The other night, Alyssa and I made our way to our favorite tapas place on Van Dyck. We saved it for our final stop according to my old standby “save the best for last”. The place was curiously empty for 11:15. (Considering dinner starts around 9, restaurants are open fairly late, according to American standards.) I ordered our costillas, while Alyssa asked if they were closing. She turned to me, “They are closing,” she reported sadly. The proprietor was still happy to serve us, but he must have seen my look of surprise and responded to me, “Hace frio.” My surprise increased as I was sure my ears were deceiving me. I’ve learned a lot of Spanish in the past two months, but I came knowing that phrase. “Hace frio,” he repeated. “It’s cold”.

The reason he was giving me for closing early was that it was cold out. Now, I’m from Atlanta. People flip out when it hits below freezing, but stores don’t close. It was maybe 27°F outside, and Salamanca gets way colder than that. I fumbled for clarification, “Si, hace frio…pero….vale.” (yeah, it’s cold….but…ok). He probably thought I just didn’t understand. Maybe because I initially pronounced costillas wrong. Or because as Alyssa and I left, I couldn’t remember if the empujar plaque meant push or pull on the door and there wasn’t a handle or metal plate thingy to help me make that decision. In reality, with the exception of an epic ice storm that shut my southern city down for a week, I’ve never heard of a place closing because “it was cold” so I didn’t understand. I probably never will, and next time, I will just go there first so I’m not rushing through some really, really excellent ribs.


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