Tuesday, 29 June 2010
By Mary B Summerlin who keeps a photostream at Flickr
Last spring, I and four other ladies went to Italy for two weeks. We would be staying in a villa on the Mediterranean Sea in Tuscany.
We arrived safely on a Sunday. We spent the rest of that day unpacking and reorienting ourselves. The next day, Monday, we went to a street market in a nearby town. It was full of material in many beautiful colors, many crafts, plants and vegetables, clothes and other household items. Our group of five split up and designated a meeting place for later.
I finished earlier than the others and was sitting on a bench in the parking lot. I was feeling pretty smug about myself. I was visiting in a foreign country, had learned the money system, had managed the airport routine and my friends and I were making plans to do many fun and exciting things. I was feeling so smug, I was great, on top of the world!!
A young African man came up to me with a sack of things to sell. They were pretty and colorful but I shook my head and said no. He offered more things and a price and remarked “good price, good price.” Each time he pulled something else out of the bag, I shook my head. Finally he gave up. Business was slow in the parking lot so he thought he would spend some time conversing with me.
Our conversation went something like this, with a lot of finger pointing and head nodding and shaking.
“You speak English?”
I nodded my head and said, “Yes.”
He shook his head and said, “Little English” and pointed to himself, “Very little.” Then he said, “You speak French?”
Once again I shook my head and said, “No.”
Then he asked, “You speak Spanish?”
Again I said, “No.”
Then he tried German and Africanize.I shook my head, no, for all. Then he shrugged his shoulders and pointed to me and used one finger and said, “You speak only English?”
I said, “Yes.”
He said, “Sorry,” shrugged his shoulders and walked away.
I didn’t feel so smug anymore. I felt dumb!! That young man, I’m sure, did not have the education I have but he could converse in many languages.
All of a sudden, I had a new perspective. I didn’t feel so smug anymore.
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