“SHE IS A LARGE DOG.” Her sunburned arm stretched in the direction of Nikka, sitting patiently by my side. I studied the woman quizzically, not understanding how this was a revelation or something that needed to be pointed out to the person who was holding the large dog’s leash. She glanced over at her friend who gave a shrug, and started again. Louder this time.
“SHE IS A L-AAAAA-RRRRR-GE DOG. L-AAAAA-RRRRR-GE.”
As she uttered the second l-aaaaa-rrrrr-ge, her friend thrust her arms wide, before jabbing her finger in Nikka’s direction. At this strange display of behavior, I nodded my head and began to slowly shuffle backwards, securing Nikka safely behind me as I went. Still exhausted from our arrival in Cabo San Lucas less than 20 hours earlier, I had little patience for crazy, and even less patience for tourists fully embracing their inner Cabo Wabo. As I turned to go, the women waved me back asking in their booming, excruciatingly slow diction,
“ARRRE YOOOU FROOOM HEEERRRE?”
And it finally hit me. These nutty women thought I was a local (apparently one of the few who did not speak passable English), and had subscribed to the same seemingly ingrained theory that too many Americans resort to time and again:
Draw them out long enough, raise the volume high enough, and anyone will understand the words coming out of your mouth.
Meanwhile to the rest of the world, we (Americans) come across as crazy… and perhaps slightly intoxicated!
An hour before my encounter with the Large Dog tourists, Erik and I sat down to enjoy an ice cold beer at one of Cabo’s many waterfront restaurants. We were starving, but the menu’s exorbitant prices, presented in both US dollars and Mexican pesos (a sure sign you are getting ripped off) persuaded us to settle for a liquid lunch. We were waiting for our friends Karina and James to arrive from the San Francisco Bay Area.
A journey which for us had consumed over three months by boat, they squandered less than a day by plane, arriving in Cabo a mere 5.5 hours after lifting off from SFO!
Assuming the average mid-sized commercial jet uses approximately 7,000 pounds of jet fuel per hour, with 4 hours of actual flight time and approximately 200 passengers per plane, that very roughly equates to 20 gallons of fuel per person. In comparison, our jaunt down the coast took 400 times longer and used 15 more gallons of fuel per capita, not exactly the most efficient way to travel. Ugggh, why do we feel the need to calculate these things!
While we sat nursing our Pacificos, Jorge, a young man in his mid 20’s who was responsible for corralling tourists off of the streets and into one of the restaurant’s high backed wood chairs (not bad at his job, a testament to the fact that we were currently plopped down in two of those chairs), regaled us with his knowledge of all 50 U.S. State Capitals. After slinging through 20 of our more obscure states, it was obvious he knew his stuff. When he saw we were impressed he decided to up the ante, moving onto official state nicknames and putting us to shame. While he was flying through nicknames at a staggering 90% success rate, I was lucky to come up with 8, and over 50% of those states I have called home at one time or another.
Turns out Jorge had lived in Georgia for several years before being forced to leave the U.S. and move back to Mexico. He did not appear to let the experience sour his love for our country, however, you could hear it in his voice, in the way he described the lush Georgia countryside and his unquenchable thirst for U.S. facts and trivia. Erik and I were in awe that a man could harbor so much love for a country that had closed its doors to him. As I took my last sip of beer, I felt the hunger in my gut solidify into a tight, uncomfortable ball of guilt, realizing that what this man loved enough to learn about and memorize facts, for me had merely been a birthright.
On our dinghy ride back to Resolute with our two good friends by our side, I looked to the vast blue ocean splayed out in front of us and my lips curled into a smile as I thought, the Ocean State, hey that’s Rhode Island. Nothing like traveling 1,000’s of miles from home, to learn something new about it.