There are times when I can’t hold my tongue. When I was younger, there were many more times I just couldn’t do it, but away from home, I have learned to just observe and keep my thoughts to myself. In Cartagena, I witness many things that bother me: garbage on a beautiful beach, school cancelled for no good reason, loud music outside my window, constant beeping of car horns, flooding in poor neighborhoods, politicians using misery and poverty to their advantage, etc. As a foreigner, I play the role of a therapist as Colombians release their frustrations about their country and how it should be more developed by now. I listen, but I don’t judge, openly.
My silence abroad can only be broken by only one thing: stupid Americans. Last Thursday afternoon, I was eating pizza in a cute little place near my house and in walked in five big, white, sunburned, and very drunk Americans. They all wore Panama Jack hats, black concert t-shirts, long cargo shorts, and white sneakers. They were loud and speaking as if they were joking around in high school Spanish class. They immediately got on my nerves since, I have spent my career in Latin America trying to erase these exact stereotypes. Then the only short and fat guy complained loudly that his whore was too expensive and he can’t believe he paid 150 bucks! He went on into detail about his little encounter. The biggest and loudest one of the group started intimidating their Colombian sex tour guide by looking down at him and pushing his finger in his chest saying, “Next time, cheaper putas or else!” I could see how nervous the guide was getting. He also regretted bringing the gringos into a family pizzeria especially, after they started harassing the pretty waitress with her mom right behind the counter.
As I got up to pay, I could feel myself seething and some kind of death wish came over me. I turned around, walked up to the ugly Americans’ table, and began shouting with my finger in the air. I said they were an embarrassment to the United States of America! How in the hell could they talk about being with prostitutes in a family place? I said they disgusted me and they were the reason why so many people don’t like Americans. I wanted to say “white trash, rednecks, meatheads, scumbags” but, fortunately I came to my self-preservation senses and got out of there as quick as I could. They didn’t follow me, thank goodness. I think they were too drunk and tired from the day’s activities to react to my harsh words.
I would never recommend to any woman to do what I did. It was foolish and hot headed and my words fell on deaf ears, I’m sure. However, there comes a time when we all crack, when silence ends and feelings emerge. I listen to Colombians tell me their frustrations about their country’s current state and future. I guess I just needed to tell my fellow countrymen mine: stop being an embarrassment and start making our country great again.