These people treated me like a dog
- a cute, little dog.

I didn't understand them.
I didn't know what went on
under their constant courteous,
smiles. I didn't know why they were laughing, or if I was the butt of the jokes and comments that flew around.

There are 17 of us here, 8 men and 9 women in their early 20s - a group of friends. We all went out for the day to the country. We walked together in the autumnal hills. We had lunch together at a long table inside this little roadside restaurant.

How is it possible? In England tempers would have started to fray when it took at least two hours to roust and round up the group this morning and organize them into cars. They would have flared when the first raindrops fell. In-fighting between couples, renewed emnities between schoolfriends that had not been diluted by adulthood. Humorous, wry comments would have progressed from snide to bitchy to mortal. There would have been too much drinking, tears and bloodshed and vomiting.

These people and their gracious, grouply interactions are foreign to me. They are Spanish. I have only been here in Spain a few weeks. I don't understand the language. And I don't understand the rhythm of this day. The only thing that comes out of the haze at me is; "Vamos." "Vamanos." From the context I know it means "Let's go," but why are there two words for the same thing? How is that possible? Are they trying to trick me? Are they all lying?

They're laughing again and calling, "Vamos, vamanos." I stumble after trying to know what's next. I hate being treated like a dog - because however much we love dogs we think they're stupid. And I'm not stupid. I'm smart, smart, smart - I get very drunk and I get very angry - I am falling around in the dark and everyone is laughing at me.

When I go home and try to sleep, through the boozy swoon I have induced, Spanish words as sharp and jagged as saws rip through my brain. So big are they, that only two fit in my head at once, and even then the ends stick out.

Other memories jogged by this photo. Further memories. Even more memories. This Photo. All the Photos

On Being a Foreigner

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Map/Diagram of Story Elements