Saturday, July 17, 2004

Enthusiast Ends Up Being Ugly American By Accident
Two United States coaster enthusiasts turned out to be Ugly Americans this past week, despite their best efforts.  According to Ben Gavel, 35, he and his friend, Don Timmerman, 37, had wanted to avoid this at all costs.
"We tried, we failed," said a despairing Gavel.
Claimed the enthusiast, "we did our best not to be typical jerk American tourists.  We both tried to study enough books on Spanish and German to make ourselves reasonably conversant and not make locals switch to English.  And we also read books on customs so we wouldn't insult anyone.  We were certain never to openly disparage anything and look like asses.  But then we ran into to trouble."
The trouble, according to Gavel, was when a raging thunderstorm hit Barcelona's Port Aventura, right as the pair of enthusiasts was waiting in line for Dragon Kahn, the park's signature looping coaster.
"We'd been waiting there patiently for a few minutes," he said.  "The rain was obviously not letting up for a while, but we figured we'd just stay there until it stopped and the ride got going again.  But then one of the ride ops said something extensive in Spanish and the gates opened.  We were like, huh, well, maybe they run it in the rain?  Heck, why not!  And we sat down.  That's when everyone started pointing and laughing, and the op had to angrily point for us to get off.  How awful.  How rude."
Apparently, the long-winded Spanish explanation was not a call to board the ride, but was the following: "We do not anticipate the ride opening for some time.  You may wait in the station as long as you choose, but we do not guarantee how long it will be.  We shall open the gates for you to walk through and leave via the exit ramp if you choose.  Thank you."
"We didn't know Spanish well enough to catch all that," said Gavel.  "Damn it!  We were tricked into being Ugly Americans!  Tricked, I tell you!"