Avoid the Oops — Not Trying the Language

Katerina, my new Greek friend who taught me the proper Greek alphabet
© Stephanie Glaser

During a layover from Athens to Amsterdam, I took advantage of a free minibus tour of Budapest, arranged by the airline company on which I flew. Because the tour was conducted completely in Greek, I didn’t learn much about Budapest, but I befriended the seven other travelers on the van who were all from Greece.

The only Greek word that I knew was “Efharisto,” (thank you) so whenever I could use it, I did.

Katerina, a seven-year-old girl who was part of the minivan crew, giggled and said something to Gabriella, one of the two English speakers in the group. Gabriella told me that Katerina found it funny that the only thing I could say in Greek was “thank you.”

Through Gabriella, I told Katerina I actually knew the Greek alphabet. I spared relaying the details of how I had learned her language’s alphabet, along with such skills as playing quarters and other drinking games, while in a sorority at college. Then in a moment of silliness, I sang her the version I had learned courtesy of Delta Gamma.

For a minute, as everyone sat in silence, I thought I had offended them. Then all the Greeks broke out into uproarious laughter. Clearly they got a big kick out of the Alpha Beta Gamma ditty, and they had a hard time composing themselves again.

Although slightly embarrassed, I never felt like they thought I was an idiot. Entertaining, yes, but stupid, no. In fact, Katerina and her grandfather offered to give me a proper lesson in the alphabet. They patiently waited for me to repeat each letter after them.

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The Travel Oops Interview: Laxatives + Bus + Terrorist Turf = Bad Situation

Beddingfield would eventually see Machu Picchu after her Oops.
© Sheree Beddingfield

To Sheree Beddingfield, Latin America means a few different things. It’s a place where she loves the culture and language, and it’s also a place where she has encountered full on adventures as well as episodes of GI distress. However, just because she’s had a few bouts with intestinal issues, do not think this traveler has a weak stomach or is a damsel in distress. Beddingfield is one tough traveler who has taken on Hemorrhagic E. Coli in Honduras and super potent laxatives while on a bus traveling through terrorist territory in Peru.

Beddingfield, a physician assistant originally from Texas, first traveled to Latin American at 19 when she had volunteered to help at a medical clinic in Cayos Cochinos, Honduras.

Sheree inspects a lizard on one of her South American adventures.
© Shree Beddingfield

Living solo in a small village, she befriended the children who helped her fine-tune her Spanish. Because “Sheree” was hard to pronounce, the kids called her “Shitty” (not knowing really what they were saying). The women, who hadn’t yet warmed up to her, called her “Espaguetis” (Spaghetti) because they said she’s skinny and white.

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The Travel Ahh…

© Edward Schuck

As anyone who travels knows, there are missteps, mishaps and misadventures, but then there are those perfect moments when we say: “Yeah, this is why I travel.” A Travel Ahh…

My mom has been featured in the last two posts, so here is my dad, Ed, in Peru. He is showing kids from an Amazon village their images on his video camera. Since they had not seen this technology before, they were very curious. My dad was clearly thrilled to have an audience appreciate his filming, which can be nonstop and somewhat annoying when you are traveling with him. However, ultimately, I’m glad he captures so many memories on video, and this is one of my favorite photos of my dad.