10 Aug 2007

I've been to parties like this before.

We've been spectacularly successful at meeting the locals through couchsurfing. Besides showing us interesting parts of town and occasionally providing crash space, they're eager to introduce us to their friends. Getting to know the locals is a basic mission for every Traveller Not Tourist, right?

But you need more than an introduction. This isn't high school any more, and I'm happy to kickstart a conversation with anyone I can talk to. But that qualifier is a killer; while I can now order a coffee in six languages, I'm conversational in only one, and I've learnt that even in English I often speak in riddles.

So I lurk at the edge of the circle of friends who are not-quite making space for me, like the unpopular kid, and try to understand one word in ten. I'm sure that many of them could speak english, but I've given them no reason to. One-on-one is hard; groups, where most social interaction happens, are impossible.

I make my excuses and head off. I haven't done my homework.