March 16, 2016

Immersing ourselves in new cultures...

One of the reasons many of us have adopted this cruising lifestyle is to travel; to visit lands and cultures we either have never experienced, or wish to learn more about.

There are often some minor barriers to admission; things we don't know or are unfamiliar with, like language, dress, customs, and cultural mores...

We never want to offend anyone, nor be perceived as the 'Ugly Americans'... 

I personally enjoy asking what must be mundane questions, but one has to start somewhere... 

This is akin to our being occasionally asked if we live in an igloo, have a dog team, where to exchange currency [this from fellow citizens- and yes, I can handle that for you...] or insistence that shipping to Alaska from the lower 48 US states is international... [A testament of our public education system perhaps?]

Regardless, I always enjoy being immersed in a culture- especially on that is new to me. I have found that is the best way for me to absorb some the cultural nuances and bits of language. But it rarely sticks for long- especially if we are just passing through- but I can't stay isolated just because I am embarrassed by my own ignorance...

Another example: I have lived and boated in Mexico several times, the most recent being many years ago. I was fluent in Spanish then, but languages don't stay that way [for me...] without continued use. 

Keeping with my desire for immersion, when I have an opportunity to converse in Spanish I jump right in. I try speaking without thinking it through in English first [i.e., translating; it is said you know a language when you think in the language you are speaking- or attempting to speak in...] This can lead to some funny situations...

I remember being in Mexico joining friends for dinner in very nice restaurant- after a few years of absence from the country [and the language...] I intended to order camarones a la diabla [Shrimp of the She-Devil (chipotle sauce) which was not on the menu... To die for! (Or die of...)]

At this point my tongue was well lubricated through my reacquaintance with the local beverages, and running about half a step ahead of the brain which was driving it...

What I actually ordered was a few demonic trucks [camiones.] And I knew this as soon as it escaped my lips. Hysterical laughter ensued; mine and theirs.

My second attempt would have required a waiter [camarero...] to volunteer to be diced and sautéed in the chipotle sauce...  Now they think I'm a stand-up comedian... A round from the house!

My friends are getting pretty hungry at this point, and some food in me might help ensure we receive something familiar for desert...

Of course I hit the target on my third try [as if they didn't already know...] and we [especially the wait staff] continued to chuckle our way into dinner... 

It was great fun and a marvelous learning opportunity at the cost of some humility; a small price to pay indeed.

C'est la vie! [...or should I say Que Sera, Sera...]

And I can assure you boaters that- unlike unfamiliar cultures-  unknown waters do not compel in me that same desire for immersion...


  1. This is hysterical - demonic trucks and waiters in chipolte sauce! The only time I try to speak French is when I've had one too many and always end up saying something that makes no sense whatsoever :-)

    Glad to have found your blog - I've added you to our list of sailing blogs on our site and am looking forward to following along with your adventures.

    Cheers - Ellen

    1. Thank you, Ellen.

      Having only had time to glance at your blog at this point, this is high praise indeed!

      We revel in the companionship of other warped souls... Thank you for making us aware...

      Cheers! Bill

  2. Hi Bill,
    I keep trying to use your email and it freezes on sending, so I thought I'd mention that in the comment section, which appears to work. Enjoying your blog! Stopped by for the EPIB battery info, stayed to explore. I have to ask, have you two run into Chuck and Laura Rose, s/v Lealea?

    1. Hi Brewgyver, [Great name... reminds me of something I will experiment with on the boat once we leave the lands of micro breweries...]

      Thanks for touching base and letting us know that Google email plug-in wasn't playing nice...

      We also thank you for your kind words about our fledgling blog.

      We haven't had the pleasure of meeting the Lealea crew yet... It looks like they are moored in Petersberg per their FB page, so we will try to look them up next time we are up that way... [About 8-12 sail-boating hours north of us in Wrangell...] Thanks for pointing them out to us. They have an excellent web site and FB presence, so we will get to know them virtually for now.




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