Audrey Hepburn could never be wrong. Therefore, when my mom offered me a 7 am flight to Paris the morning after Halloween, I decided that even then, Paris is always a good idea. This little decision did almost end up with me having to go to the airport in my gypsy/genie costume from the night before. As I ran back from the club at 4:30 am I begged the cab driver to wait for me to change. I would have never gotten through security with all those little medal medallions hanging off of that outfit.
Once I arrived in Paris, I dragged my groggy self straight to the nearest taxi. Like the typical American I am, I assumed everyone in Paris would speak English. Of course my cab driver did not. This is the moment I realized my French consisted of what I learned from Beauty and the Beast, Lady Marmalade, and Katy Perry. So unless I wanted to say, Bonjour, Voulez vous couchez avec moi ce soir, or Ménage à trois to this poor dude, I was out of luck. I must be the world’s worst charades player because he continued to give me a blank stare no matter how hard I tried to explain to him that I needed to pay with a credit card and go to my hotel. Finally after a few minutes of awkwardness, I was about to get out of the cab and find a driver who spoke English. But first, I took a shot in the dark and asked “Hablas Español?” His face lit up. “Sí!” Go figure. Once we found a common language, the rest of that drive was a breeze.
Tourism and pouring down rain is always a sucky combination. However, we found some ghetto umbrellas and made our way out to the sites anyways. My mom’s best friend Connie travels to Paris all the time and was our official tour guide for the weekend. She took us to The Louvre, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, that bridge where all the love birds hang a lock with their name on it (or people like me who do it with her mom), the Eiffel Tower, and of course a ton of shopping. I went to Paris with one bag and came back with three.
As much as I (j’)adored Paris, I definitely prefer our gypsies here in Sevilla. Here they bother you and try to make you pay them 5 euros for a cheesy palm reading and a twig that’s supposed to fend off evil, but if you ignore them they just leave you alone. In Paris, these gypsies were extremely aggressive and sneaky. The city is covered with warning signs in every language saying to beware of pickpockets. The gypsies would stand out front of all of the tourist sites holding a piece of paper and try to get you to sign whatever they were pretending to petition for. They come up to you and ask if you speak English and while you are distracted, one of their friends will pick pocket you. This is when I suddenly turned into a Spaniard and every time one approached me, I responded with, “No te entiendo. No. Grac(th)ias.” That normally got them to walk away. However, while we were looking at all of the locks on the bridge, a lady approached my mom. I was watching her out of the corner of my eye and saw her bend down with a gold ring in her hand then stand back up. She then asked my mom, “Did you drop this?” I was confused because I clearly saw she had it in her hand. My sweet little Irish mom smiled and said, “No, I didn’t! Thank you very much though!” The lady smiled back and said “Oh I have one just like it, go ahead and take it!” Again, my mom didn’t seem to think much of it and told her she should keep it. Then good ol’ Connie came running over and said “NO. Go away.” The lady then yelled every single curse word she could think of and stormed off with her lovely middle finger waving in the air. Classy. Connie then explained that this is a very common thing that the gypsies do in Paris and they either steal from you when you’re not looking or make you pay them after you take the ring.
My mom and I were warned several more times to be very cautious of pick pocketing while touring the Eiffel Tower. Now there are people who buy tickets to enter the tower and stay there all day stealing from the tourist. So my mom and I had our Longchomp bags zipped up and tucked “safely” beneath our arms. After a long but fast moving line, I handed my ticket over to enter. The man smiled at me and said, “Oh are you with the group?” and pointed. This is what the group looked like.
Once my mom and I finally finished laughing and got into the elevator, I looked around for some sketchy guy who was by himself and trying to rob us. My mom and I never saw anyone that looked remotely like this. Just a ton of tourists enjoying taking pictures at the top of the city. There are different levels at the tower and you need to take two different elevators to get to the top. While we were waiting in line for the second elevator, these two girls around my age said to me in perfect English, “Oh go ahead of us, our friends are a few people behind.” Cool! Thanks. I walked past and accidentally bumped into the one girl, adjusted my bag so I wouldn’t hit her again, mumbled a quick sorry and went up. I was a little bit confused when a few minutes later I realized they were still behind us, but didn’t think too much into it. At the top of the tower my mom and I took a ton of pictures until we were completely frozen and had to go down. We then met up with Connie, who didn’t go with us because she is very afraid of heights, for lunch. Connie then told us that a few hours before, she went to buy a snack from a vending machine. There were three little girls on scooters waiting nearby and she told them to go ahead. They shook their heads and just waited. Connie looked around for their parents and put some money into the machine. As soon as the change dropped, their little hands were in and out of the machine and they were off on their scooters. Sneaky little gypsies.
After an unbelievable crepe, we went to pay and my mom noticed a scratch on her bag. She then looked closer and realized that someone had sliced a hole in it. The hole was too small to put your hand through,but we could see the long line that the knife tried to cut. Immediately, my mom knew what had happened. Those young girls who looked like every other tourist with their cameras out and completely normal attire had tried to cut open our bags. When they told us to pass them the first one tried with me, but I thought I bumped her and moved my bag right away. My mom felt someone touch her bag and moved hers as well, but obviously a little too late. As upsetting as this was, luckily they were not successful and weren’t able to cut all the way through to reach in. This is concerning for several reasons. One, that there are people who pay to go to a monument just so they can steal from people. Two, that they look completely normal. And three, that people can sneak knifes that easily past all of the security and medal detectors. Weird.
While the French definitely have a strong reputation for being rude to Americans (and smelling like cheese), I met some of the nicest people there (and what’s wrong with cheese?). My mom and I tried not to let the incident at the Tower ruin our great experience so far. Every waiter and store owner had us laughing so hard and were unbelievably friendly. I actually really enjoyed the French people. We rolled ourselves out of the crepes shop and went back to get ready for the airport. My mom then realized she was missing 50 euro. My poor little mom was having the worst luck. She rushed back to the restaurant and to her delight our waitress had seen it on the floor and tucked it away for her. So even though there are some awful people out there, the honest and kind ones like these certainly make up for it.
It was then finally time to go. My dad had left last week and it was so hard to say bye. I knew it would be the same with my mom. I hugged her tight and tried not to get my Parisian red lipstick on her and got into the cab. I may go to school across the country from my family, but something about being on another continent certainly makes things a lot harder. No matter how old I get, I’ll always be my parents little girl. Luckily, I have an amazing host family here in Sevilla who have just adopted me as their own. I was welcomed home with hugs and kisses and my little sister waiting anxiously to show me the new One Direction video, which I’ve given up on pretending to know anything about. I gave them the little presents I bought them and heard all about their weekend. We ate our dinner together with The Simpsons (in weird spanish voices) like we do every night and the kids got ready for bed. I miss my parents, but it definitely feels good to be home here in Sevilla. I never imagined having a family like this and every time I am homesick, a quick chat with my host mom can always cheer me up. I love Paris, but it has nothing on my families. I’ll take that over the Eiffel Tower any day, but fortunately, this weekend I had both.