Cool Travel Conversation Stoppers          - 26/8/2008      <--Prev : Next-->

On our travels to check up on the OffSpring, we have discovered the perfect way to get rid of unwanted conversationalists.

Not that we are anti-social at all, we love to meet new people and to converse with perfect strangers ! American folk are particularly engaging, they love to chat with almost anyone and are genuinely interested in folk who are obviously from far away places.

Although we like to think we have Americanised well, we are dead giveaways as soon as we open our mouths !! "Are y'all from New Zealand ? Or oh, your accent is so awesome !" often precedes a friendly smile and an instant rapport.....

Many Continental people are not approachable as a rule, eye contact is often avoided, and to indulge in conversation with unfamiliar persons is unusual. But Americans go out of their way to be friendly.

HeeHoo loves to sit at a coffee table or margarita bar and make friends. He loves people and somehow always attracts all the pretty young things who catch his eye and they all smile openly at him.

He thinks he is cute and approachable, I think it is his distinguished grey hair and the benign grandfatherly exterior he exudes !!

Somehow we have stopped telling people we are from Zimbabwe, "we are from Africa" it encompasses a lot more invitation and mystery ! "Africa oh my Goodness" they all beam, visions of lions and elephant and guerillas obviously chasing across their faces.

We do not look as though we have any obvious foreign diseases, being rotund and with healthy glowing faces, so an in-depth conversation almost always ensues, Americans never seem in a hurry as Continentals do.

They love to hear about our way of life, how things are so dramatically different to theirs, they adore hearing about our wildlife, our countryside, our wonderful genuine caring people.

But we have learned through experience a few definite instant conversation stoppers. For example, never start talking about the economy.

Show them a hundred billion Zimbabwe dollar note by all means !

It will gather gasps and oohs and aahs, One of the highest currency denominations in history, it is a real talking point. But never ever start talking about prices..... Billions, trillions and gadzillions make eyes glaze over and pupils stray in discomfort. .......

Never ever mention that a Zimbabwe teacher gets paid the same price as a tin of jam, A once entranced listener will become distinctly uncomfortable and probably meander away with a " wow.... nice to talk to y'all"

Now another instant way to lose a new friend, is to mention a jail term !

However innocent frivolous and victimised one feels oneself to be, a jail term in any civilised nation, is not taken lightly. Where there are laws, legal systems and standard behavioural norms, once you confess to having spent time "inside" you will never be looked at quite the same again ......

HeeHoo suddenly loses that air of benign respectability. His glorious silver mane suddenly takes on a tarnished, unattractive hue. That pretty young thing, or the clean cut all American boy, starts to shift uneasily.... . animated conversation drops to an icy uncomfortable trickle ... eyes dart about nervously and a new friendship is terminated as suddenly as it began.

Oh I love it, how to spoil HeeHoo's fun at a pavement coffee bar, I think I will invest in some black and white striped t shirts as soon as I can !!