There are 2 types of tourists: those who hate being identified as such and those who embrace every cheesy stereotype that comes with the stigma- lanyard included. I tend to lean toward the camp of the former. It's not that I don't like to be noticed as a foreigner, but I prefer not to broadcast it from the rooftops. When I am abroad, I find myself to be quieter than usual with my very American accent.
Currently, I am traveling in Spain with my sister, Kat. So far, it has proved to quite adventurous. And here is why...
I have a very particular talent that I have refined over the years: I can fake my way to making people believe that I have some considerable knowledge of the Spanish language. To non-Spanish speaking people I feel like I am rather successful. The only fault in this practice is that once a fluent Spanish response is required, I turn into a complete moron and the façade dissipates. Hardly any semblance of intellect manages to escape my lips; just the sad mummers of a blubbering whale.
To prove my point, I am fairly certain that at least 10 locals in Sevilla have come up to me speaking their beautiful Spanish only to find that I am as useful to them as an empty paint can. Not only am I unable to respond, but I have a permanent look of befuddlement etched across my face. The locals, however, are very kind and understanding. Once they barge through my ruse, they give me a look of, "Welcome to Spain. Good luck, you seem like you will need it."
My sister and I are staying with a magnificent couple, David and Carmen. They have become our Spanish Papá y Mamá. By the end of our stay they will be eligible for sainthood.
For 3 days they have been talking to me with absolute certainty that I only understand 30% of what they are saying. This is generous for I'm pretty sure I'm only retaining about 5%. But these lovely people are so patient with me. They keep talking to me and include me in their conversations. They don't mind waiting for my translator (Kat) to bring me in the loop. They are patient for me to learn. On the off chance that a miracle has occurred and I am actually able to speak, they listen and hang on to every word of my broken Spanish, eager to respond.
It is amazing, the wonder of patience. It edifies and builds up. I ave been so encouraged just by one couple's willingness to listen and not rush me. I have learned from their kindness how to be confident even in my weakness.
Encourage someone through patience. Draw out boldness. Their weakness will shift into strength.