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I get that. There were times I pretended not to be American as well. In France/Italy/Spain/ I was never taken for a native, but also never as an American, always thinking I was either French or Spanish, depending on which country I was not in.

My parents visited San Miguel de Allende and loved it. It is on my list, but I wasn’t sure where you lived. Why are you moving? Leaving the area or simply going more rural?

In the 3 months my parents were in Mexico, (more language lessons for 2 professionals in foreign language education,) Mom had to have emergency gall bladder surgery. They said it was a great experience, (as far as that can be,) and never had such an easy time getting BCBS to pay that bill. Was insanely cheaper than what it would have been in the US.

who apologized more than once for her fellow countryman’s rudeness

I probably told the story before. My dad was native born USian, but his family emigrated from Quebec. He wanted to exercise his French, so, heading to Montreal for Expo 67, he drove up through Ottawa, and crossed over into Quebec, then drove a little two lane rural highway into Montreal. He stopped for gas at a little Sunoco station out in the boonies. The pump jockey circled behind the car, saw the Michigan plate, and rolled out all the English he knew “200? 210?” (Sunoco’s grading system for gas then) I imagine the guy gave a sigh of relief when dad answered in Quebec French, with a Gaspe accent.

At Expo, dad went to a French language information booth. When he returned he said “she speaks Parisian French”, as if to say “she’s not from around here”.

Steve…no French, no German, no Flemish.

Dad was born in Quebec, but an American citizen because of his dad. As highly schooled as he was in languages, when we went to visit family he would slip right into the patois, which I never was able to understand. Mom, a French teacher, had difficulties as well. He could turn it on and off at will. I suspect the woman at the Expo could too, were she a local.


When my dad was taking the grand tour of northern France, in 44, he could communicate with the locals. But, in the back of my mind is the thought that, the moment dad turned and walked away, the locals would look at each-other and say “that guy talks like a hillbilly”.

A film that I have enjoyed for several years is “Sealed Cargo”, about a fishing boat making it’s way from Gloucester to Newfoundland, during the war. The boat has a Dane in the crew. Being shorthanded, the captain picks up another hand in Glouchester, also a Dane. The captain starts to wonder about the new Dane, so has his existing crewman, and the newcomer speak to each-other, in Danish. The existing crewman says the other guy speaks “not good Danish, but OK”. The new guy says the existing crewman “speaks perfect Danish, just like they teach in school”. Sure enough, the one that spoke perfect, school, Danish, was a German spy.

Steve…doesn’t speak Danish either