Since I jumped ship on my last post so suddenly, I thought it only proper that I post a little something to compensate. This was in Tangier, before I crossed into Spain. The ones in Sevilla sport little hats!
Go, little man! Go Go Go!!!
I think I will also add a small note here. I came upon this realization only just recently and thought I would share it with any other developing-world afficionados out there-
When invited to have dinner with a local family that has nearly nothing, you must eat. You must eat a LOT. In fact, you should eat everything you possibly can, with gusto.
It sounds counter-intuitive, since you know that they don´t have much. It makes sense to eat little, knowing that every bite you take is a bite that one of them doesn´t.
The realization that I came to recently is this: They will never have enough. There will probably never be a day when every single member of the family will sit back, stuffed to bursting with nutritious food. Therefore, the one meal that they´ve invited you for is going to make nearly no difference to their overall health. What it does do, however, is give them a chance to show a foreigner (and therefore, in most countries, an esteemed guest) a good meal and a good time. If you don´t eat, you either make them feel as if their food isn´t any good, or worse, you call attention to the massive income gap between the two of you and make them feel awkward.
What you can do by gorging yourself is allow them the pride of knowing that a foreigner with much more access to different kinds of exotic food still deeply enjoys eating what they have to offer. They will go to bed perhaps a bit hungrier than normal, but filled with the knowledge that what they have to give is on par with the best of the United States, or France, or Australia, or whatever country you come from. You put them at ease to be themselves, and to show you all the best aspects of their culture, without any concern that they may not be able to give you enough.
It seems simple now that I´ve typed it out… but it took many years and a couple of uncomfortable meals before I realized this. I always thought that it was selfish to eat a bunch, possibly depriving everyone else at the table of what they needed to achieve satiety for the day. After a bit more experience, I realized that this isn´t the case. They will never eat more than you do. They will make sure that you get the best bits and the biggest portions. Therefore, if you eat with ardor and abandon, so will they.
Anyway, that´s all. I´m in Sevilla now, waiting to catch a night bus to Madrid airport. My couple of days here in Western Europe have been alright, but I have had a bit of a hard time fitting in with the other backpackers I´ve met. Yesterday, I asked the girls in my room if there was hot water. They all gave me a strange look before one of them took me into the bathroom to teach me how to adjust the temperature on the knob (Good Lord, I KNOW how to do that!). Then, this morning, I had a Spaniard insist that I wasn´t American because every American he´s ever seen has been dressed impeccably.
¨Americans don´t dress like THAT,¨ he insisted.
So yeah, I´m taking a night bus out of here. I´ve got 1 flight, 2 nights spent sleeping in airports, 1 bus to Bari, and 1 ferry before I can rest easy. Albania, here I come!
¨Why worry? Better to live until you die.¨ – Dan Millman