After a long day of hiking, which of course I had not brought sunscreen, bug spray, a map or water for, but managed to snap several hundred photos of the same waterfall that no one will ever look at but me, I was ready for nothing more than a relaxing evening in my hotel. I got a screaming deal on this thing because it had just opened and they were looking for guests to come and stay. So I scored a nice balcony overlooking the pool I never got to use (but the huge ‘hot’ tub filled with bugs where I made instant best friends with cousins from Hawaii on a soul-searching adventure. God bless traveling.) AND a king-sized bed. Despite graduating up to a Queen sized bed this year, I still sleep like I’m on a twin in college dorms. But it’s nice to have a huge space to throw all your clothes on and lose your sunglasses.
The dollar goes far in Argentina, especially when you find a guy going “cambio cambio” and get a better exchange deal. So I did not hesitate to indulge. After a long shower and some mini-bar treats, I pulled on some leggings, already sore from the hiking, and slipped on my Birkenstocks. Now, I know leggings are, for some silly reason, something people feel compelled to discuss as if you have any right to decide what I think is appropriate to wear in public. But for the record, my bum was covered by a cardigan, and my leggings were thick Target brand heather grey, all the better to not tempt you with (I know I’m packing back there).
I moseyed down to the hotel restaurant and plopped into a booth, next to a table that held two older Americans. Anxious to recover my fluency, I was speaking Spanish as much as I could on the trip, and ordered in Spanish and then set back to my version of Heaven on earth – red wine, my journal, a brand new sparkly gel pen, and my cellphone. I had my ipod with me, too, and nearly loaded it up. But I am so glad I didn’t. Because what happened next will shock you. (That was my attempt at clickbait, but like, you’re already here. you’ve clicked.)
My initial facebook status update from that night says this:
Today just won’t quit. Currently at dinner, sitting next to an older American couple who does not realize I speak English (I ordered in Spanish). They went to a wedding and are discussing Vickis cheating husband who was flirting with the young girls, the money hungry bride, the too-sparkly-for-her-taste dress, their friends timeshares, how he’s getting a little chubby for that suit. Then they started talking a little smack about Argentina and her people and her food. THEN they started talking about me! Why am I alone, what am I eating, where am I from. Discussing my leggings and Birkenstocks and how inappropriate they are for dinner (we are in our own hotel!).
Trying to decide when to drop the English…..
And I kind of thought it would end there with a few of the facebook options for emotions popping up and a comment or two. But no, suddenly quite a few people were interesting in joining my journey, and I began live faceing the night. Or whatever the correct term is. You can read the full post of nonsense here.
What I loved about it was that people from all different times and places of my life came out of the woodwork to offer support or suggestions. People said they were delaying dinner, keeping the kids up past their bedtime, waiting for the next move like Beyonce was about to drop a new single. Meanwhile I was doing my best to stifle giggles, which only became more and more difficult after each glass of wine I ordered to give reason for staying at the table well past my meal (which they judged). Despite multiple requests, I just couldn’t be a person who would post photos of a holes on the internet and embarrass them. They deserved it, absolutely, but . . . .I don’t know. I’m not in charge of justice. Thank God. They’ll meet it when one of their perfect children marries a patriarchy smashing, multi-ethnic, bleeding heart liberal like me who refers to her family as a ‘tribe’ and raises all their grandchildren barefoot with names like “Courage” and “Fleetwood” and “Doorknob” or whatever phase I’m in at the time. (I do really like doors.)
In the end, through their wine-fueled haze of lust, I know they heard me drop the Spanish and order another glass of wine in perfect English as they left their table. And when I woke up the next morning with that same full glass of wine on my nightstand, I had a good long laugh going back and rereading the entire post. You guys are good people.
I dressed for justice the next morning, hoping to meet them at breakfast, but they were on a long old people day at the Falls. I saw their group in the lobby later, too exhausted to be rude.
The whole thing felt quite surreal. We were in a Wonder of the World, and yet they assumed no one around them could speak English? Felt they could pass judgment on a woman eating dinner by herself? They felt compelled to trash all their friends whose wedding they had just been to, the country they were in, its food, people, nature, weather?
I just hope that my conversations never sound like to an outsider. Surely there are so many wonderful things and people and experiences in this world to talk about, I would never have to judge the
lonely sad solo and brave girl next to me, dressed inappropriately traveling on a teacher’s salary to see something beautiful, spending all her time on her phone, these damn kids! texting friends and family back home, her sandals are on the bench! can you believe! full of blisters and sore muscles and elevating a fractured foot, but paying the same amount of hard-earned cash as you to eat a nice meal on vacation.
She just happens to speak three languages and can understand every ignorant word you say, and is offended on many levels by your comments, and is sorely tempted to tell you just how much . . . but instead she will just order another glass of wine, enjoy her chicken salad, and write this blog.
If you haven’t heard it today and you need to . . . be kind to one another. Learn from one another. Speak well of one another. Enjoy life.