Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Could've, would've, should've

¡Hola Todos!
I really appreciate the feedback I received from my first post. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed creative writing :) Now, before I proceed, you might think the title of this particular post will lend itself to a story full of mistakes, self-pity, and doubt.  However, that is only partly true since I was able to grow from and find humor in all the mistakes I made today.  Here's what I wanted to accomplish:
1) Visit la Oficina de Relaciones Exteriores (check check; this one actually went pretty well considering I circled the building at least five times trying to find the entrance).
2) Explore the city a little (also somewhat successful, but more to tell on this).
3) Open a Spanish bank account.
4) Apply for a student identification card via the Spanish police station.
Here's what happened in a nutshell (it may be a large nutshell after I'm done writing, so bear with me).
After meeting with Javier at la Oficina, I walked out toward the plaza near la Catedral de Santiago de Compostela.  Before I continue, I should mention that I have been much more observant of my surroundings while abroad, constantly checking my wallet in my pocket and being ready to judo chop any sneaky arm trying to snatch my backpack.  I'm not sure if pickpockets are a huge problem in Santiago, but I didn't want to be "that foreigner." That being said, I unfortunately lost some money to someone who I'm 95% sure is a con artist.  Though it tickles me as a young person to use the word "swindle" or the phrase "I've been had!" in a sentence, it's not as cool as it sounds when it happens to you.  This young woman came up to me with a sign basically saying she was raising money for the, her words not mine, "Deaf and Dumb." In retrospect, there were two signs she wasn't legit. First, me forgetting what the sign said, tried speaking to her in Spanish, so she continued to point at the Spanish version of the sign. I suppose she could have been a virtuoso at reading lips, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.  Secondly, when I started to give her a small donation, she crossed out what I wrote, pointed to another donation on the list, and made me match it.  I assume she had seen what I had in my wallet and knew I could give more. After she left, a man observing this across the way pointed his finger to his head and looked straight at me, as if to say, "Stupid American." After speaking with a few other people around, apparently I was not the first to be swindled, which made me feel a little better.  The amount of money was somewhat significant, but not nearly enough for me to still be upset.  I guess this is what they mean when they say, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me thrice . . . invalid question because I won't even let you fool me twice." I think it goes something like that. I've heard it both ways.  All I can say is, I hope she at least puts the money to some honorable use, whatever it is.

Now a couple of tidbits from the rest of the day.
1) I noticed some little kids pointing at random people and shouting what to me sounded like "Feo," meaning ugly.  Needless to say, I hope I didn't get the point.  Also, I hope I was just hearing them wrong.
2) In one office where I was trying to open a Spanish bank account (it wasn't the right office, but the lady pointed me in the right direction), I noticed a fake newspaper clipping stating "¿Has visto el Joker?" (Have you seen the Joker?) Immediately the Dark Knight trilogy pops into my head and it takes everything I've got NOT to do my Heath Ledger impression.  Thankfully, there's still time.
3) I'm gradually becoming more comfortable with speaking in Spanish to others, but most of it has been out of necessity. I'm sure once school starts in a week, it will be much easier to talk with and get to know other students.  Though I'm aware I'll continue making mistakes with speaking and understanding, I realize studying abroad is a marathon, not a sprint.

Thanks for reading and keep coming back for a good laugh!

Vuestro amigo,



  1. That lady must have known you have a huge heart and always see the best in people = easy con artist target. Don't change though Bud! It's one of your greatest qualities. Love you and hope to chat with you soon! I need to show you my new apartment.

  2. Ethan, a quick question... was the "Deaf and Dumb" sign gramatically correct, or was she in fact raising money for herself and not for the less fortunate? Como se dice "Deaf and Dumb" en Espanol? LOL about your fun adventures in Spain :) ~Claire