Visiting the Doctor

Visiting the Doctor

Visiting the Doctor

Speaking Spanish at the clinic in Tenerife

When you consider the lengths that the UK has gone to in order to ensure that practically every one and their Aunty living in the UK can be spoken to in their native tongue, some expats find it a bit galling to go to the doctor here in Tenerife and have to speak Spanish. I am not one of them. While my Spanish is deplorable – that’s mostly because I ‘m thick and not because I haven’t tried to learn the lingo.

I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect someone living here to at least make an attempt at the language, do you? In fact I think it is a privilege to be able to send my two kids to Spanish state school. Speaking both English and Spanish from an early age is good for their brains and their future. It is also great for me, because when I find myself in a Spanglish knot they are on hand to help me unravel it.

In Tenerife, the locals don’t seem to mind that much if you mangle the language a bit. It’s not like in France where a shoddy French accent will make you as welcome as a maivais odeur. Well, most locals won’t mind. One place that you do need to either speak Spanish or bring a Spanish speaker with you is at the clinic.  It is not at all unusual for the doctors that are treating you to be able to speak English perfectly well. They just do not see why they should if you haven’t gone to the bother of picking up a few basics.

So… here are a few useful phrase for visiting the doctor in tenerife.

Doctor, Doctor, I have a pain in my…

(Pain equals dolor so if all else fails just squeak ‘dolor’ and point to the sore bit. )

  • I have a headache – Tengo dolor de cabeza
  • I have pain behind my eyes – Tengo un dolor detras de los ojos
  • I have chest pain – Tengo un dolor en el pecho
  • I have a pain in my stomach – Tengo un dolor de estomago
  • I have a sore throat – Tengo dolor de garganta
  • I have a backache – Tengo dolor de espalda

Note: All of the above can also use ‘me duele’ as in ‘me duele la cabaza’. The difference is that the first means I have pain, the second means it hurts… so I have a headache / my head hurts. 


You may want to describe the type of pain:

The pain is continuous – El dolor es continuo

The pain comes and goes – El dolor es intermitente

I feel dizzy / faint. – Me siento mareado.

I have a headache  (show where ) – Tengo dolor de cabeza aqui.




Do You Have to Learn Spanish to Learn Spanish?

I bumped into a Spanish friend that I haven’t seen recently and she had a good laugh at me as I mangled all the Spanish I had learned since I saw her last.  I told her I had been taking adult Spanish lessons at the Cutural Centre before the school broke up and said she would never have guessed. (Cheeky besom!)

Then Paola went on to ask why I stopped posting the Sugar Sachet Spanish series I used to post in Tenerife Tattle.  She said that even as a native Spanish speaker she found the Spanish quotes that I dug up interesting and my interpretation of them worth a laugh. I am not sure she meant to be complimentary with that last statement but she is right, I used to have a lot of fun with the Sugar Sachet Spanish series.

There  is a little cafe in Las Galletas owned by the lovely Maria.  From time to time she gets in boxes of sugar sachets which are printed with Spanish quotations. I stopped taking sugar years ago but I always pinched her sachets so I could print the quotes on the blog. It got to the point where I had gone through all the Spanish quotations in the box. Maria got a kick out of finding me ones I hadn’t used before but eventually we had gone through them all. For a while I used other sources and then to my surprise Maria found a different style of sugar sachet. These had odd facts printed in Spanish. Things like …Did you know an elephant is the only animal that can’t jump? When I had gone through them, Maria surprised me with a book called the Anthologia de Frases Célebres. What a sweetheart!

Pamela Heywood of Secret Tenerife fame also sent me a fabulous source of Spanish quotes so I had lots of material to work with. On top of that I used to print the lyrics of Spanish songs and of course, with the kids at Spanish school I am a killer at Spanish nursery rhymes.

Paola pointed out that before I ever took that Spanish class, I paid more attention to the language and I enjoyed it more. I generally understood what was being said and could make myself be understood. She thinks that concentrating to much on Spanish verb conjugations is getting in the way of actually speaking Spanish.

I think she’s right! The adult education classes will start back up in October and I will be hoping to squeeze in again but in the meantime I am happy to annouce to Paola that I am going to resurrect my Sugar Sachet Spanish series.  I ended up incorporating more than the Sugar Sachet quotations but the idea is the same – a quick five minute look at a Spanish quotation, joke, song…whatever I happen to find.

Because it was Maria’s sugar sachets that started the whole thing I’ll call the series The Spanish Cafe and you will find a link to it on the nav bar. I hope you join me in there as it was a good laugh the last time. Besides as Paola would say, “El campo fértil no descansado, tórnase estéril.”