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21 August 2004


Spanish Waters  Curacao, Netherlands Antilles  N 12.0480  W 068.5171


English and the Barracuda




The number of boats in the Spanish Waters Lagoon continues to increase as cruisers position themselves for the change in seasons.  With this change will come milder weather patterns which will accommodate boats headed north, west or east.  With the additional boats we are now surrounded with Dutch flags, German flags, UK flags, Austrian flags, Danish flags, French flags, and probably more.  On Monday and Thursday nights these cruisers gather at a water front restaurant named Sarifundy's for happy hour (yes it is still legal in most countries of the world).  With all these nationalities represented the language most utilized in exchanging the latest gossip is English.  Even at this Dutch restaurant the kitchen language is English.  This all makes me believe than it is time to abolish all other languages and make everyone speak only English or American as most of us call it.  Why it is so apparent since even in these international gatherings people forego their native tongue in favor of English.  Think of the money that could be saved.  It would no longer be necessary to translate movies and comic books into other languages, road signs need only be in English and those funny safety cards in airplanes need only be printed in one language.  Hey, English is already so popular they don't even bother to translate People Magazine. Those US reality shows would no longer need  voice-overs. And while we're at it those German and Japanese cars we real Americans like so well would cost a lot less if they converted everything to the inch system thereby avoiding that crazy metric confusion. How do I know how much a gallon of gas cost when they tell me a price in liters  (I would also bet that the price of gasoline would be less if the guy who pumped it didn't have to speak three or four languages).   And think of the time you could save on the internet, on  telephones and ATMs  that ask you to  press one for English, two for Spanish, three for French etc.  It's evident since they always put English as the first selection that the world is prepared for the conversion.


But at last my friends tell me that they speak English at these gatherings because we US citizens don't have  second languages capabilities. Now what does that mean?   Does it mean we are too lazy to learn a second language?  I know there are reason we don't speak other languages.   Since language instruction typically doesn't start until after a student enters puberty, we insure that there are other things on the students mind.  And we never have the opportunity to practice another language. Ya there are a plethora of cable channels broadcasting in a dozen different languages but this one-way communication.  And how about the reasoning that we became Americans in the first place so we could be homogenized into one culture. And speaking of Americans, these guys from South and Central  America keep calling themselves Americans even when  they speak Spanish, French, Dutch,  Portuguese and dozens of other  languages. Okay so we meant North Americans but wait Mexico is in North America and  how about those guys up north that speak French?   



Do I feel inadequate because I don't speak a second language?  Well, well hell no, besides I took a couple years of French in high school and what else do you expect.


Okay maybe a little, okay maybe a lot.


Never mind.


Barracuda are one of the most interesting fish we encounter.  They appear very menacing with their bared teeth and curious nature.  We see them almost every time we go snorkeling. They loom in shallow water waiting for an evening meal and are unintimidated by our presence in the water.  You can swim right up to them and they won't budge.  The dive books and tourist guides tell you to be cautious around barracuda but other literature will tell you that there has never been a reported incidence of an unprovoked attack by a barracuda.  Well, we don't mind them and they don't mind us but now one has taken up residence under our boat. From the net on our bow you can see this rather large fish taking advantage of the shade.  The number of watercraft speeding around the lagoon doesn't encourage swimming off the boat and this traffic also stirs up the water just enough to make it a bit murky.  So when you do go into the water to clean the bottom or check the zincs, you never quite know where our barracuda might be until you look over your shoulder and there he is, five feet of razor sharp teeth slinking by close enough to reach out and touch.   It's looking  at me like I'm a breakfast buffet.  Is that a smile amongst all those teeth?  Maybe this is not a good day to clean the bottom of the boat.  Is that Rene calling me?


Okay so I'm exaggerating, we have to entertain ourselves somehow as we wait for hurricane season to blow out..   



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