Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Commanding Presence

When we first moved here we lived with Ibis' family, which included our two-year old (now three) nephew. I re-learned my Spanish vocabulary alongside him, and also picked up quite a few commands. Eat that, don't eat that, don't hit me, leave it alone, stop shouting... the list goes on and on.

Since moving to Zihua I haven't had many opportunities to use those commands but this morning I used the following in the space of one hour:

¡Callate! - Shut up!
¡Dejame en paz, por favor! - Leave me alone, please!
¡Nunca toca mi carro!* - Never touch my car!

(* I don't think that's grammatically correct, but they understood well enough.)

The first two were directed at a man who kept calling me guera, not an offensive term but really annoying when said repeatedly. This isn't the first time I've seen him while on my morning run so I was ready to yell at him. After I told him to shut up I hurried across the canal to where there were more people. He followed. I walked quickly - I refused to give him the satisfaction of making me run - until I was near other people, but he stayed right behind me.

There are several restaurants there along the water and I always say good morning to the workers, but this morning they were all closed. I could still see him out of the corner of my eye so I headed towards the tourist police, located next to the plaza. Just as I was about to turn the corner, he ran to catch up to me and said it again, "Guera."

I told him to please leave me alone, he said something about hermosa (beautiful, whatever), and I walked straight to the police. He took off as soon as he realized where I was going so I leaned against the wall, five feet from an armed officer.

Ibis was still at the beach so I planned to wait for him there and as I rested, a Jehova's Witness approached. There are a lot of Witnesses (Testigos) here but they rarely attempt a conversation. I assume they know I live here since we see each other every morning, but I suppose they only talk to people who aren't hustling through the plaza. The woman came over and asked if I wanted to talk, I told her I'd talk to her, just not about her religion. My aunt is a Witness and so is Ibis' immediate family so this woman can't tell me anything I don't already know. We spoke for about ten minutes, me constantly looking to see if the man or Ibis appeared, then she went on her way. (Weird thing: she said I have a Brazilian accent.)

An hour later I pulled into the grocery store and before I could turn off the car, a small hand tugged on the driver side door. I slammed it shut, yelled no, and shook my finger at the little boy on the other side of the glass. He scurried away but not so far I couldn't see him. Several boys hang out near the entrance, hoping to help tourists with their bags, a cart, whatever, in return for a tip. Recently they added opening the car door to their repertoire and scared the bejeezus out of me the last time they tried to "help."

They stood huddled near the door and one approached with an empty cart. I looked at them and yelled never touch my car. They turned their heads and I went into the store. When I left twenty minutes later, one boy politely asked if I needed a cab but the others stopped their approach when they saw me. I hate being mean to children but they have no respect for personal space.

It's just noon now so I'm hoping I have no further need to yell at anyone. Ibis better watch out! ;)


Janna Qualman said...

Wow, Melanie, what a morning! And scary. I hope that man learned his lesson.

You sound mean! ;) I wish I could hear your "Brazilian" accent...

Anonymous said...

Melanie, that is a crazy story. The cultural differences are really interesting. The fact that someone would follow you is just creepy. Doesn't things like that tempt you to come back to the US?

Melanie Avila said...

Every day...

spyscribbler said...

I hope that man stays away. Man, Melanie, I can see why you write memoir. You have such an interesting life.

(By the way, I totally bookmarked the Pepper Cheese thing. Yummy!)

Turkey Lurkey said...

That was frightening about the guy. I had similar issues when I lived closer to the boarder. It does seem to be a cultural difference between the two countries. (one of many!) I hope you don't see him again! Do you carry pepper spray?

Melanie Avila said...

No, but I had my keys ready to gouge his eyes out. There were people around so I don't think he'd actually try anything but it still scared me.

Melanie Avila said...

Spy - I realized I never translated the name of the dish. Rajas means strips, so the peppers, and crema is cream, so it's peppers in cream.

colbymarshall said...

Perhaps you haven't failed as much as I thought you had when I read your quiz answer, seeing as how you're yelling at children, lol!

Melanie Avila said...


Colby you made me snort!

WendyCinNYC said...

You're a badass, Melanie!

Don't mess with her.