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4/16/10 Travel Conversations

Whenever I travel, I strike up the most interesting conversations. We might talk about dance, books, my marital status... Here are a few snippets from conversations I haven't recorded before:

"So why are you here in Morocco?"
"I'm a Volunteer with the Peace Corps."
"So what do you do?"
"I'm an environmental educator. I talk to children and adults about the environment."
"Oh, teaching is good. You should be a full-time teacher. You could teach everything!"
"Yes, I could, but for now I'm working for the Peace Corps."
"But you could teach Hsb, arabiya, aud lbiya..."
"Yes, but I'm not a math teacher or Arabic teacher."
"But you could be!"

Another time, the jumper made me grin with a linguistic juxtaposition:
"Montez-vous parlez francais?"
At first I was saying "Montez-vous. Parlez francais.", which is French for Get into the transit already. Speak French. And that didn't make huge amounts of sense.
But then I realized that he'd said, "Montez!", ie Get in, followed by "Vous parlez francais?" Do you speak French?
'Cause if, unlike 90% of the foreigners he's ever seen, I don't speak French, I clearly won't have understood the first thing he said. Which makes it a better question to ask before, rather than after, he's ordering me around in that language...but better late than never, I guess.
Of course, I denied all knowledge of the language, as I do most of the time, so he repeated the instruction in Tam - "Alli!" - and I promptly climbed aboard.

Another time, when in a bigger city, a taxi driver began speaking to me in Arabic. I'd greeted him in Arabic - the greetings are the same as in Tam - so when I protested that I don't speak the language, he gave me a funny look. In my survival Darija, I said, "I only speak Tamazight. Do you know Tamazight?" He laughed and said no, then gave me a look and said, "Voluntaire de la paix?" I laughed, too, and nodded. Volunteer of Peace? Not my official title, but I like it. Clearly, he's driven around PCVs before, and remembered that the only foreigners who speak the language so little-known that even he and most of his fellow countrymen don't speak it...are us. Les Volontaires de la Corps de la Paix. Aka Peace Volunteers. :)

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