Passing in Spain

My sister, who is a fluent Spanish speaker and who speaks Spanish at home to her Peruvian husband, is waiting for me in Valencia and writing scandalized text messages about how everybody she meets ignores her attempts to speak Spanish and switches to a very mediocre English.

“Stop smiling and saying gracias all the time,” I direct her. “Put on a haughty, hassled look, speak loudly, and don’t be too polite.”

The moment you begin smiling all over the place and thanking everybody in sight, people peg you as a North American anywhere in the world.

3 thoughts on “Passing in Spain

  1. “people peg you as a North American”

    In Europe they’re more likely to peg you as British…. which is kind of worse (Brits abroad mostly do not do their country’s image any favors… I’m going to leave. it. at….. that).


  2. Their English might be better than their Spanish. A couple of years ago I had this experience and it was because people in stores and things on certain streets were from other parts of EU, did not speak Spanish, planned on just speaking English to everyone. You had to get away from them to speak Spanish. They knew a few rote things to say in English and otherwise you were out of luck unless you knew their actual language.


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