“I know the Irish toss rocks, right?”
Cesar put this question to me yesterday when I mentioned I lived in Ireland. “That’s like one of their big sports.”
“What?!” I replied, shaking my head and laughing.
“I saw it on TV. A bunch of guys with red beards so I figured they must have been Irish,” the 27-year-old explained. “And cheese rolling too. Great big flat wheels of cheese. But then again, maybe they were Swiss. The cheese and the people. I don’t know. I saw it on ESPN. So it has to be something.”
“Listen,” I was practically rolling and gasping at this point, “I don’t know where to begin. I know a bit about the GAA (Ireland’s sports league, the Gaelic Athletic Association) but outside of hurling I haven’t heard of rock tossing as an Irish national sport. And you’re on your own on the cheese bit.”
For me, the best part of traveling is not the new architecture, foods or landscapes, but meeting new people.
Anyone. My Haitian-born taxi driver, Louis, who is now an American citizen but reached Miami on a boat in 1997 with 146 other people fleeing the chaos of their country.
Luciana, my Diplomat Resort Hotel concierge who upgraded me to a suite and whose father was an Argentine diamond miner. Before he died, he made an exquisite ring embedded with six pea-sized diamonds that she proudly wore and that I admired. I also commented on her name and she shared that her mother was from Italy. Since I lived in Tuscany for three years, we enjoyed a quick chat in Italiano.
Luciana’s incredible kindness radiated in such a way you hardly noticed the six-inch scar winding along the left side of her neck from the cancer surgery she endured last year. She teaches grade school children how to recycle and take better care of the environment in her spare time and was recently named one of her county’s 100 “Outstanding Women” for her work with the schools and with the Boys and Girls Club.
When you ask new people about themselves, you get a chance to be informed andinspired.
And, in the case of Cesar, you sometimes get a chance to have a cultural exchange.
As my audio technician, this guy was already more familiar with me than many people – since the lavaliere microphone I wore for the global tech conference I was hosting – had its cord connected to a receiver attached to a black Velcro garter that Cesar fastened high around my right thigh.
I thought it only fair that I get to know him a bit better too.
First off, when I asked how he preferred to have his name pronounced, he said he didn’t mind. He gets it both ways. His mother, who is from the Dominican Republic, calls him “Say-zar” while his American father calls him “See-zir.”
He spent the first 17 years of his life in the D.R., and moved over to South Florida to go to college and to live near his dad who came back to the US after he split with Cesar’s mom.
With three brothers and a sister, Cesar is the baby. Teasing, I asked him which sibling is his least favourite. At first he smiled as if he might divulge a story, but after the momentary hesitation he diplomatically declared he liked them all equally.
Who will he vote for?
He also declared he had a great interest in the upcoming presidential election. Yes, he’s registered. He is planning to vote.
He and a lot of his young male friends were Bernie Sanders supporters during the primaries. They especially liked Sanders’ pledge to tackle college debt.
Now he’s not sure what he’ll do. He said he can’t believe the things that keep coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth. But he doesn’t trust Hillary Clinton.
I asked him to tell me one thing he really liked to do – besides watching rock tossing on ESPN – and he revealed he shared my passion for travel.
Cesar was curious to learn more about Ireland.
“The Irish drink a lot, don’t they?” he fired off.
“Many enjoy the odd pint,” I demurred.
“Can you do an Irish accent?!”
He really pressured me on this one, cajoling me with a string of “C’mon’s!” and “Just try’s”. But even after living for nearly two years in my adopted country, the fact that there are so many variations of dialects combined with the other fact that I’m just no good at imitations helped me manage to duck his repeated request.
He also asked me about the weather in Ireland. In South Florida, we were coming off of a couple of pounding thunderstorms. I told him it rains like that a lot in Ireland.
“That’s okay,” he brightly replied. “I like the rain.”
“It also averages about 15-17 degrees Celsius which is about 60 Fahrenheit.”
“Oh,” said my new Dominican Republic-American friend,” That’s too cold.”
So for now, anyway, Cesar may continue to learn about Ireland through TV. But perhaps I can recommend the National Geographic Channel in place of ESPN.
P.S. Should I tell him about Irish road bowling??
Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.
I’m so grateful you are reading my essays. I train, consult and speak about leadership, better communications, business and life empowerment. Throughout August while I’m back in the USA, I’ll be writing postcard portraits of people I meet. Their perspectives on life, Ireland and the US Presidential election.