Saturday, September 25, 2010

Shhh . . . You’ll Give Us Away

For the first time in years, I find myself in a country where I am not obviously a foreigner. Until I open my mouth that is! There’s a whole mix of ethnic looks in Medellin with people who look anywhere between black, Hispanic, and white. Even with my blue eyes I don’t stand out very much. Coming from China, Thailand, and India all of which are much more mono-tone this is quite a change. Not to say that everyone in Asian countries looks the same, not by a long shot, but I don’t even fit into any of the variances.

So, my second day here, Miles and I get onto the metro and ride for maybe about ten minutes before one of us starts a conversation. As soon as the English words were out of our mouths, you could feel a shift in the train car and suddenly, we were the objects of attention/curiosity/speculation. However you define it, there was a marked change, though not negative, as we became “the foreigners.” What was most distinctive about this sensation to me, was recognizing that the atmosphere after we spoke English is what has become the norm for me over past years. It’s mildly uncomfortable, even when the vibe is not negative, to be so aware of yourself solely because of the fact that everyone else is aware of you. I think I’m going to enjoy blending in a bit more, now I just need to work on my Spanish!

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