An idiot abroad...

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OKAY, so ‘tengo mucho calor’ means ‘I am so hot’. Or roughly defined, means ‘I have much heat’.

This is what I meant and SHOULD have said – in Spanish – to Jacky’s mum while sitting round the dinner table having spent the day in the sun.

What I actually said was ‘estoy muy caliente’.

Which, to my utter horror, I’ve just been told means ‘I am so HORNY’.

Up until that point I thought my grasp of the Spanish language had been going pretty well.

I’m now physically cringing, pondering the notion that I may well have said this phrase more than once or twice to more than one or two people.

The neighbour? The neighbour’s young son? The old lady in the shop? Jacky’s sister?!

Dear god.

Potentially everyone I’ve met in the last week may well now have me down as some sort of English sex pest.

Thankfully Jacky’s dad didn’t hear me, and her mum simply laughed realising I didn’t mean to say it!

Adapting to life in a country where English is not the primary language is tough. There’s no two ways about it.

Our actions – as English – are also very different from what is considered to be the ‘norm’ for most other nations.

When we English see the sun we seem to like nothing more than to take off as many clothes as possible – as quickly as possible – lay down, and roast ourselves alive.

Don’t get me wrong, I get it. We’re starved of the sun in the UK so when the sun does shine, why not make the most of it?

“The BBC says the sun’s out for like 15 minutes in North Cornwall tomorrow... let’s go to Polzeath, hammer a wind break into the sand and get a tan!”

Gotta love the English.

Of course over here it’s different.

I’ve been here for a week and I haven’t seen one spot of rain. Just sunshine.

“It’s going to rain in a few minutes...” I said to Jacky’s dad a few days ago as I gazed up at a huge black cloud.

“No, no, no,” he replied.

Sure enough by the time you could say ‘cagoule’ the sun had burnt off the cloud and it was once again brilliantly sunny.

Yesterday I made a few curtains twitch by sitting outside the front of the house in the sun with my top off.

A guy walked past looking surprised.

“Esta MUY calor” (it’s very hot) he said.

“Si! Me gusta!” (yes, I like it) I replied.

“POR QUE?” (WHY?) he asked.

“Um... Soy Ingles!” (I’m English!) I said proudly.

Cue laughter and a shake of the head.

“Bueno, bueno...”

When the sun shines here everyone scurries inside into the shade. Somehow watching a movie inside, knowing it’s like 25 degrees and simply divine outside, just doesn’t feel right.

Besides, I want a tan. I don’t want to be known as the ‘pale English boy’ (or indeed sex pest) living up the road.

In a way I like being the odd one out over here. With England on the tv (actually winning games) in the Euros I also feel a huge sense of pride.

I can’t say it enough... ‘I have a Latin girlfriend’.

But Jacks seems to be equally proud to say she has an ‘English novio’.

Sure I’m also a foot-and-a-half taller than everybody else (Mexican people are pretty short) and like a giant but it’s kinda fun to be different.

Anyhow, the search for the holy kettle!!!

You know, after six days I found one! It was tucked away in a House of Fraser-style department store over here wedged in between lemon squeezers and electric whisks.

I guess they just didn’t know what it was, and gave it its home there.

Finally I felt relieved and reassured that I had proof that I wasn’t simply making up this mystical creation called a ‘kettle’.



Sure I also paid a grand fee for it but hey, it’s a home comfort.

So thank you to my former colleagues at The Herald for collecting the money to allow me to buy it.

Right, I’d best go and embarrass myself a little more.

Thanks for the lovely comments, and for taking the time to read this.

Muchas gracias mi amigos!

Tristan Nichols

Tristan is a multi award-winning journalist from England.

In his professional capacity he spent nearly a decade-and-a-half travelling the world covering breaking stories for the UK-based newspaper, 'The Herald'.

During this time he spent approximately four-and-a-half months on Afghanistan's frontline working as a writer/blogger/photographer and broadcaster for The British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS).

In his career he has worked in countries including Iraq, Brazil, Sierra Leone, Norway, The Falkland Islands, Bahrain, Brunei, and of course Afghanistan.

In his personal life he's travelled far and wide lapping up the atmosphere of some of the world's most beautiful, and undoutedly most unbeautiful places imaginable.

Having quit and boxed up the life he knew, he's relocated to Tijuana in Mexico to learn Spanish and be a fiance to the beautiful Jacky.

His popular travel blog 'Once Upon A Time In Mexico...' is regularly updated with unusual and humorous observations on his new life across the pond in the land of tacos and banda music.

Oh, and of course he's going to bullsh*t on about writing a book or a solo album for years to come.

For full details and biog, photographs, travel features and stories, and other interesting bits and bobs visit

Alternatively find him on Twitter by searching for: tristan_nichols


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