“Fijese que” is a great term – as long as it’s not being said to you. Why? Because it’s the equivalent of “Well, you see…”. It is almost always followed up with some kind of excuse or bad news.
Do you have cinnamon here? “Fijese que we’re all out.”
Which way to the springs? “Fijese que you really shouldn’t go up there without a guide.”
I’m here for my meeting. “Fijese que that person isn’t here right now/doesn’t work here anymore/doesn’t exist.” (yes, all three have happened to me)
It didn’t take very long in country for me to develop an automatic gut reaction to hearing the words. If it is uttered within a thirty-foot radius my stomach lurches and I utter a mental “Uh-oh.” However, it’s not all bad, as I, and other volunteers have adopted it as a way to make light of strange or unfortunate situations.
Eric and I were walking along the highway looking, in vain, for food during a half hour stop on our journey east. When we had got out of the vans the instructors had said, “There are some good comedors (small eateries) near here” and left us to fend for ourselves. We resolved not to resort to buying Doritos at the gas station, but were wary of the fried chicken sitting in baskets on tables lining the parking lot. So we set off in search of the comedors. Clearly, it sounds easier than it was.
Almost every building had a sign claiming that it was a comedor, but none seemed to be operating that particular day. We went into several and inquired, but pretty much just got stared at. Finally, we spotted a building with a sign that had a GIANT hamburger and tacos on it. Jackpot. Except not at all. We walked out hamburgerless. I turned to Eric and couldn’t help but laugh. “Fijese que of course they don’t have food here! I must have totally misunderstood the five foot high hamburger out front.”
And since then I’ve used it often.
“Fijese que this internet café doesn’t have internet right now.”
“Fijese que you can’t give this presentation because we decided to cancel school today.”
“Fijese que the post office doesn’t have stamps because the whole country ran out and we’re not getting more for a few weeks.”
Because if I don’t laugh at these things, they’ll slowly drive me insane.