Don’t Cry for Me Argentina!

18 08 2010

The scene of the crime...

I have learned not to try to use what little Spanish I know when visiting Spanish-speaking countries. If you are somewhere such as Guadalajara or downtown Los Angeles and you say buenos dias to someone, they naturally assume you’re fluent. Then you have to spend the next 15 minutes trying to explain that you don’t know enough Spanish to converse with them. Most folks understand when they recognize your ignorance of the language and are very patient and cooperative in their efforts to communicate with you. A small minority of natives, however, once they learn you are a foreigner, will be resentful and completely uncooperative.

I was in Buenos Aires on business and had the day free to do a little sight-seeing. I decided to walk downtown with my camera and get some pictures. This was before the age of digital photography so here I go, camera around my neck and pockets bulging with film. I refuse to wear one of those obnoxious, geeky-looking fanny packs. Nothing says tourist like a nylon bucket strapped around your waist. I’d rather wear a dress with moon boots than strap one of those things on. As I walked toward a park, I passed by a restaurant. A young lady stood in the open door holding a paper bag. As I passed by, she smiled and spoke. I didn’t understand what she said to me but I could tell it was more than just hello. She could have noticed the film bulging from my pockets and was trying to sell me a fanny pack. But whatever words she used were not among my muy poquito vocabulary de español, so I smiled in response and continued to walk.

Where’s a Translator When You Need One?!

I arrived at the park, another block or two away, where I found lots of photo opportunities. The park was filled with kids, water fountains, statues and birds-lots and lots of birds. It was, what one might call, a target-rich environment if you’re out to shoot pictures. As I focused my camera on the architecture of a nearby building, a young couple ran up to me and began chattering away about something. Try as I might, I was only able to translate a couple of words of their Spanish. All I could make out was, “Senoir, something something something birds something something and something else! At first I thought it might be some kind of scam. The jokes on them, I thought to myself. I didn’t know enough Spanish to fall for their ruse. Then I began to realize they were desperately trying to tell me something of some urgency. The first thing that came to mind was to check my zipper. Nope, that wasn’t it. Then they began pointing behind me. I looked back expecting to see someone running down the street with my wallet. Didn’t see anything.

Realizing there was a communication problem, they resorted to charades. The young man was running around flapping his arms as if they were wings while, at the same time, he would raise one leg and make a chicken sound like, “bock, bock, bock!” He looked like George Lopez doing a Big Bird imitation. All the while, the young girl was pulling at the side of my shirt as if trying to pull the back around toward the front.

Finally, I saw that she was trying to show me a bird had deposited something onto the back of my shirt and pants.

By the time I had caught on and thanked the young couple, the chicken imposter had picked up about ten bucks in tips from passersby. I thought if I weren’t covered in bird crap I’d hang out in the park and try to pick up a few tips myself. If they like his Big Bird shtick that much they should love my Macarena. I might pick up enough to cover airfare back home. But I figured it was in my best interest to return to my hotel and change clothes.

Back at the hotel, when I removed the nature-stained clothes, I realized there was an awful lot of bird poop down the back. It then occurred to me that was more poop than one bird should be allowed. If this was bird poop the bird that dropped it would have to be the size of a Cessna. So, it was either a giant bird or the work of a gang. I quickly ruled out the giant bird theory. As for the possibility of it being a gang, well, surely Argentinean birds aren’t so advanced they have learned to conspire against tourists. Could there be pigeon gangs-the Bloods and the Crips? Except in this case, I guess they’d be called the Craps. Do they have initiation rituals during which they dive bomb the yankee tourist with the camera around his neck. I soon ruled that one out too.

Pack it or Leave it?

I had a flight home in a few hours so I got the plastic laundry bag from the closet. As I was packing the soiled clothes into it, I got a whiff and it had a sort of sweet smell to it. I moved in closer for a better sniff. Yep, it was sweet smelling. I know what you’re thinking and no, I did not taste it. But I was able to determine it was some kind of sweet mustard. Then I remembered the young lady standing in the restaurant doorway. I can only surmise that she felt insulted by my non-response and decided to squirt me with honey-mustard or whatever this concoction was.  I wish I’d have known it wasn’t bird poop; I’d have stayed at the park and danced my Macarena.




2 responses

18 08 2010
Jackie Garner

As usual Bill, you have me falling over with laughter.Very visual ….love your wit and writing

18 08 2010
Bill Taylor

I’m so glad I can bring a smile to your face. If anyone has earned a laugh it’s Lollibells! You must be a subscriber or was just sitting there waiting for the next post. You commented before I even got my fingers off the keys. Take care of LB.

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