Love Paris, love the French, love the French ways. Paris? Everyone speaks English. It’s a second, universal language. Mostly.
By the Tour-Eiffel, though, I ran into my first Gypsy scam. A woman, could be anywhere from late teens to early fifties, but I’d guess in her twenties, runs up to us, holding a gold ring, a heavy, wide gold ring. She’s jabbering in Italian or Romanian, or very broken English, “Here, I am your Joan of Arc, I give you the ring, give me Euro (dollar) for food. Pepsi, Pizza, two Euro.”
I declined. She rattled off languages, I finally said “See” (yes, si) to Spanish, and she rapid-fire explained she found the ring, and would give it to me for a dollar. Or two. I kept smiling, declining, and I kept handing the ring back to her.
A day or two later, I watched as a middle-aged woman ran up to a tourist, and that woman was grasping a similar gold ring, saying she’d just found it, and would be their Joan of Arc. For a dollar or two.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t always a few turnip truck stories.
In line, at the local Metro station, folks ahead of us? Spoke only English.
You know, try yelling in English, that usually makes it easier to understand.
The two girls behind me, also native English speakers, but I didn’t catch enough of the accent to tell from whence. Got tickets to ride to the Notre Dame station. So did they.
“We’re lost, you seem to know your way around, can we just follow you?”
Might be a bad idea following a directionally-challenged individual from Texas. In France. However, I did rescue them from a near fatal mistake of heading off in the wrong direction, Notre Dame is the chapel on the island.
“Take me to the river.”
But I’m not sure I want to be washed in that water. We parted ways at the exit to the station and they headed due north, even more directional challenged than me. Aries, Cancer, from Australia and New Zealand. Whatever.
I did get lost on the subway, but I made it, eventually.
I was trying to explain a certain term, common in my part of the country, “Mannana.” Mexican slang for tomorrow. Or the day after that. Sometime, probably in the near future. But in France? The term “mannana” it, to them, “It seems a little hasty, too hurried.”
I fell for that scam, just once. It’s advertised as “Ice Tea.” Both Paris and London. Brand we all know, Lipton. Looks like a 500 ml bottle of ice tea. Don’t be fooled. I was, just once, It’s not like, real, ice tea. It’s not even a poor imitation thereof. It’s some kind of brownish fluid – and as much the English know about tea? Don’t be fooled, not anything like our cool refreshing beverage. Stick to what they do well, high tea, espresso, French Roast coffee. Don’t expect miracles.
In the Paris Souvenir shop:
Shopkeeper looks at me, in French, he asks, “Alamande?” (German)
I looked at him, kind of a funny, I’d guess. He asked again, “Deutch?” (German)
I nodded no, “Texas.”
“Oh, American…” he nodded.
I nodded “No,” again, “Du Texas.” (from Texas).
I brought two cameras plus a phone camera. Both the regular digital cameras have crapped out. Not completely, but the images have to wait a few days before I can get to them. Think about it like developing film. Quaint notion, that.
There will be more, much much more. Film at 11.