Two weekends ago, I was gallivanting with an international group in magnificent Andalusia. I had just had an awe-inspiring moment in Granada and on day 2, the group and I were in Malaga. One thing I noticed while I was in Andalusia was that I was getting a bit more stares than in Madrid especially from the older people. I don’t know if it was out of novelty, admiration, curiosity or pity. Although it felt a bit awkward, I just ignored the stares and continued enjoying mi vida.
Of course the story didn’t just end there. In Malaga we had a hotel by the beach, naturally we went to the beach and had a great time. The next activity on our itinerary was free dinner! I was most excited for this part, I mean who in their right mind could pass free food?!
Dinner looked great. It was a buffet style. I felt like a kid in the candy store, as there were so many options. Different types of sweets for desert, a variety of dishes to mention a few.
But like any Buffet ever, there was a long line of people waiting to serve themselves. I was also waiting in line and to my right was an older Spanish lady. Suddenly she broke the ice and our conversation went as follows: (The original conversation was entirely in Spanish)
Lady: Salami alaykam. She was attempting to greet me the Islamic way
Me: Surprised by her effort albeit wondering where this conversation was heading to. I just looked at her. I think Cat got my tongue.
Lady: Isn’t that how your people say Hello?
Me: My people?, what do you mean?
Lady: Your people!, You know from Pakistan?
Me: This is was a new identification placed on me. It is usually “You must be from Morocco!” Chuckling: I am not from Pakistan
Lady: OK, Morocco!
Me : Head shaking
Lady: Saudi Arabia
Me: Still shaking my head. I am from the U.S.
Lady: Entirely and Genuinely shocked. It can’t be! PERO ERES MORENA!
At this moment, I had to give this lady a quick lecture of how diverse the U.S. is and just because I had a gorgeous honey glazed skin, I was very much American. I also explained to her that how she greeted me was Islamic not cultural. I am Muslim and yes it is possible to be Muslim and American too. I think the Spanish lady truly didn’t know. It was like I shattered her entire belief about Americans. This new information was just too much for her that she quickly changed the topic to how good fruits were for your body. I guess that was something we could both agree on.
When I think of this encounter, I laugh but I am glad that through me she learnt the diversity of Americans.