Tuesday, November 29, 2011

please hide the americans

after dinner was over, the flight attendants turned down the lights and the passengers read or watched movies or slept. i found myself dozing on the journey from washington to rome, not really falling asleep, not dreaming or drooling or snoring, but trying to locate some sort of state of rest, i guess you could say. i would love to be able to sleep sitting up on a plane, but it's impossible to get comfortable enough to get any real z's in fun economy seats that don't recline and are always generally stiff and uncomfortable.

somewhere in the midst of my small mock rest some visions started floating around in my head. they were not pleasant ones.

later, as the sun rose on a new day in italy, and i watched its fiery glow on the eastern horizon through the ice speckled window while we curved around liguria, past the apuan alps, and down toward rome, i experienced some more visions—this time wide awake ones—and again, they were not altogether pleasant.

i was envisioning americans, and oh how i hoped i would not end up in hotels with lots of them; and oh how i crossed my fingers and wished i would not hear their american voices on every street corner and in every restaurant; and oh how i just wanted to enjoy italy, listening to and seeing italians—that shouldn't be too much to ask for, right? italians in italy?—and be away from seemingly ever-present americans.

i don't dislike americans—ha, i am an american. it's just that sometimes american tourists can be a bit, shall we say, much—a bit loud, a bit demanding, a bit embarrassing, a bit off-putting—i'm an american and proud of it—instead of just blending in and going with the flow. i think trying to blend in, doing what the italians do when you're in italy, is what a good tourist should do.

brush up on your italian and put it to good use greeting shopkeepers, innkeepers, and restaurant employees with a buongiorno or buona sera, and hopefully more, instead of simply assuming english will automatically be spoken (which it will, because italians do). your accent gives you away, but at least you're trying.

and don't expect restaurants and italian hotel rooms to be identical to those in the states (unless you stay in a marriott. how icky/grody!). americans get whiney when there are no french fries and humongous steaks at dinner (expect a lot of veal, soups, and fresh pasta), no bacon and home fries at breakfast (instead you will find fresh crusty breads, cheeses and fruit), and no elevators or air conditioning in hotels (too bad you'll just have to climb the stairs and throw open the shutters in the evening).

holy moly, grow up people! don't you travel to experience something new and different?

i want to say ye gods, just chill, slow down, enjoy a different lifestyle, absorb the culture you're in, why don't ya?

if you're not willing to behave yourselves, please don't let me see or hear any of you americans while i'm traveling in a foreign land—keep yourselves well hidden and out of my sight.

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