SPAIN: SOY AMERICANO (PART 4)

I did my best to represent the United States. With our status in the world in decline, it’s my duty as a citizen of this rich country to not let it slip even further. But I quickly learned that it doesn’t matter how awesome I may appear because for every me there are a dozen of other traveling Americans who just reinforce the stereotype: arrogant, fat, annoying, closed-minded, stupid, self-absorbed, insecure, materialistic.

First there were the three college-aged American girls visiting Barcelona. The two fat ones couldn’t stop talking about themselves, asking everyone where they could find a club that plays hip-hop because that is the only music they’re willing to dance to. They’d counter your observation about Spanish culture with nonsense: “Yeah yesterday I like went to the grocery store and the guy was so mean he didn’t have to like be that mean.” Drinking in their vicinity was even worse: “Oh my god I’m like so drunk this is my 12th shot I shouldn’t drink any more? okay one more I hope I don’t get as drunk as last night.” It was unbearable.

There were the standard-issue blondes from Chicago, also in Barcelona, who were older and less annoying but terribly uninteresting and cold.

There was the guy from Boston in Madrid. Every sentence he threw in “fucking” to appear cool and edgy. He busted his head in the shower and got blood throughout the room. “I thought hostels were supposed to be fucking crazy, where are all the bitches?!”

There was another American in Madrid who introduced himself as 25 Cent: “I’m half the color but all the attitude.” He challenged people to rap battles. And he was white (second from right). He said he was from L.A. and has done coke with Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie. I mean, who hasn’t done coke with Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie? His line, “I want to introduce you to the hostel of love,” did not get him as far as he had hoped.

How did it get like this? How come so many Americans possess the same negative traits? How did such anti-social behavior become a cultural phenomenon?

I don’t consider myself unique in wanting to meet interesting, socially-aware people who are open-minded, but the odds that an American fits this profile is low. Even the English, who share the most with us culturally, are much more tolerable than Americans. When you’re in your home country and consciously seek out international hang-outs to meet people who are not from here, you may have a problem.

The most interesting American I met in Spain was at a Monday night club party in Barcelona. He got into some trouble back home and moved to Spain about a year ago, where he currently deals drugs in various clubs. When it became obvious to him that I was not going to purchase drugs he befriended me and kept the drinks coming. He wanted to impress me and at that moment I wanted to be impressed.

He had a crew of four or five guys who acted as his entourage. As the temporary new member I had to be super cool and have a serious look on my face. He told me that drug enforcement in Spain is a joke, and the only time they make busts is more for publicity purposes than trying to reduce usage. I concluded that I do not want to be a drug dealer because of the late hours and unruly clientele.

The reason I came to Spain in late-August is not to put up with the heat and tourist swarms but to attend La Tomatina, the tomato food-fight that occurs in Bunol on the last Wednesday of every August. From Barcelona I went to Valencia, the third largest city in Spain that is about an hour train ride from Bunol. After a night out and two hours of sleep, I was ready for what would be the highlight of my trip.

Spain Table of Contents

Part 1: The Terminal
Part 2: Red Lights
Part 3: Hostel Game
Part 4: Soy Americano
Part 5: La Tomatina
Part 6: Unsustainable Tourism
Part 7: Doner Kebab
Part 8: Lessons
Part 9: The Chart
Part 10: Fin

38 thoughts on “SPAIN: SOY AMERICANO (PART 4)

  1. Joe T.

    DCB wisely wrote:

    But I quickly learned that it doesn?t matter how awesome I may appear because for every me there are a dozen of other traveling Americans who just reinforce the stereotype: arrogant, fat, annoying, closed-minded, stupid, self-absorbed, insecure, materialistic.

    —-

    We are pretty much what can be expected when untrammeled capitalism runs amok for 50 years. Americans are no longer even the lowest common denominator among the developed nations. We are now a nation of pygmies and serfs, the products of an unregulated, unmitigated free market system where everything is reduced to a commodity.

  2. Jay Gatsby

    “There was another American in Madrid who introduced himself as 25 Cent: ?I?m half the color but all the attitude.? He challenged people to rap battles. And he was white (second from right).” — DCB

    Is he the dude crouched down and peeking out between “white shirt” and “blue shirt”, or are you talking about “blue shirt” himself? Why is “white shirt” giving the bird? He looks like he’s about to pop a blood vessel.

    Also, the blonde doesn’t really look like she’s having all that good of a time. Three dudes, one girl? That’s crap for odds, unless she’s into GB’ing, but the look on her face doesn’t make me think she is.

  3. lady bizness

    Joe T. is an idiot. The use of the completely outdated and racist term of ‘pygmies’ to describe Americans is the most obvious indicator. Capitalism for sure has had an impact on American culture. But, I would say a far greater impact is the always-existing culture of freedom to be weird and obnoxious. Let’s face it, this country was built by misfits and nutjobs who were too wacky to live in the more culturally staid Europe. That why Europeans are turned off by us, we’re the unwanted castoffs that have flourished and surpassed our cousins across the pond. And we know it. And we like to rub our uncouth behavior in their faces, just to prove how crude and obnoxious we can be and get away with it.

  4. Sally

    Blech. I think one of the problems is that Americans don’t get out much or experience other cultures. On the other hand, price and time-wise, it’s out of the range of most middle-class people to jaunt to other countries for a couple of months.

    When I was in St-Trop, the loudest, most annoying people were the Brits. We thought they were American at first.

  5. Sheila Copps

    “Even the English, who share the most with us culturally, are much more tolerable than Americans.”

    Canada forgives you for not thinking of her. It’s to be expected that you’d overlook the people who share your continent, your language (excepting Quebec), 3 of your 4 major sports leagues, and most of your television stations.

    You are an American, after all. You have lots of company when it comes to forgetting that country to your North.

    Hint: we’re the people whose flag American tourists are eternally co-opting so as to camoflage the country they really come from.

  6. Taylor

    I had a great time in Madrid and Seville recently and met only one American. And he is working in Madrid on a 5-yr assignment with the Feds. I did stick out, but only b/c I’m a 6’5″ white guy without that dark Spanish complexion.

    Seville had FAR more tourists per capita than Madrid … they ALL stuck out, be they German, French, British, or American. Hell, I did, too, since the temps were still in the mid 90s and I refused to wear jeans. I think I did our country well since I speak marginal Spanish. And went drink-for-drink with the Spaniards …

  7. Baby Jeezus

    Man, where are the pics of hot spanish women dude…..?????…..I’m talking Penelope Cruz type chicks bro. Fuck the english brawds….I can see the trashy Belgiums and French brawds at my local hole……Yo did you go to the Valencia aquarium???????

    T.O. was cut by the Cowboys today because it was determined that he couldn’t quite possibly catch a pass with a straight jacket jersey on……

  8. klo

    Every Canadian I met overseas has been an asshole. All Canadians are clearly not assholes, but they don’t get some kind of award for being model travelers. I had the airplane seat next to my husband stolen by a Canadian on our honeymoon. After I helped him not forget his very expensive camera in the gate area of the airport. I’m just saying. And, I’m sorry, but I have to disagree with your assessment of the Brits as less annoying than Americans. They are everywhere and they are screaming and drunk and ruining my day starting at about 5:00 in the afternoon. Sometimes sooner.

  9. hedonistic

    Joe T. almost nailed it, almost.

    Capitalism might be much of, but probably not all of, our problem. We’re still a “young” country, just as spoiled, conceited, selfish, and self-absorbed as any teenager who grew up in affluent conditions and never had to face any real consequences for their actions.

    DCB might notice this more in the women, because he’s paying attention and likely to be constantly annoyed by it. I submit to you today that American men are even worse: Conflated sense of entitlement, privilege, and utter lack of self-reflection compared to men from other countries. Sad.

  10. Chris

    lazybizness echoes the usual nonsense that helps her kind sleep at night. To her and others, no matter what the US does, it is right, and there is nothing to learn from others. Everyone else needs to conform to our needs and expectations.

    What a terrible way to go through life. Stop patting yourself on the back while saying how great you are. America is a great country, as many others are as well. It doesn’t mean the US comes without faults, both minor and major.

    Lazybizness is everything I hate about Americans.

  11. Sweatpants

    I’ve only been to Europe once, but while I was there the people who pissed me off most were not other Americans, but Australians. My god, they were fucking insufferable. Fat, loud, ignorant, completely obnoxious.

  12. KassyK

    I think for many Americans with foreign parents or close relatives like myself or DCB, we have been exposed to a lot of culture or travel curiousity that unfortunately many Americans have not been…and hence many Americans come off ignorant and dumb but are really just inexperienced with any outside their realm of knowledge.

    Many other countries have the same problem only they aren’t “AMERICA” so there is a different stigma.

    By being powerful and rich we are automatically hated regardless of how amazing some of us are individually.

  13. Doug

    My wife (fiancee at the time) did a three month trip around Europe immediately after 9/11. That was a cool time to travel cause everyone was on our side so to speak. I vividly remember a memorial with well wishes at the base of this statue in Prague (the horse with the rider holding the flag).

    Other than that, Americans were my least favorite tourist. Most wanted to bring America to Europe instead of adapting to and absorbing the culture of the country they were in. Our Rick Steve’s guidebook was the bomb, although you had to factor out the old people shit. Aussies were my favorite. Always chipper, helpful, and ready for a good time, we still keep in touch with some.

    On a different note, the place you were partying in looks pretty fucking cool. I love the arched bricks, so old seeming. Makes me wonder what those walls have seen. You don’t get that sense in America. America provides a pretty facade, like its people, while Europe revels in its history, warts and all.

    Obviously these are generalizations not meant to cover every single place or person in either country. There are always exceptions.

  14. Wendy

    it sounds very dismal and annoying. Hopefully it will get better because I am annoyed by these stupid young people with no class. I was never that ridiculous in my youth. What has happened?

  15. KassyK

    Peter–Its my cooter. She gets confused when she’s been neglected. 🙂

    I don’t mean we are rich necessarily–I mean how we are viewed by other countries:

    Arrogant and Rich

    Which very often is not true…at least my cooter and I like to think so…

  16. cosmic shambles

    I can’t believe you guys are railing against ideas like “capitalism” and a “free-market system”. So, you are saying America would be better with MORE government-imposed regulation? Perhaps if there were more impoverished people in the U.S. our attitude would be better and we would be viewed more favorably by other nations.

    Why don’t you just send all of your hard-earned money to me and I will figure out how to spend it for you. It will make you a better American, I promise.

  17. DCVita

    I agree with you. Nothing irks me more than someone that goes to a foreign country and tries to impose his or her own ignorant and closed mided views on others. I am going to Italy next week and I am sure I will have some very interesting observations as well!

  18. Uh, Reality

    I’m afraid that KassyK’s cooter had it right. The largest economy in the world (12.41 trillion) makes us rich, very rich. Peter North you are, quite simply, a douchebag.

    Let’s hear it for KassyK’s cooter!

  19. Peter North

    Uh, Reality,
    you will not impugn my cocksmanship with this vacuous remark.
    Try other metrics, like income per capita, Pareto Index, etc…
    and BTW, the EU is the largest economy in the world.

  20. Roissy

    funny how america made it to top dog status by the brow sweat of a bunch of ignorant, uncouth hicks.

    so funny the eurotrash might want to stop laughing for a moment and learn a lesson or two from their betters.

  21. Mandy

    As much as I agree with DCB about the self-indulgent and entitled attitudes of Americans abroad, I’d say it’s hit or miss. Backpacking through hostels, you either hit a group of really cool fellow travelers, or a bunch of people who are there with daddy’s money to party and get wasted. It’s the whole Rocky Point (real name: Puerto Pe?asco) mentality–when people go to other countries to have a good time, they act like it’s a giant amusement park, and forget that there’s a local culture and that they’re constructing an image of their country.

    Sorry you got stuck with a bunch of losers, DCB, but I’m sure you hit some fun and educated Americans too.

  22. Elsa

    While I generally agree with you that we more…sophisticated…Americans have a duty to represent our country, and that this is a bit hopeless (every time I go to France I am told I am not a “real” American because I speak fluent French and am thin), I think you might just be the slightest bit arrogant. 😉 But that is part of what makes your blog what it is.

    Also…I write a blog dealing with economics (and fashion), so for all of you complaining about capitalism: stop. Unfettered communism resulted in the hell that was East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Of course capitalist systems aren’t perfect–but they’re the closest thing to it.

  23. Baby Jeezus

    You can have communism without oppressive regimes who stifle descent…..Cuba, Russia were the worst examples of communism…

  24. Roissy

    baby jeebuz:

    it’s been tried. 60s hippie communes. all the communism without the untidy gulags and forced famines.

    guess what happened? every single one of them failed.

    seems a little something called human nature intruded.

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