Don't wanna be an American idiot...

Written by 

IT’S stupid-o-clock. It’s some time between 2am and 2.30am and I can’t sleep.

I probably would have been able to sleep had I not incorrectly set the air conditioning/thermostat thing to ‘ludicrous’ heat before settling into bed.

My dreams began peaceful and placid and slowly progressed to being infinitely weird and hell-like.

You know those dreams where you’re parched and desperately trying to find something to drink? You got it, times infinity.

Air conditioning is admittedly something I’ve never been able to get my head around.

I mean, hailing from England how or why the hell would I know how to operate an air conditioning unit?

All I’ve ever done is light gas fires to combat the freezing winters.

Air conditioning? Pfah.

Where I come from ‘air conditioning’ is opening or closing a window. Or asking your flatulent friend to leave the room.

Holidays in Egypt… that’s what air conditioning is designed for for us Brits.

So yes, I can’t sleep. My bedroom, and in fact my entire apartment, is currently a blazing furnace.

I’m in a state of undress with sweat dripping from my brow onto the keyboard. Ewww…

It’s warmer in here than it is in the desert on a summer’s day.

I hear you… ‘open the windows’ and ‘stop whingeing’!

They’re open. And it’s really warm outside. Even at stupid-o-clock.

San Diego, it seems, doesn’t do ‘chilly’.

It’s actually so warm here throughout each and every day, that the city’s parks and recreational spaces boast an unbelievable amount of tramps – or ‘bums’ as they’re called here.

They’re largely harmless. They just sit around sleeping, acting weird occasionally if anyone offers them a glance.

It’s like a year-round bum summer camp. And we’re their entertainment.

 

Honesty deserves charity

Anyhow I digress.

As I write this I’m also Googling the bloody air-con unit instruction manual in the hope that I can rest easy tonight without the sleep/sauna detox.

I might talk the talk and walk the walk but there is no doubt, here in the U.S. I am a still a stranger in a foreign land – just as much as I was in next-door Tijuana.

I’m daily misunderstood, and often confused.

In the nine weeks that I’ve been here in San Diego I can tell you that Americans are a fascinating bunch.

Oh and in case you didn’t know, they are crazily open and honest about health and religion.

These are two things that people here love to talk about openly.

These are two things that we Brits never really talk about when we’re in the UK.

We have a funny way of avoiding discussions concerning our illnesses, ailments, and of course religious leanings.

Personally I’m not really comfortable talking about either – especially with someone I’ve just met.

“What do you take?” I was asked recently.

“When?”

“Now? Nothing, I feel fine”.

Again: “Seriously... what do you take?”

Me: “Uh… aspirin or ibuprofen for a headache… a ‘Lemsip’ if I’ve got a cold…?”

“Aha…”

*cue long lingering stare*

“And…?”

*stare continues*

“And… nothing… I don’t take anything. Nothing to get me through the day, nothing to help me sleep, nothing.”

“Isn’t that weird?” I was then asked.

“What REALITY?”

It’s only when you go to a supermarket (otherwise known here as a ‘grocery store’) that you begin to appreciate the national obsession with remedies.

 

Drugs - 'aisle' buy that for a dollar!

 

Shelves and aisles of pills and potions to cure everything from headaches and sports injuries, to sleep deprivation and toothaches. There are pills for things I’ve never heard of.

And natural remedies featuring seemingly unnatural-sounding ingredients.

 

'

'D3 5000 I.U.'....? Isn't that a brand of motor oil?

 

Sure, we have pharmacies in England but wow.

I’m sure there’s actually medication for medication here.

When you’re seen to be new to town religion is the other big talking point.

Within seconds of meeting some people they’ll ask you if you go to church and if you want to go to their church.

I always consider that I must have sinned during the conversation leading up to that point and that they’re trying to cleanse my soul as a result.

I immediately feel uncomfortable and I try to joke my way out of it.

Bad move.

So forgive me.

The actual process of greeting someone here in California (or indeed the U.S.) also confuses me on a daily occurrence.

Rather than simply offering a hardy handshake or a pat on the back, people here seem obsessed with a greeting known as ‘fist-bumping’ – or variations of it.

 

Bump day

How the pros do it

It’s basically the action of putting out your fist for someone else to ‘bump’ with their own fist.

I’ve observed plenty of Californians doing it here and I must admit, they look cool.

I however, do not.

There are simply too many variations for me to get my head around.

There’s the actual fist bump. Then there’s the high-five. And there’s some of other part-handshake part-grip thing.

And these are just three of the more popular types of greetings.

And for me, who is new to town and the whole fist-bump thing, I panic when someone puts out their fist or hand because I don’t know which greeting they’re planning on using.

It’s always an awkward moment and, despite the fact that the whole thing is supposed to look and feel ‘cool’, I don’t. I can almost feel my coolness dripping away as and when someone puts out their hand for the bump , or slap, or whatever.

I always hesitate.

Once or twice I admit, I’ve pretty much just thought ‘bollocks to it’ and shaken the outstretched bump fist.

Epic fail.

I actually freak out that one day I’m going to face-palm someone by accident.

So I’ve taken to YouTube to try and teach myself some basic rules…

Anyhow. People are strange when you’re a stranger right?

 

Hey, I noticed my last blog post was popular in Latvia.

Bizarre, but very cool. Welcome Latvians!

At the bottom of this blog is a ‘translate’ icon if anyone wants to read it in a different language.

I can’t promise my ramblings will make any more sense but hey.

Thanks for lending me your eyes.

 

Want daily updates on this bizarre life I live in…?

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tristan_nichols

Tristan Nichols

Tristan is a multi award-winning journalist from England.

In his professional capacity he spent nearly a decade-and-a-half travelling the world covering breaking stories for the UK-based newspaper, 'The Herald'.

During this time he spent approximately four-and-a-half months on Afghanistan's frontline working as a writer/blogger/photographer and broadcaster for The British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS).

In his career he has worked in countries including Iraq, Brazil, Sierra Leone, Norway, The Falkland Islands, Bahrain, Brunei, and of course Afghanistan.

In his personal life he's travelled far and wide lapping up the atmosphere of some of the world's most beautiful, and undoutedly most unbeautiful places imaginable.

Having quit and boxed up the life he knew, he's relocated to Tijuana in Mexico to learn Spanish and be a fiance to the beautiful Jacky.

His popular travel blog 'Once Upon A Time In Mexico...' is regularly updated with unusual and humorous observations on his new life across the pond in the land of tacos and banda music.

Oh, and of course he's going to bullsh*t on about writing a book or a solo album for years to come.

For full details and biog, photographs, travel features and stories, and other interesting bits and bobs visit www.tristannichols.co.uk.

Alternatively find him on Twitter by searching for: tristan_nichols

Website: crazybeautifulmadnessinmexico.blogspot.co.uk

Social Profiles

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Login to The HoliDaze to submit articles and comments or register your blog.