Thursday, May 27, 2010

You're Not Speaking My Language!!!

The year I turned 21, my junior year of college, I did a semester abroad in Ireland.


What I wouldn't give to go back. What I wouldn't do to feel that carefree again. It was so awesome. And to be honest, I knew it. I could feel my future closing in on me. I knew that I was staring my college graduation in the face and that any non-debt-incurring, non-child-tagalonging fun that I wanted to have, had to be had that semester.

The fun I had was (mostly) the innocent kind. I traveled more in those 5 months than in the rest of my whole lifetime. I saw most of Ireland, the countryside and the towns and the cities. I kick myself that I never went to England or Scotland. (I had some weird prejudice that they thought all Americans were stupid turds. So of course I thought THEY were stupid turds. I might as well have said "nannie nannie boo boo".)

Spring break that year rocked. While all of my friends took road trips to Florida and got stuck in the huge spring snowstorm of '93, I flew to Rome for a week, visiting the Vatican and the Colosseum and the Forum. Every morning we bought a banana and a liter of water from a local vendor for about a buck. I drank my first (and definitley the best) ever cappucino and tasted Gelato too. After Rome, we took a train across Italy and caught a boat over to Greece. We arrived at the Pink Palace in Corfu (touted as the backpackers version of Animal House) and were sorely disappointed. The silver lining? I did get to meet Boner from Growing Pains. No ladies, I did not get his autograph.

After Corfu, we boarded the Magic Bus and drove across Greece to Athens, and then hopped onto a ferry that took us to a small nearby island, Aegina. Ah.... so peaceful. So beautiful. So filled with history and mystery and.... yes there were typical touristy traps. But I didn't see a single t-shirt that said anything about "My sister went to Greece and all I got was this lousy t-shirt".

While we were in Italy, my friends and I saw the Italian men in all their splendor. Gorgeous they are. Gorgous, and relentless. My friend Tricia looked like a typical Irish girl, even though she was from Connecticut. She had fair skin and freckles, and long curly dark hair. Linda was part Vietnamese, so naturally she looked very Asian. But I? I was blonde. So of course, everyone in Ireland assumed I was from California. Becaue, you know, all blondes originate from California, I guess. But anyway, I guess in Italy the blonde hair must be some sort of homing beacon, because all the men would go zooming by on those damn Vespas and shout, "Bella! Bella!" Finally one evening, when my friends and I were plumb tuckered out and just ready to fall into our cruddy hostel beds, we were approached by a few Italian guys. Like I said, total eye candy, but we just weren't up for it that evening. As the main Vespa-driver approached me I pulled from my sleeve the last trick I had in my repertoire...
Him: Bella! Bella! Parla Italiano?
Me: ??? (faking my best confused look)
Him: Uh, Espanol?
Me: No, No.
Him: Ah... English? Speak English?
Me: (Shaking my head) Sprechen sie Deutch?
Him: Deutsch? Deutsch?
Me: Ja! Ja! Deutsch!
Him: no... and he slinks away all sad and mopey. I almost felt bad for him. Almost.

Rome is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

Okay, maybe I would.

This post was written for MamaKat's Writer's Workshop!

1.) Describe a time when you had difficulty communicating with someone who speaks a different language than you.

Mama's Losin' It

Texan Mama


~ M ~ said...

Hahahaha great experience tho'! Sure would be something you'd never forget.

Stopping by from Mama Kat's

Life with Kaishon said...

What a funny thing to say : ) Hilarious : ) I would love to visit there!

Sturgmom said...

That sounds like a wonderful trip! Jason and I went to Paris on our honeymoon and only spent a day in London. We, too, regret not spending additional time there.

And very clever of you to pull out the German!

Jennifer said...

I never thought I would get to see any of those place, but then I married a man in the military and we lived in England. It was awesome! We traveled all over England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales and took several trips to Paris and a week-long vacation in Italy. We didn't have kids while we were overseas so that we could enjoy it easily and freely. I regret not seeing more too. I would love to go back and see more of Rome, Greece and Germany.

Jeanette said...

What a fun story! And how quick you were to come up with a way to throw that guy off. I would have never thought of it.

Jennifer said...

That is hilarious. And I can not imagine not being up for an Italian hotty when I was a teenager. You know, other than the fact that I was married and all settled down already.

Bear and Bones Mama said...

That sounds just LOVELY!! I love to travel and the one place I'm dying to go is Greece. I have this vision of it and I, oh, I just cannot wait. One day. I do have a funny story about being in Mexico for spring break my junior year of college. My friend (and yes, it really was her (this time) not me, drank too much, um, orange juice, and I had to take her back to the hotel early. I got us a cab and we were driving down a lonely stretch of road when she vomits. I automatically try to catch it. Yes. I. Did. (early mom instincts coming out?) The driver pulls over and wants to leave us on the side of the road, yelling at us in Spanish. I knew some Spanish, but suddenly in my own drunken state I became very fluent and convinced him, for lots more money, to take us the rest of the way to the hotel. Ay yi yi.

parentingBYdummies said...

I'd love to live in Rome. Or anywhere that's not Maryland. Okay, maybe not ANYWHERE. But some other places for sure. Sounds like a fun time!

Amy O'Connor said...

Whaaat?! You mean you didn't get Boner's autograph? You know, he passed away not too long ago and it could have been worth something. Well, maybe.

It sounds like you had an awesome time! Living here in Texas, if you don't know Spanish, you often run into communication difficulties, right?!

Anonymous said...

I guess if you absolutely HAVE to turn away a fine looking Italian guy, that's a good way to do it. Something tells me I won't ever need the tip, though. :-)

Mama Kat said...

You're lucky you picked a language they didn't know!! Sounds like they were pretty fluent in a few! :)

KLZ said...

I'm amazed that he even asked if you spoke Deutsch if he didn't. Weirdo. Persistent weirdo at that.

Wendy said...

I love this post! Bella!

Blonde hair is a beacon is some parts of Asia. On a little island in the Philippines people followed me around and touched my head. I haven't traveled much since college, either. Though I'm jealous you got to go to Italy! That is #1 on my hit list.

MaBunny said...

Hi! I hopped on over here from the Writers workshop. Love this post. I've always dreamed of going to Italy, Ireland, Scotland - all of that. One can only hope.
You must have been pretty beat that evening to turn down hot looking Italian men, lol.

Baby Aanestad said...

Hehe. Great memories and nice story - not to mention the great line you threw at the ragazzo hahaha. Funny.

I'd love to go to Ireland some time. I have a few great friends from there. And a couple of treasure memories too. ;)

Have a great evening!