to cry, and her husband teared up and stared at me as I helped the cabby put their luggage in the trunk.

I walked back over, and tried to figure out what to say in my head, BEFORE I opened my mouth and screwed everything up…. TOO LATE… They started asking me all these questions.. And all I could get out was that I was from California here to study and that I missed home. And because the woman was crying and so was the man at this point I had NO IDEA what to do… They begged me not to leave them. Apparently, their granddaughter had died while they were on a trip to Madrid before, and they were convinced I was there to show them they had a second chance with their granddaughter. How could I say no?? These people were clearly distraught and for some reason, needed ME.

Before I knew it, we were in two taxis, due to all of our luggage. They took me to my hotel and took care of the Spanish speaking and got me settled in my room, and then they took me to their hotel. Where I did everything I could to act like a good granddaughter, and tried very hard to communicate how appreciative I was for ALL their help and kindness.

And then they asked me to dinner, did I mention they were staying at the Ritz??? I tried to say that I couldn’t impose, and even got someone at the hotel to translate for me, but the woman begged, and had the same person translate back to me, saying “Please, this would be the greatest gift one could ever have or give, more time with my granddaughter”. What kind of JERK says NO to that????? I was in WAY over my head…

They took me to some very upscale restaurant, where they introduced me to all sorts of Spanish food and culture. And as I found myself relaxing, something strange started to happen. I understood them…It was almost as if I had stepped into the twilight zone!

….To Be Continued

Jamie Bonnette, Founder & Owner

Found In Translation, LLC

Jbonnette@found-n-translation.com

http://www.facebook.com/foundintranslationllc

1.916.220.6307

Let’s Get PERSONAL…

For those of you out there who speak more than one language, I would LOVE to hear how you went about it.

We all remember those days in school being told to memorize crucial phrases such as: “Where is the library?”, “Where is McDonalds?”, “Peter likes to eat pizza”, “Where is the garbage?”, and the timeless classic “Where is the bathroom?”. Granted most of these have their proper and time and place, but overall they do nothing for you.

I took Spanish in Elementary school, French in High School, and went back to Spanish in college. I had ONE good language professor, a Spaniard, throughout my college years studying in the US. Since I didn’t find college terribly challenging, and I LOVE adventure, I used office hours to ask my professor about what Spain was like and his home town… And, then I had the idea that changed my life forever. If I was really serious about learning another LANGUAGE and not just asking about a bathroom, I needed to STUDY ABROAD.

A roommate of mine had done it before, and gone through a specific program, called ISA. This may be a shameless plug, but I assure you that I am not being paid or receiving any perks for mentioning their name. I just want them to stay in business because they are the THE BEST company out there for this. All my friends have HORROR stories about the various agencies they used, and I do not have even ONE complaint about ISA. But that’s not the point…

All these translation companies that NEED your business talk about such generic things, but luckily, I am NOT like that. While I would LOVE your business, I do not expect it. Business is like trust, it should be EARNED and not given. So, my blogs will be PERSONAL, for the most part…. the others will be FUNNY, INFORMATIVE, and I’ll try to weave in as much personal info as is relevant.

Jamie Bonnette, Founder & Owner

Found In Translation, LLC

Why does finding local translation have to be so hard?

The other day I was contacted by a woman applying to a MBA program in Italy looking for someone to translate her High School and College Transcripts as well as her College Diploma into Italian along with descriptions of each. This was a job we were easily able to accommodate and I had the finished documents back to her within the week. However, when we met to hand over the documents she mentioned that she was so happy that she had found us as she had really struggled to find a local translation agency.

 

This started me thinking about why is it so hard to find quality local translation services you can trust. Big companies might have entire divisions dedicated to producing their various materials in whatever language or dialects they may need. Others can contract or retain large multinational project management or consulting firms to cover this. However, this still leaves the individual crying out for help.

 

To be honest I find myself spending more and more of my time helping individuals; ranging from people like the woman above to others needing marriage or birth certificates translated for immigration. Although we still do a lot of large Government and Private sector projects these smaller more personal ones help us to maintain a local connection, something we are very proud of.

 

We at Found In Translation want to be your one and only stop when it comes to translation and cultural consulting. We have a full team of internationally based translators who will be more than happy to deliver a quality and proof read culturally sensitive translation as quickly as you need. Please feel free to contact us at translate@found-n-translation.com with any of your translation needs. 

Lost In Translation…

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to have your branding or marketing efforts translated into another language? If you have then you may have wondered what the translation really said and whether or not the true meaning of your message had been preserved. Although you are probably not the first person wondering this there are definitely more than a few people at very high profile companies that maybe should have wondered this over the years. Here are a few examples of where companies have not taken into account cultural differences or simply not realized that some things just don’t translate literally or at least maybe should not:

Possibly one of the most famous translation mistakes was carried out by Pepsi a few years ago when they started advertising in China that their Cola would ‘bring your ancestors back from the dead’. This was of course a literal translation of the company’s North American Slogan “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation”. Despite the fact that the Chinese version may be a more impressive claim some people might argue it is false advertising.

Of course Pepsi’s eternal rival Coca Cola couldn’t let themselves be outdone and sure enough they found their own literal translation mistake when they had their brand name translated into Chinese. There was a small mistake in the symbols and instead of Coca Cola it was telling everyone to ‘bite the wax tadpole’.

Not being finished with two of Americas favorite drinks manufacturers the Chinese also helped embarrass the famous Colonel when he tried to sell his Kentucky Fried Chicken. KFC’s famous ‘Finger Lickin Good” slogan literally translated to ‘Eat Your Fingers Off”, possibly a better option than admitting to a late night binge but still probably a little extreme.

One of my personal favorite stories of recent years was the Ford Pinto. I have no problem with the car and I am sure it’s sales in America were very good. However, I would doubt it sold overly well in Brazil where ‘Pinto’ is slang for ‘Tiny Male Genitals’.

A similar problem arose, or should I same came up, for Purdue Chicken when they posted billboards in Mexico with their slogan ‘it takes a tough man to make a tender chicken’ except that the slogan had been miss translated to say ‘It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused’.

Not everything comes down to purely errors in translation. Sometimes the language doesn’t even matter. In many third world countries a large proportion of the population can’t read. As a result it is typical for these countries to produce products with photos on them depicting the contents. Thus when the United States and British Governments donated ‘Gerber’ baby food to African tribes there was a certain amount of distress caused. Imagine a group of people who believe that the image on the product depicts the contents being given a large number of jars with pictures of babies on them.

As you can see it is definitely worth looking into what you are really saying before you sign off on any translation you may have done. Remember asking for professional advice could save you a lot of embarrassment and we at Found In Translation can offer just this expertise. Please contact us at translate@found-n-translation.com with any questions you may have.

 With that in mind I will leave you with one final bit of advice. When in a coffee shop in Germany I recommend you don’t order a ‘Latte’ as this translates as ‘erection’ a lesson which Starbucks learnt the hard way, literally.