After adding a pot of Mexican Feather Grass to our Valencia terrace (at a very dear price), we struggled to keep our cats from eating it down to the nubs. So, I decided we should plant some cat grass for them.
Now back in the U.S. I avoided the expensive Cat Grass packages sold in pet stores in favor of the bulk wheat seed sold at the supermarket. So one recent evening while Jamie, Lizzie, and I were out for our walk, we passed an Eco Organic supermarket and I thought I’d just pop in and find wheat to plant for cat grass.
Thus began another adventure in applied Spanish.
The bulk section had nothing that looked like the wheat germ I bought in the U.S. I used Google Translate to find the Spanish word for wheat, which is trigo. Then I went back through the bulk section looking for anything that had trigo in fairly large letters on the label. No luck. This was going to require a conversation with a store clerk that I hadn’t planned out in advance.
So, I brought out my Tarzan Spanish once again. “Necesito trigo para mi gatos.” (I need wheat for my cats.). The clerk looked at me with a blank expression and called over his campeñero. I tried again, and had two confused clerks trying to help me. Then, they called over yet another clerk. One who spoke a little English. Still, she was baffled about why I would want trigo for my cats. I tried to explain that I plant it in la tierra (the earth) because I didn’t know the word for soil. I called the end product “pasture” which I thought was the correct word for grass. Later, my Spanish teacher told me the correct word for grass or lawn is “el césped”. But that wouldn’t have helped.
The store clerks never understood why the crazy, foreign cat lady wanted wheat but they found a bag for me. I bought it for €1.50 and walked out of the store with my head held high. Of course, Jamie, thinking I had died in the store, was at the curb waiting for the ambulance he had called.
Ordering a taxi in the middle of the night, or buying cat grass on a whim are my lessons in applied Spanish and not to be confused with efficient shopping.
The wheat I bought was sold as a breakfast cereal and we wondered if it had been toasted or processed in a way that would prevent germination. But not a problem — just five days later, the cats are enjoying their sprouted wheat grass.
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Susan Carey retired in 2017 after a long business career most recently in animal welfare leadership. She writes about her experiences as a recent retiree living in Spain. Susan lives in Valencia, Spain with her husband, Jamie, and the senior pets they brought with them from the United States.