The Tour in
by Betty Mermelstein
We waited in
the Tour in English line, wavering between
feeling comfortably smug that we were important
enough to be given this special attention and
feeling obviously incompetent in our skills to
communicate in Italian. Making new best friends
quickly gave us newfound confidence.
just kitty corner to us in Arizona! "You
been to the Four Corners?"
We've got relatives in Flagstaff."
our bestie dialog, as I wondered if I would even
have smiled at this guy in my local grocery store.
was time to begin our descent into the famous
grotto. Our guide reminded us in his heavy
Italian accent to stay on the path and not to
touch the rock formations.
stalactites grow at a rate of 0.0051 inches a
year." Fixing his eyes on my face, he smiled
inquisitively, "Is that good for you?"
was the only thing emanating from my mouth. Not
exactly the right time to ask that question. I
tried to picture the training session this guide
went through. At the head of the class stood
either someone taking his or her English cues
from Facebook or a sadistic American.
mount the boat," our guide announced,
motioning to the wobbly rowboat waiting for us on
the underground river. I raised my eyebrows to my
bestie, who snickered into his jacket.
step under the behind," we were newly
Though we all
should have known what he meant, a woman
distracted by her children took him at his word
and put her foot out under the stern of the boat.
She hit the water like a flipped pancake slapping
I can only
assume the tirade of Italian we heard next was
either a profuse apology or our guide questioning
his decision to lead the masses.
lost about ten minutes while an escort was called
for the sopping, sobbing woman and her kids, we
embarked on the river tour.
branches inside the boat," we were warned.
through the grotto, we came upon a cavernous room
whose ceiling was nearly indiscernible.
became very proud as he stated, "This is the
best part of the tour. We call it the Cathedral.
You can hear your organ in it."
eyebrows raised, he pushed a button on his phone,
so we could indeed hear the echo of his, uh, an
I gained a new
appreciation of communicating in a different
language, especially when someone is not fluent
in it. I can only imagine what I would have
sounded like if the situation were reversed. In
my hope to wish that my clients would have a good
time, I probably would have shouted, "Voglio
goderti!": "I want to enjoy you!".