I am speaking german and english. Kasia speaks polish, german, english and a little bit spainish. We get told in Argentinia that most people in Brazil understands at least a little bit english. So we had the hope, that we will not get lost in Foz do Iguacu because we are not able to speak portugesian!
So we arrived with taxi from Argentinia (300 Pesos for the ride (14 Euro) – we ware not thinking on going by bus by this price) directly from one hotel to the other. But nobody speaks anything else then portugese! Good thanks that there is Google Translate. A few minutes later we had our room. Think back of the bureaucratically Argentina it was amasing. No password copies, to forms to be filled out, no creditcard which get copies with photocopier, no nothing – just getting the room key. Done! We even not had to pay for the room in advance. A complete culture shock, really!
Using Google Translate again we where able to tell them to call a taxi for us. Asking the driver if he speaks english the answer was: “No”. Asking if he speaks spanish the answer was: “a little” (which means much less than the little Kasia is speaking. So we had to explain what we need by using hands and feets. First an ATM and than a SIM card for our mobile phone and last a supermarket (water is the most important thing!). So the driver brought us to a gasoline station where we find 3 ATM machines and I ware lucky getting mone from one of them. Trying to catch money a second time (you will get not so much reals as you want to get in one transaction) it comes up with an error message: connection error, try later (hey it was portogese AND english!).
In the meantime Kasia tries to talk to the cashier finding a common language, but this failed! She speaks only portogese. Our driver noticed that we had troubled and came over to help. We where lucky! Because you will need a brazil personnel number (whatever it is) to by an SIM card and than you have to do a very complex initial konfiguration process to get an telefon number, select your tariff and activate it. Of course only in portogese. We would not be able to complete any of this steps.
Next stop Supermarket (it was just accross the street) and I can´t believe. It was a real supermarket. No a 300-400 squarefeed shop where you can´t turn without kicking something down. Arriving at the cashier she started with a flood of words. I tried in english and even spanish to explain that I do not speak portugese but she just ignored me. After a while when I was only head-shaking and shrugging she finally stopped and started working (scanning may goods). I was so happy that I had cash already and I do not have to pay with credit card…
After all the taxi driver brought us back to hotel. We where afraid what we will have to pay and where surpriesed: 40 reals (10 Euro)! So we asked him to catch us up 7pm for going for dinner.
Exactly 7pm a taxi arrives but it as a different driver. We where not sure if it is for us or not, to we tried it with english, spanish and hands and feeds again. Our luck, we seached for the restaurant in advance and where able to show the name and address of the restaurant on our mobile. While the 5 minute ride we tried to find out why he and not the other driver was comming, but we had no success. The language barrier was to big. During paying he asked where we from. So we said Austria an Poland and he started speaking polish! So we catch his business card and promised to call for the ride back to the hotel.
On the ride back he explained that his grantparants arrived from poland in 1909 and he was speaking only polish until we was about 5 years old. The polish community is quite small in Foz do Iguazu and he wasn´t in Poland yet (and probably will never go there).
Conclusion: What is the langugage you need on a world trip? English? Spanish? No! Only speaking polish you will come somewhere!