Melting Pot

Barcelona, Spain. International Airport. 3:05 p.m.

Standing at baggage claim, awaiting my adventure in this new country and looking forward to practicing some rudimentary Spanish that I kind of remember from high school, and as soon as I think it I find myself in this conversation:

[Enter, oldish man wearing no front teeth, chapped lips, and a blue blazer. He shuffles toward Andrea, standing at the baggage belt. And says…]

“No puedo encontrar mi equipaje.”

[No response]

“No puedo encontrar mi equipaje.”

[Startled] “Oh, um, me? Um…siento, hablo sólo un pequeño español.”

[Pause]

“No puedo encontrar mi equipaje!”

“Again, um, otra sir, no entiendo. Lo siento.”

[pause]

“Usted no es de España?”

“Nope.”

[pause]

[Louder] “No puedo encontrar mi equipaje!”

[To self] “Equipaje? What the hell does that mean?”

“Um, bags? Las bolsas están aquí.”

[Gestures to baggage belt directly in front of them.]

“No, no, usted no entiende.”  [Slower and louder] “¿Dónde está mi equipaje?”

“Oh, you don’t know where your bags are? Um…”

[Points to the arrivals screen.]

“Qué aerolínea? Did you fly? Where? Donde?”

“Nueva York”

“Claro. Belt tres.”

“Gracias señora. Buenas dias.”

[Man shuffles off. Andrea is left at baggage claim flustered, but smiling.]

Conversations like this happen quite frequently when I travel to Europe. In Turkey I was asked questions in Turkish, in Greece in Greek, even in New York I’ve been approached in Italian and Spanish. I guess I look Turkish, or Greek, or Spanish, or Italian. Is it my olive skin? My brown eyes? My chestnut hair? Could be.  The truth is my cultural heritage is a mix of Scottish, English and German. My family’s theory is that when the Romans conquered the British Isles during the Roman Empire, some burly Roman soldier found a Scottish milk-maid he fancied and made his love “official,”  thus securing my future as a melting pot person. I like it actually. I’m proud to be an American of diverse cultural heritage.

I wonder if I’ll be mistaken for Japanese on Thursday?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s