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You're Not From Around Here


Writing in the local paperLocal issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs. (This time, markedly different endings.)

“Usted obviamente no eres de aquí,” (You're obviously not from around here) and while my linguistic pride may have been mortally injured, the policeman on the telephone was right, I’m not. He was right in noticing that my Spanish has inexplicably worsened this year. He went on, “Como todo los años, hay aglomeraciones en Santa Maria y es normal que no se puede pasar con su coche porque todo el mundo quiere ir al besamano.” (Like every year, there are large crowds of people in Santa Maria square and it's normal that you can't drive your car through there because everyone wants to go and kiss a virgen) But that wasn’t my question. What I was asking the policeman on the phone was why had there not been any notice posted about the road being cut in Santa Clara, the entrance to the Old Town? Why were two harassed local police officers suddenly directing all traffic into the tiny, yet full, plaza de los Caldereros and then asking them to drive against traffic back where they came from? I may be from a country far across the water but my question was why there hadn’t been any notice posted like they do in WOMAD or Semana Santa. I was calling the local police to see if for some reason I had missed the information that the road was going to be cut and what the alternative plan was. My accent aside, the policeman on the phone repeatedly told me that there was no such plan in place, that there had been no special preparations made for the event and that the poor policemen that I had questioned on the way home were only trying to mitigate a potentially dangerous situation. I felt terrible and immediately set out to apologize to the policemen but when I got the the plaza de los Caldereros, they had disappeared and in their place was a plastic barrier blocking traffic. I ran up to Santa Clara to see if they were directing traffic there, but found nothing, no police, no barrier, still no information. Back down to an overflowing Santa Maria and other than some national police guarding against what I suppose might be terrorist attacks, no local police to be found and surprisingly no emergency crews either. That policeman was right, I’m not from around here but if indeed this mass of people happens every year, I’m not sure I would only count on the virgin’s benevolence in case of an emergency. 

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