Saturday, February 23, 2008

Accepting Friendship

I was going to title this...offering friendship...but I realized that on this occasion, I had been the one accepting, not offering, tho it usually is a total two way street.

Being the extrovert that I am, I often miss the verbal exchange that I crave when I am on vacation with ISTJ dh. He processes a lot. A lot. I can, and will, talk to most anyone anytime, but my language skills on this trip are a bit below minimal. I didn't make the effort I could have and so I was hungry for conversation...just the small talk of life. My ds has often said I'll talk to a lampost, and wonders why I approach strangers and offer directions.

We have had the experience on this trip, of people coming up to us and offering to help, usually with English that makes me wonder if we Americans will ever be a nation of linguists. My French is mostly forgotten, I haven't spoken Thai in years, and the Farsi only hangs on in some of my screen names. Spanish I keep swearing I will study, and finally have the Mac with a microphone to hear myself but I haven't started studying - yet. Portuguese? Well my only taste of Portuguese has been a few cassettes of Portuguese music and the memory of music picked up from Mozambique while in east Africa. Once I say Obrigado, I'm just about through. The shame of it all. :-P

We finally took ourself up to the Castelo Sao Jorge on this trip to Lisbon, and after seeing the views from a couple of directions, dh decided to continue around to the north side. I said I would wait and when he came back, I would get up on my feet again. But I can sit on stone for a good while, and so I waited...and waited...and waited. Where was he?? How long would I have to wait? Hmmmm....

When we entered the Castelo, we were following a large group of students...13? give or take a year or two? Many of our daily excursions coincided with school trips and it was always fun to see students being students the world over. Dh was gone, and I was waiting..waiting..amidst a group of those students. Suddenly one dashed over and said English? Yes, I said, tho then wondering if he meant language or nationality. No matter, I thought. He dashed back to his friends and they chattered and another came back with - English? no, I said American - United States. Back they huddled and then came over with the mix of shyness and exhuberance that an adolescent has. They had found an English speaker to test out their skills. I had seen the same in other countries, but this was the first time on this trip that someone other than an adult had approached us. My friends always say I have a neon light on my forehead that lights up and says TALK TO ME. I guess it went on when dh walked off. ;-)

One by one, in bits and pieces they each told me their name, I pronounced it back, was corrected if necessary, and tried my 3 or 4 words of Portuguese out. Lots of laughing and they seemed to think I did ok. I only know they are from a school north of Lisbon, and were on a school trip. I have sent Jessica an email with their photo, but should anyone who knows them see this, I would love to share it with them. They were truly one of the best gifts of this trip. I loved meeting them and talking with them, and thank them so so much for approaching me.

Your language skills are excellent, and keep being such good ambassadors for your country. I will remember you as Portugal. Espero que nos reunimos novamente.

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