Sandals with socks, a map, and a tropical print shirt.
The stereotypical tourist. I don’t travel that often, but when I do I try my best to blend in as a local. I am sensitive to cultural or language differences. I also feel that in order to really experience a new place, it should be done as authentically as possible to get the real flavor.
I am also aware of how American tourists may be regarded in other countries and want to do my best to be a good representative of my country. Let me tell you a funny story about how I was painfully unsuccessful at this on a visit to the British Museum.
Crazy lady with a plan
In order to fully appreciate this story, you first need to know 2 things about me.
One, I like to play around with language and words, especially names of my loved ones.
I seldom call my husband or kids by their given names. I call them by terms of endearment made up spontaneously, perhaps related to our conversation or music lyrics playing at the moment. It changes from instance to instance and second to second. One moment they may be my honey and the next second they are my baby monkey. They are used to it and most of the time I am hardly even aware that I do it.
Two, I am a planner and organizer extraordinaire.
I especially love to plan our travel. Our family trip to London a few years ago was no exception. I absolutely love museums so, of course, I had planned on spending the better part of one day at the British Museum. So many things to see, such little time. As part of my planning, I identified a list of must-see items before the trip. The Rosetta Stone. The Elgin Marbles. Lindow Man. Gosh, am I efficient or what?!
The big day
The trip in London is fabulous! We are having a great time. Tons of walking as expected. Museum walking is a different stride that my husband and I refer to as the “museum shuffle”. The “museum shuffle” is characterized by a super slow pace whilst navigating masses of people over a period of hours. It is absolutely draining as I am sure you have encountered at fairs, zoos, museums, and large public events.
The day flies by as hours of the “museum shuffle” ensue. So many fantastic things to see. Overwhelmed. Exhausted. My husband is done. The kids are well-done. My feet are throbbing. Time to go.
But wait! We haven’t seen Lindow Man yet. Prior to the trip, I had told my husband about him. He is a man that was discovered in the 1980s in a bog in north west England. He supposedly lived sometime around the first century. He was super neat because he was so well preserved in the bog. I was excited to see him and came to affectionately refer to him as “Bog Boy”.
Looking at the museum map, we could not figure out where he was located. We were all running on overtime and had to see him now or never. Frustrated by not finding anything on the map, my husband went up to a museum employee to ask for directions. He came back slightly confused.
The guide had tried to help him, but was puzzled when the stupid American asked him where “Bog Boy” could be found. The guide eventually figured out that my husband was referring to Lindow Man. The guide gave my husband, the clueless tourist, directions and sent him on his way.
Returning to us, my husband had a very confused look on his face. Completely innocent in the misunderstanding, he asked me if “Bog Boy” was indeed Lindow Man. Yes, I replied as I giggled. Of all the times I had mentioned “Bog Boy” my husband wasn’t aware it was merely one of my silly monikers. I was so sure I had mentioned the real name of Lindow Man to him at least once. I guess not. I glanced over to the museum guide and my face warmed to a red glow. He must have been looking at us as this dumb tourist family. We quickly skittered away to go see “Bog Boy”.
Here I was attempting to be respectful and perhaps even improve international relations on the trip *wink wink*.
I guess that was a bust, but the museum was fantastic.
Tell me I am not alone
Have you ever had a misunderstanding that caused some embarrassment? Share your story in the comments. I am sure I am not alone. 🙂