Sunday, March 27, 2016

Touristitude: what kind of tourist am I?

Touristitude = TOURIST + ATTITUDE
There was precious little to appetise me here ...
So we went to a Mexican Chinese restaurant. Know what? I prefer Jamaican Chinese food by LEAPS and BOUNDS and GALAXIES and UNIVERSES. Yep. It was that bad. I didn't express the extent of my dislike while we were at the restaurant. That wouldn't have helped anything. I was polite, and explained that I like my cold food COLD and my hot food HOT - and that maybe because everything was room temperature and pretty much tepid, I wasn't feeling very 'appetised'. Plus, I added, I wasn't that hungry anyway (lies!!). I ate what I could stomach, and made polite conversation while my host had his meal. He noticed that I didn't touch half of the food on my plate, but was polite enough to 'understand'.

That's what you get for trying CHINESE food in MEXICO. (But Chinese food in Jamaica is so tasty though ... I thought it was like that everywhere.)

One plate of Chinese food that
pretty much remained untouched ...
Another time, we (not the same host, a different we) went to a restaurant where I ordered a soup called posole blanco. Truth? It tasted like chicken boiled in water with large grains of hominy corn. No seasoning. Not even salt. Now, all Jamaicans know that soup is not soup without some Maggi Soup-It-Up. Plus some thyme and scallion and all them herbs for flavour. So this new dish sans seasoning wasn't going down too well at all. Even with the addition of chopped onions and radish and a little chili pepper.

Know what I did? Same as above: I didn't express the extent of my dislike while we were at the restaurant. I was polite, and sipped my soup, ate my corn grains, truly enjoyed the chicken, and nodded vague approval, masking the sorrow my tastebuds were undergoing.

Only weeks later, after I'd tasted the red counterpart to that white wonder, called posole rojo, did I let slip how terrible I'd found that soup. We laughed about it, probably because I really LOVE posole rojo, and was chowing down with genuine gusto. It was like chalk to cheese. Posole rojo? Win. Posole blanco? Never again.

But I realised something about myself: I'm a polite tourist. You know those people who are perpetually nice and always find a way to 'make do'? I might be one of those.

It got me thinking, and I started paying closer attention to my reactions to things - as a tourist. Imagine my surprise when I realised I'm squealish. Not squeamish. Squealish. Like a person who creates a lot of excitement over every little thing. So I go somewhere, and they say, "This is Mexican dirt." My response will be (in a squeal), "Oooh. How lovely. Mexican dirt!" Only long afterward will it occur to me that it's not particularly exciting to see dirt. But such is the nature of my touristitude. I make excitement for dirt.

I'm also screamish. I scream. Loud. Lots. Especially when excited. One night, we went to a karaoke bar. One of my friends went up and sang. It was sooo good - dude can sing! So I screamed. Loudly. Alot. One of the Mexican girls came over to me and said: "I buy you beer. You scream. How you do that?"

It took me a while to understand. But she was basically offering to buy me a beer, hoping I kept up the hysterics all night, and asking me how I made that shrill sound. I declined the beer. I explained that she was welcome to hang with us (we were the loud ones that night), but she didn't need to buy me anything. It's funny when I think about it because I don't really scream on demand. It just happens if and when I get excitable.

Turns out I screamed a lot more that night. This one girl went up and put on a real Pink performance - rockerchick moves and all. I screamed for that. Another of our brave friends went up and sang Sean Kingston's 'Beautiful Girl'. It was a fun (and funny) rendition. I screamed for that. But when a Mexican mama hit the stage and said, "First I was afraid, I was petrified", I got off my stool and screamed the house down! Then we all belted out that time-honoured karaoke masterpiece and danced to high heaven. Was fun.

So, I learnt that I'm a screamish tourist. Not even just a tourist. I'm a screamish person. I make loud sounds when I'm happy - screams, peals of laughter, cackles, shouts ... you get the gist. I guess I can sum it up by saying I have a polite, make-do, screamish, squealish touristitude.

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