South America Conversations

Walking across a plaza, wobbly. Five or six young people in a circle dressed full on 60’s hippies and with guitars call me over. “Drink with us. We will play music for you.” They finish the standard blues number they were in the middle of. We chat for a bit. “What is your country?”
“USA.”
“USA!” They have a conference and play a passable rendition of Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy.”
“Nice. But the blues you were playing is from the USA, too.”
“Really?”
“Where did you think blues came from?”
Blank looks all around.

* * *

After chatting for a bit: “Are you from Argentina?” “No, no. The United States.” I’m bemused since no matter how much my Spanish has improved, I can’t be confused for a native speaker, and certainly not an Argentinian one. “But you are wearing an Argentina shirt.” My futbol jersey, comfortable in the heat, seems to me to be an Adidas one. I suppose it does have some seals and symbols I don’t recognize and, oh right, it says “Argentina” very faintly on one sleeve. Still bemused: “But I have a USA Yankee hat!”
“Oh, is it? Everyone wears those.”

* * *

Old man: “What is your country?”
“USA”
“Oh, USA! When you go back tell your skinny President that I said ‘hello’.”

* * *

Needing a snack, take out the precious peanut butter and tortillas. Francis catches up and I hand him the jar, quietly excited for the experiment of how he reacts. He looks at it.
“Ziss I have neveur had! But I zee Americains with ziss, all like eet, no?” I nod. Francis is 45 years old. He samples some with his finger, considers it for awhile. “Not bad. Not magnifique but not bad. Maybe when you have eet mour, zen you love eet.” I’m smiling, thinking that that’s how I feel about Nutella, not magnificent but not bad, I don’t say anything, though, and Francis continues, “Now, Nutella, for me, it is zee tup!” I laugh. I put some on a piece of chocolate as Baptiste is rolling up. In his impeccable English, “Peanut butter on chocolate! I have never heard of such a thing!”
I shake my head.

* * *

I coast up to a couple sitting next to their bikes having a snack in the shade by a stream to say hello. His greeting, not looking at me, not smiling: “You’re riding the heavy equipment, it must be slow and very inefficient!”
I reply, “Well, let’s see, I heard about you dipshits as two days ahead of me yesterday and I’ve caught your sorry asses on your Eurotard fahrrad whatever trekking bikes like you’ve been asleep in the middle of the motherfucking ripio, so why don’t you shut the fuck up and consider some ordinary civility and a reality check?” But not aloud.