One of the biggest and best things I learned while I was away traveling was the existence of Google Translate! Every traveler should know about this if they are going to a country where they don’t speak the language! It works for about 30 different languages.
As always, there is a story of how I learned about Google Translate. I was at Hotel Crossman in the Galapagos Islands and had been having some difficulties communicating. Let me just clarify that the staff were all very nice and willing to help, however I spoke pretty much zero Spanish and their English was very minimal.
One afternoon I came back to the hotel not knowing what my next tour or excursion was or what time someone would be picking me up. The guy at the front desk told me (or what I understood) was that someone would be picking me up in 30 minutes (at 1:30pm).
I went upstairs, got ready and returned to wait in the lobby for my driver. A couple of minutes after I had been waiting, the guy from the front desk came over and motioned for me to come to the front desk with him. On his computer he had pulled up Google Translate and showed me a message that he had written in Spanish, but it was translated into English.
The message explained that my driver would be there to get me at 3pm, not in 30 minutes. Wow! Was I ever thankful not to sit in the lobby for an hour and a half waiting for my driver. I was super excited that the staff member had thought about this and cared enough to try and find a way to communicate with me.
Further than that, Google Translate became my new BFF and translation miracle! Several times I typed messages in English and then ran downstairs to the front desk to explain something or to ask a question. Because of Google Translate I was able to better understand when and where my ‘included’ meals were, how to tell the restaurant who to bill and when my next tours were. Google Translate made a huge difference for me. I wasn’t really stressing over the communication challenges, but I didn’t shy away from a solution!
Google Translate also helped me get my laundry done, understand the price and when it would be ready … oh yeah and someone also wished me Happy Valentine’s Day by typing it in Google Translate. Awwww.
Now that I’m back in Canada I’m still using the program on a regular basis to try and learn new things that my Spanish program hasn’t taught me. I have a few people that I am trying to communicate with minimally in Spanish just to get practice. I can actually have full conversations with them in Spanish if I want, but I’m finding that doesn’t teach me as much because it takes all of the thinking out of of the process. It is kind of like cheating on a test.
Regardless, I love that I have the option to communicate in a language I don’t know! The downfall of course is that you need internet in order for it to work. You can also use it on your phone and I’ve now found out there are some really cool apps for translating although I haven’t tried any of them out yet. I’ll post about them when I find one that I love.
Go forth and try Google Translate! Communicate with people in other countries with other languages and enjoy great conversations with new friends!