I wrote this play after overhearing a tourist complaining to a local in Oaxaca for not being able to speak English. Granted, it would help her because she comes into contact with foreigners regularly at the souvenir store where she works. BUT, this is Mexico so I put all the fault on the tourist, with his white privilege and arrogance, for not learning even the basics of tourism Spanish. This happens more often that you think.
This play will be produced later this year as part of our second “Una noche de las obras cortas.”
“Terrible Tourist” synopsis: a tourist in Mexico who can’t speak Spanish learns a lesson.
Ray, an American, average build and good looking
Blanca, a Mexican, very attractive
PLACE: A side-of-the-road restaurant in a mountainous rural area in Mexico
TIME: The present
(Lights up on two small tables with two or three chairs at each. A chalk written menu hangs on the wall listing 4 or 5 food offerings in Spanish. A radio plays Mexican music. BLANCA, dressed casually and wearing a traditional Zapotec apron, sits at a table and reads a magazine. RAY, his t-shirt sweat soaked and his face a little grimy, enters and stops as he wipes his face with a small towel)
RAY: Oh my god, food. Finally. (To Blanca) Hello, uh, hola.
BLANCA: Hola. ¿Cómo estás?
RAY: I’m fine. Ok. Buena. No, Bueno. She’s a girl so maybe buena, but I’m a man, so maybe bueno. Speaker or spoken to. Dammit! I’m fine, thanks. Wow, you’re beautiful.
BLANCA: Boo-ti-ful. Ah, bonita. ¿sí?
RAY: I don’t know bonita. But, you are definitely beautiful, hot. Uh, like Salma Hayek.
BLANCA: Yo? Como Salma Hayek? Conoces a Salma Hayek?
RAY: Co-no says? Cono-six? Uh, no comprendo.
BLANCA: Te ves cansado.
RAY: This is not good. Do you speak English? (pronounces the ‘h’) Haba English?
BLANCA: No hablo Inglés.
RAY: I speak Chinese. Do you speak Chinese? Ni hao.
BLANCA: Hablo español.
RAY: Dammit. Oh, wait. Uno monumento. (Takes a cell phone from his backpack) Do you have WiFi?
BLANCA: No wee-fee.
(RAY puts the phone back in the backpack and rummages for something else)
BLANCA: ¿Hablas español?
BLANCA: ¿Un poquito?
BLANCA: (putting her thumb and forefinger close together) Poquito. Un poquito.
RAY: Small? Close? Little?
(RAY rummages in his backpack again)
Great. Just freakin’ great. I lost my notebook. I need food. (gestures eating) Food. Food.
RAY: What’s comida? No, I want food. You know, tacos, enchiladas.
BLANCA: No tacos. No enchiladas. Tenemos sincronizadas, enfrijoladas y tlayudas.
RAY: Toyotas? I’m hungry enough to eat one.
(RAY sits and drinks from a bottle of water he took from his backpack)
I’ll be adios-ing in a minute. (waving) Just let me rest for a minute.
BLANCA: ¿Cómo se llama?
RAY: Ah, finally something I understand. My se llama is Ray.
RAY: Ray. R-A-Y. Ray. Like a ray of sun.
BLANCA: Ray. Soy Blanca.
RAY: Soy Blanca. Interesting name.
BLANCA: No soy Blanca. Solo Blanca.
RAY: Ok, Solo Blanca. My bad.
BLANCA: No, no. Soy Blanca, pero no Soy Blanca. Solo Blanca.
(RAY is totally confused)
RAY: You know what? I’m just going to call you Blanca. It’s easier. And my favorite movie is Casablanca.
RAY: Ok? No, it’s great! A real love story.
(BLANCA smiles and nods. RAY gestures as needed during the following)
This has not been my best day. I started on a hike this morning, you know, walking, in the mountains. But, I never found the village I was looking for. You know village, right? Small place, only a few people, not many houses. Dammit, what’s that word? So, I’ve been walking for hours trying to find someone to help me. You don’t understand anything I’m saying do you? Let’s try food again. Do you have eggs?
RAY: Yeah, ex. Like from a chicken.
(RAY walks like a chicken while clucking. He gestures that eggs fall from his butt)
BLANCA: (laughing) Ah, huevos.
RAY: Yeah, ey-bos. Do you have ey-bos?
BLANCA: No hay huevos. Te voy a cocinar una tlayuda.
BLANCA: No, no. Tlay. Tlay.
BLANCA: Sí. Ahora dices tlay-uda. Tlayuda.
RAY: Tlayuda. Tlayuda. I got it!!! Sí, I want a tlayuda. What is it? Chicken, beef, vegetables? (No response) Ahh, this is useless. Where can I find a bus? (More gestures) You know, big car. Many people.
BLANCA: ¡Ahh! ¿El autobús?
RAY: Autobús. Yeah, that’s probably it. To Puerto Escondido. To la mer, la mar, la more. (beat) The ocean.
BLANCA: Sí. Mañana en la mañana a las ocho.
RAY: Tomorrow, tomorrow, eight. Two days from now?
BLANCA: Autobús. Mañana en—
RAY: I know, I know. Mañana, mañana. Ok, let’s try for a hotel. Somebody will speak English there. Uh, dónde hotel?
BLANCA: ¿Hotel? ¿Quieres un hotel?
RAY: Yes. Sí, sí. Hotel.
BLANCA: No hotel.
RAY: Okay. Adiós.
(RAY puts on his backpack and exits. BLANCA waits a few seconds, moves towards the exit and stops)
BLANCA: Hey, Ray. I thought you wanted a tlayuda.
RAY: What the hell? All this time you knew…
BLANCA: I’m sorry, it gets boring up here. This is just my way of having some wicked fun.
RAY: Fun for you, maybe.
BLANCA: Have a seat over here.
(THEY both sit)
RAY: Have you lived in the US?
BLANCA: Colorado. Ten years.
RAY: So, that’s where you learned English.
BLANCA: I actually knew a lot before I went. That’s what Americans want, right?
RAY: It is.
BLANCA: So, when I see foreigners in Mexico who can’t speak Spanish, I have some fun with them.
RAY: I’m such a terrible tourist. (beat) Do you finally speak English to all of us losers?
RAY: Why me?
BLANCA: Porque tienes unos ojos bien bonitos.
BLANCA: Never mind. One tlayuda coming up.