Monday, September 20, 2010

I do try, honestly...

Yes, I try to be open-minded and have unconditional positive regard for Americans, but the majority of them don't make it easy !

For the second time on a Manuel Tienda Leon shuttle bus from Buenos Aires international airport into the city I have had to listen to cringe-making conversation involving a citizen of the USA. I saw this woman consider sitting next to me as she boarded the bus, but the fact that I was reading probably put her off and she chose another victim to sit beside. The poor person who had to listen to her was a Chilean woman.

For the next 40 minutes, USA-lady pestered the woman with comments in broken English and -- bizarrely -- the occasional "je suis", as if French was going to be appropriate. She made the extraordinary claim that she knew a few words of Spanish, then proceeded to ask her victim what "today" and "Monday" were in Spanish. USA-lady said she was living and working in Chile, yet she appeared to know no Spanish whatsoever. She also claimed to have lived in Nigeria at some point in her life.

As the bus neared its downtown destination, USA-lady spotted a statue and asked her victim "is that a saint" ? She repeated it several times, as if that was going to make it a sensible question, and went on to suggest that the building behind it could be a church. "NO", I screamed internally, "It's Christopher Columbus, and that's the Casa Rosada... the most famous building in the whole of Argentina". USA-lady then dug out her city map and stared at it for several minutes in a vain attempt to work out where she was or what the building could be.

The other occasion when this happened was my first arrival in Buenos Aires. An elderly American man wouldn't stop talking, loudly and in simpleton language of course, to the driver. He claimed to be an author, and went on and on about his books. I had never heard of him and had no intention of remembering his name or trying to find any of his work in print.

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