After today’s long, rainy ride, laundry and a hot shower we were famished.
Luckily, the restaurant next door to our hotel, looked clean and inviting with bright red table clothes and Vietnamese families sipping some alcohol from tiny porcelain tea cups and munching dinner plate-sized rice crackers.
The owner greeted us with a smile and a menu that I eagerly opened and scanned the first page. I saw only Vietnamese words typed in black. The second page was the same – big letters, small letters, bold and italicized letters with a white margin. Pages three through five were identical. There were no pictures. There was no English translation. There was no way I could tell whether I was ordering drinks, food, or dessert.
I closed the menu and smiled at the owner. Eric didn’t miss a beat.
Eric: Beer La Rue.
He held up his pointer finger to indicate ” one” and continued.
What’s your speciality? The speciality of the house? What’s the best thing to eat?
Realizing this man doesn’t speak of word of English, I knew “speciality” would be too hard to understand, so I jumped in with my famous sign language:
Me: Holding two thumbs up and rubbing my stomach to illustrate the word “delicious” or “hungry”.
Good food. Best food.
Then I put my hands under my armpits and clucked like a chicken. (Seriously… I did that….I’ll blame it on my hunger.)
Manager: Fried chicken?
Us: OK, Yes, Good!
Then we pointed at our neighbor’s table and and rubbed our stomachs because their meal looked good, too.
A few minutes later a waiter brought a can of warm beer.
Eric: Can I have a cold beer? This beer is warm.
He held the can and shivered to show “cold.”
The waiter returned with a bucket of ice water and put our can in. But, we were impatient, thirsty and hunger so we fished the can out of the water, grabbed one of the ice cubes and plunked it in our glass. We then poured the beer over the ice cube and took a swig. Lovely, I thought, ignoring the slightly soapy aftertaste.
I was feeling pretty content but Eric was making faces of discomfort. The mosquitos, which I should point out ONLY like Eric, were buzzing around his face and sucking on his ankles. (No, he didn’t wear socks.)
Me: Did you bring your mosquito repellant?
Eric: No. I didn’t think there would be mosquitos.
Me: Duh. We’re in a tropical climate. There are always mosquitos. Do you want to wear my socks?
With his grumpy face on, he got up and closed the window near our table.
Me: What good is that going to do? All the windows are open. Plus there are only three walls. The mosquitos will choose a different flight path.
Eric: No, they’re not that smart. They won’t come in a different window.
Me: Does he seriously believe that? I started laughing.
Some food arrived and interrupted my laughter. We think it was sliced beef (edible) with some other white gristly stuff (un-edible). We were still hungry and wondering if my “clucking” like a chicken had communicated my point. I was unsure because I never “mooed” like a cow.
As if reading our minds, just then the waiter brought us each a bowl of thick, warm, chicken rice soup. I love this soup better than fried chicken and dug right in. Eric on the other hand was still being disturbed by mosquitoes.
Eric: Do you see anything buzzing around my face?
Me: Yes, I do.
I reached across the table, slapped his left cheek, and watched a tiny black dot fall into his warm soup.
Eric rubbed his cheek and did not notice that the mosquito had fallen into his steaming bowl of soup.
It wasn’t until I read this blog post to Eric that he learned about his extra protein for dinner. “What if I get dengue fever?” he exclaimed.
I don’t know the answer to his question, but it did seem like a catchy title for a post.