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“We” have officially “offended” the locals…

11 May 2008
by

It’s a good thing we’re leaving for Portugal tonight, as, apparently, we have less-than-endeared ourselves to the Spaniards this weekend. It’s only Sunday afternoon, and already I’ve been berated by a VERY pissed off neighbor and later (in an unrelated incident) got less-than-courteously asked to leave the sidewalk bar at which we were sitting. Stellar.

It started on Friday night when our Swedish roommates decided to have an impromptu party which included floor-stomping sing-alongs to ABBA (how cliché!) that lasted till 3a, after which, they migrated to a bar, only to return just as loudly 3 hours later, just in time for us to get up to go to the airport to pick up our dear friends who had flown in for the week. Again, stellar.

After we returned from the airport, we happened to meet our downstairs neighbor, an older gentleman in his mid- to late-60’s while waiting for the elevator. He sidled up to us (at this point, we didn’t know who he was) and asked if we lived in such and such apartment, to which, I stupidly responded “Yes, we do.” He responded that it was “quite a fiesta last night” to which I replied, “yeah, I think it was, sorry”. Why I apologized for a party of which I had no foreknowledge, no part in coordinating, nor in which I participated, I haven’t the foggiest. Trying to appease, I guess. This appeasement strategy backfired horribly, as I was subsequently berated—long enough for the elevator to arrive and pass 3x—about how I can’t be sorry (or sorry wouldn’t cut it) as this was the third time this has happened and “you northern Europeans and Swedes and North Americans come over here and do things you wouldn’t do in your own countries”, and how next time he’s going to call the police and yadda yadda yadda, to the point that I: a) lost track of the number of points to which I needed to respond and b) lacked the speed of thought to respond to said points as I had only enjoyed 2.5 hrs of sleep the night prior, and c) even if I did have the speed to think of words, my vocabulary is unable to allow me to express that “It wasn’t me, it was my Swedish roommates, and PLEASE, the next time they piss you off CALL THE POLICE because then WE will get some sleep too!”

His torrent continued until the elevator arrived a third time, upon which he entered it, and subsequently encouraged us to join him. I’m not sure what drugs he was on at the time that made him think we would actually get in the elevator with a screaming geriatric, so I told him no thanks, we’d take the stairs. As we reached the fourth floor on foot, the elevator opened and he emerged, continuing to yell at us as we climbed the next flight and slamming his door with a building-echoing thud. Stellar still.

That was yesterday.

Today, after a decent day of touring and hitting the big flea market, Plaza Mayor, and Sol, we ventured to an off-the-beaten-path plaza known for its numerous cervecarias in order to get off our feet and enjoy a cold one. Though there were 7 of us, we found tables at the far end of a cafe line, conscious of our potential to annoy other diners and subsequently taking all pains to avoid such offense. After 2 rounds of ordering both drinks and food (IN SPANISH!) we suddenly, for no apparent reason, received the check—from a different waiter than we had had all afternoon—who subsequently waited over our shoulders until we paid up.

Now, in the States this is a normal thing; in Spain however, they generally wait for you to ask for the check before they bring it to you (which can be hours if you’re not aware of the policy), considering it rude otherwise. Caught off guard, and under the steady gaze of the waiter #2, we paid up, questioning the whole time what offense we were guilty of to cause them to essentially ask us to leave. Though louder than a twosome, we were much tamer than our capabilities: we were nothing but polite to the staff; we spoke only Spanish; we weren’t camping, as we continued ordering; it was a FREAKIN’ SIDEWALK CAFE and not some intimate high-end restaurant; and though our particular topic of conversation at the time of check-receipt was a tad racy, we took pains to mask it in code and exercise some degree of class (which is a lofty goal for this group). Our only assumption was that the stodgy-looking couple next to us bitched about it and since we weren’t speaking Spanish to each other, the waiters had no issue telling us to leave.

So, just to recap: I got bitched out by a very pissed off neighbor for the noise of someone else’s party, and then got kicked out of a bar for being American (cause, bet yer boots, had we been habloing in Español, they would not have been so bold).

So, I guess it’s a good thing then that we’re heading to Portugal this week. It’ll give the locals a chance to calm down and realize, “hey, those tall white Dutch / German / American (?) kids are gone and it’s still loud here…it must be those damn Swedes!”

A man can dream…

Irritated by my lack of fluency
-bdmc

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Elizabeth permalink
    14 May 2008 8:00 am

    I much preferred Portugal to Spain anyway . . . how NICE are you to listen to a rant from that guy? I would have just waved my hand and jabbered back in Japanese and let him rant to the mirror . . you are VERY kind.

    Hope portugal is FABULOUS!!!

  2. Countess of Cava permalink
    14 May 2008 8:21 pm

    It is a shame that you could not make the man understand that while you do live in the maligned apartment, you are not the ones responsible for the noise and disruptions. He is correct, by the way, when he said that Europeans and Americans come to Spain to live and do things they would never do in their own country. Such rude behavior in an apartment building is unacceptable…it is not a college dorm, after all.

    Al and MC were not just acting kindly, they were behaving like mature adults living temporarily in a country other than their own. Other travelers should follow their example.

  3. mme. hoolaha permalink
    15 May 2008 12:44 pm

    Well said, Countess!

  4. 16 May 2008 9:28 am

    Portugal is one of my favorites. I hope you hit up the smaller towns like Estoril and Cascais. Have fun.

  5. conison permalink
    17 May 2008 12:57 pm

    Heather – we did end up going to Cascais – it was gorgeous!

  6. Spirit of 73 permalink
    19 May 2008 3:23 pm

    Prefer Portugal to Spain? Portugal is where Spanish sewage workers live when they’re not cleaning Spanish restrooms. The turd fumes have so infected their brains that their Spanish sounds all funny and consequently they aren’t allowed to be a part of Spain.

    There’s somethign awfully suspicious about someone who MUCH prefers Portugal to Spain. I smell a communist.

  7. conison permalink
    19 May 2008 4:43 pm

    spirit – am i going to have to start censoring you? let’s try not to start wars…

  8. Spirit of 73 permalink
    20 May 2008 9:27 pm

    You should probably censor me, because that comment is very obviously serious, from start to finish.

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  1. W”Ad”ing: The Invasion of Iberia by Tall, White Americans, Vol. 1 « The World According to Conison

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