Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Learning from (and criticizing) other people and SpongeBob

A few cultural observations: (not judgments - other countries are not
necessarily evil, just severely misguided and ignorant like a 16th
century man trying to ride a bicycle whilst smoking a pipe with
substandard tobacco+ . And don't even try to think they don't have the
same view of us, but even more so because they smoke a lot of leaf
over here, with vending machines so the kids with spare change don't
miss out).

In Cartaya, the people like to stay up late.
Saturday night, we saw hordes of people walking up and down the main
street, including many families with young children. Now this happens
on Atlantic Avenue in Va. Beach and A1A* in Miami. But this was near
midnight. Kids' internal clocks must run very differently here because
an American child up late is a tantrum waiting to burst like a
Mentos/Diet Coke experiment% turned up to 11.

Store hours here confuse us. Some are rarely opened and even then are
interrupted by siesta. We tried two supermarkets Sunday evening, and
they were both closed. Mornings are no better.The coffee house does
not open until 4 pm, well after it is needed. The New Irish Coffee Pub
turns out to not be Irish (just a smidgeon of English and no Gaelic),
not to be much of a pub (no Fish and/or Chips-really?{}), not to be
much of a coffee house (a coffee place not even open before noon? It's
like a vegan restaurant that serves rare steaks),
and it often has loud dance music with no one dancing. But it's got
Internet. Yeah! We love you.

Very few people use sunglasses despite the constant sun. It's another
that makes stand out as foreigners. Strong sun screen is also harder
to fino and more expensive to get, with the preference being 2 and 8
SPF, maybe with cocoa butter.

American music and culture is everywhere, luring you into you thinking
you are home until you realize no one can understand you. I made my
first all-Spanish order at the McAuto (McDonalds drive through): dos
hamburgeresa con queso e uno patitos pequina, which I think is 2
cheeseburgers and 1 value fry. The drive through lady had to come out
to my car to understand me (very nice of her I didn't know they could
leave the safe room). Obviously it would be easier to order the dos
combo meal, but spending $8-9 at McD seems wrong. L successfully
ordered cucumbers and lettuce in Spanish at the tienda. There are a
lot of tourists here, but not many English speaking tourists or
locals. Jenny says this is good sometimes because you don't want to be
in on every stranger's
intimate conversations while on the beach. People are generally
friendly and willing to play the communication art of intercultural

I mentioned before my discomfort at both removing my shirt at the
beach and also at being the only shirted one at the beach. A conundrum
the guidebooks didn't cover. I forgot to mention Jenny's reaction to a
guy across the pool. "Wow, he's hairy." Then she looked at me,
remembered my appearance, and giggled.

High School musical 3 may be everywhere in Europe, but American
culture's prevalence does not include Spongebob Squarepants. This is a
shameful cultural deficiency. L's kindergarten class choose to name
one of the class fish Spongebob (the more squarish one). Good behavior
parties came with Spongebob viewing time. But here, there is no
pineapple under the sea.^^

The understanding of American Indians in Europe seems to be a little
off. For example, sitting in a church plaza in a coastal town playing
Celine Dion music on a wooden flute for tourists while wearing a head
dress is not anthropologically correct. These guys may have been
Samoan, but they didn't look like anyone I had seen in Oklahoma. Then
they played "Unchained Melody" from the movie Ghost. I was close to
asking them to play "(I've had) the Time of My Life, " but I got shy.
Hundreds of years of suffering and exploitation, and a flute with
headdress with overvwrought music disturbs me? I don't know. In
Prague, the Czechs went camping in teepees. What now? What movies are
you watching?

Keep it classy, EEUU, what they call USA over here, I think. No
rallies chanting
EEUU!, EEUU!, but not death to America! either.
*Beachfron Ave - Another Vanilla Ice reference
{}Trigger reference
%Search for it on youtube. It's pretty spectacular.
+Substandard tobacco may be better than good leaf because you'll smoke
less of it. This statement has not been evaluated by the Federal Drug
Administration. The feds don't read this blog yet they are trying to
destroy it because I push McDonalds too much.
^^Full Disclosure: I own a substantial amount of stock in
SpongeAmerica LLC's parent company through my Liberian subsidiary,
Global Danpark Ventures West-Far East. I have executive produced three
SpongeBob on Roller Blade tours (for smaller warmer markets where the
" SpongeBob On Ice" concept doesn't work. It is much classier than it
sounds. Of course, kids love it, but we also get busloads of senior
citizens and a substantial number of low to medium security convicts,
for the redeeming social message. It's really heart-warming how the
different types of crowds mix and learn from each other. "I can see
SpongeBob live even if I go to prison. Cool!" said one adorable eight
year old).

1 comment:

  1. I commend you on your analogy of a small child up late at night and the mentos/Coke combo that cranks up to ELEVEN. Well done.