I wanted to add some squash to a soup I was cooking the other day, so I ran over to one of our local stores a few blocks down the street. The store is one of the bigger ones in the neighborhood, about the size of a small convenience store...they sell a variety of vegetables and fruits, meats, dairy products, snacks, grocery and household items, and also things like chile relleno (stuffed chilies) and frijoles (cooked pinto beans sold in bags). I looked over the vegetable counter, but no squash.
I decided to buy a gallon of milk and a couple of other things and while paying, I asked if they had calabaza, squash. One of the two ladies there, said sure! Right over here...but it turned out to be small, zuchini-like squash commonly called calabazín...not what I wanted. So I asked them if they had any other kind of calabaza.
Results...blank looks. I began to describe it, you know, it's big (motioning with hands)...a lot larger than these calabazín, green on the outside, orange inside, you can toast the seeds to eat? Again, blank looks.
Then the first lady said, oh, papaya? No, I said, usually you eat it in soups...the other lady then exclaimed chayote! I was getting kind of frustrated at this point because papaya is not related to calabaza at all and it's not common to toast the seeds to eat. And chayote isn't large or even orange inside!
I had pretty much given up all hope of successful communication and was feeling like a very silly gringa who can't talk right, when the first lady said, oh, calabaza! No, no, we don't have any.