Sunday, January 8, 2012

You CAN buy alcohol in Saudi Arabia!


This is one of those purchases the Mister and I have waited a long time to make. We've needed a bottle of alcohol for a while now, but just haven't taken the time go to get some.

Alright, double meanings aside, we really have needed to get a bottle of rubbing alcohol for our first aid kit. Now that we've gotten the kitty, we've acquired an all new level of open wounds up and down our arms and legs (mental note: must get cat a scratching post). In the States, we would just head to the Walgreens and we'd get fixed up in no time.

But we're not in the States. We're in Saudi Arabia. There are no Walgreens here (much to our chagrin) and we weren't really sure it would be advised to just walk in to a pharmacy and ask for a bottle of alcohol. That sounded like a recipe for disaster.

So before setting out, the Mister and I each contacted our local experts. After assuring our friends that we didn't need the rubbing alcohol for any serious wounds, we got to the business of trying to explain what exactly rubbing alcohol is. Here's how my conversation went:

Me: Amy*, Tyler and I need some rubbing alcohol.
Amy: ...what?
Me: Well, that's what we call it at home. It's not really alcohol--well, it's alcohol, but you don't drink it.
Amy: ok...
Me: It's the stuff you put on cuts. It disinfects the cut.
Amy: You have a cut?
Me: No..well, kind of. But we just need this stuff. But I'm pretty sure that if Tyler walks into a pharmacy and asks for alcohol, he's going to get arrested.
Amy: Yeah, probably. What does it look like?
Me: Well, at home it comes in kind of a clear plastic bottle. 
Amy: And you call it alcohol?
Me: Yes. Technically it's called "isopropyl alcohol," but I don't think that'll work either.
Amy: Yeah. What did you call it again?
Me: Rubbing alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol.
Amy: Ok, let me google image it and I'll call you back.

I love it! This is how my anonymous source tries to decipher what the crazy gringos are asking her to translate! She Google image searches what we're talking about so she can see it and then she comes up with the Arabic term. It's genius! As long as there's a computer handy.

Anyway, 30 seconds later I had the Arabic translation for "rubbing alcohol" and I sent the Mister off.

He walked into the pharmacy and showed the man behind the counter the forwarded text message and said, "Hi. I'm looking for...this."

To which the pharmacist replied: "Oh! Isopropyl alcohol. Yeah, it's over there."

Vicariously yours,

*Names have been changed to protect translators that might not want to be identified.

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