Locals are shaking my hand and saying “Feliz cumpleaños.” I’m not quite sure what that means but given their smiles I think I might have done something right for a change.
This is a lie. I know what it means. It’s my birthday and I’m 28-years-old now. I used to dream of making it into the 27 club but I like living and I’m not famous. Still, I can cross one more thing off my bucket list. I managed to use the combination of ‘Lo Siento, Gringo idiota.’
I’m sorry, this Gringo is an idiot.
I ran out of money on my birthday so a South African by the name of Adriaan and I hired a taxi to a hotel to take out some cash at the ATM. Our driver didn’t know any English but on the return trip back to mine I tried to make conversation. We sat in the front, silent, and it was awkward. I didn’t know what I could say.
Then I thought, ‘yes I could’. Como Estas (how are you?).
Saying this did a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing was the taxi driver started talking a lot. The bad thing was the taxi driver started talking a lot. Who would have thought people would talk when you asked them how they were? (come to think of it, when is the last time I’ve asked someone that in English?)
I couldn’t understand him. No Comprende, I said. Lo Siento, I said. I don’t understand. I’m sorry. (That’s all I seem to say these days in Peru. Much like it was the time I was in my last relationship. But shhh).
He pointed at himself. “Peru!” he said.
It clicked. “I am Christopher from Australia!” I said.
“South Africa!” Adriaan said from the back.
“Ah! Australiano. South Africano.” Then the driver said a bunch of other stuff which didn’t help much. The South African at the back gave me his phone app translator but somehow I couldn’t get it to work and I kept holding it to the driver’s face. He kept nervously staring at the narrow road and the motocabs on it while at the same time checking the phone quickly.
I gave up. And then I said it.
“Lo Siento. Gringo idiota!”
There was silence. Then the taxi driver laughed loud. There was a sparkle in his eyes and when we arrived at the hotel, and paid the man, the driver shook my hand and said, Buenas Tardes, Christopher.” And even though I had paid him a lot more than we probably should have, there was a glow in my heart. The sort of glow that comes from teasing yourself to make the world a better place, probably.
Another point I wish to make is that I’m starting to wonder if this blog should be called ‘awkward conversations with Burnzy (and some of them in Spanish!).
Nah, but seriously. If it was a cooking blog, I’d call it ‘Cooking with Burns’. (Get it? Because my last name is Burns and I suck at cooking). And if it was a dating/sex advice blog, it would be ‘a night in Burns.’ So, we’ll try out ‘awkward conversations with Burnzy (and a little more action please).