When Greg and I ordered lunch one day in Santa Elena, Greg told the waiter he wanted a blackberry juice. They have many types of juice in Costa Rica, and the blackberry is especially good. Greg pointed at the menu to be sure the waiter — who spoke some English — understood what he wanted. A few minutes later, the waiter delivered our food to the table, along with a big mug of yellow liquid for Greg. “Umm, blackberry juice?” Greg asked the waiter, indicating the yellow liquid.
“Si!” the waiter said.
The waiter walked away, and Greg sipped his juice.
“This is beer,” Greg said.
“Yes, it looks like beer,” I said. “Why did the waiter say it was blackberry juice? Greg, you should call him back over here. You ordered blackberry juice.”
Greg isn’t much of a beer drinker, and his brew of choice is usually Guinness or some other stout, certainly nothing bright yellow. I desperately wanted to correct the waiter. He needed to know that this drink was not blackberry juice. How could he possibly work as a waiter if he couldn’t see the difference between blackberry juice and beer?
I walked to the front counter, grabbed a menu, and confronted the waiter.
“Blackberry juice?” I asked, pointing to the menu and then to Greg’s drink. The waiter couldn’t see what I was pointing at. We walked back to the table.
“Blackberry juice?” I asked again, louder, as if that would help.
“No!” the waiter said, looking at me as if I were crazy. “Imperial!” (Imperial is the most popular beer in Costa Rica.) The waiter clearly thought I was a cuckoo American. How could I confuse juice with beer?
After a few more crazy looks from the waiter, we dug into our meals. We were in Costa Rica, where things are a little more laid back, where blackberry juice and beer might be considered about the same thing. They’re both liquids, right? Greg drank the “blackberry juice.”