Learning a new language has its moments.

And as I settle into living in Albania, I've had a couple of mishaps. 

Probably about three of them.

Maybe four.

No, definitely more than four. 

So, this is just one example.

But, first, a little bit of context. 

The world knows this language as Albanian. 

To Albanians, it's known as Shqip.

And it's tough.

There are days when I feel like I am trying to hack a computer code

or line up all the colors on a rubix cube.

Except, in this case, the colorful cubies turn all by themselves.

I say this for good reason.  

Each cubie on this rubix cube represents a word, and that word can change direction at any time.

It can move left or right, up or down.

The words change endings when:

1) something is singular or plural: book or books

2) masculine or feminine: book (masc. in Albanian) or car (feminine in Albanian)

3) definite or indefinite : a book, this book

Plus, you have 5 grammatical cases to contend with.

So, when you speak this unique Indo-European language the words have a power all of their own. 

Moving from sentence to sentence, the same word will change depending on how you use it.

Is it a subject? the object? 

It changes.

And it changes again. 

And again.

You get what I'm saying.

So, something is eventually bound to go wrong when you speak. 

It's just a matter of time. 

Really, the odds are not in your favor.

So, let's get to the intro.

Now that my home is outside of California, what should I say when people ask me where I live?

Sometimes I say, "I lived in California, but I live here now." 

Other times, "I'm from the United States"  or "I'm from Mexico."

But a friend of mine had an interesting perspective, " I think that the world is your home."


"I like the sound of that."

So, i decided to tweak my intro.

"Hello. My name is Ricardo and I am from earth."

I thought this little change would help me break the ice.

People might even find it funny

and possibly it would make me look interesting. 

But, I didn't get any chuckles.   

In fact, there were blank stares, followed by silence, then more stares, and ending with a few words that I didn't understand.

My intro,

"Pershendetje. Une quhem Ricardo dhe une jam nga ne toke"

which I thought was a correct translation of the above statement, translated to:

"Hello. My name is Ricardo and I am from hell."

I had accidentally added the word "ne" which changed everything to literally mean that I was from the underworld. 

One local remarked during our brief conversation, " You shouldn't say those things. Albanians are very superstitious."

She was not happy and felt that I had really pushed past what was considered appropriate.

To make things worse, by that point I had already told everyone I met:

the baristas at the coffee shop on my corner ( I don't go in there anymore for obvious reasons)

my tailor at the shop downstairs

the water delivery guys

Basically, I went around telling the whole city.

My attempt to portray myself as a global citizen had fallen flat

crashing through the levels of Dante's Inferno

and conjuring images of a crazy foreigner led by six-headed hell hounds while careening down the river Styx.

I know. I'm mixing up my stories.

But, I've learned my lesson. 

Well, kind of.

So, allow me to introduce myself.

"Hello. My name is Ricardo and I am from hell."

Where are you from?

And if you say earth, I got your back. 

 Hello. My name is Ricardo and I am from hell.


                                    July 07, 2023