The Newcomer

Riches are where you find them

by Frances Potts

I love delving into the riches of other cultures. Unfortunately, English is my only language. But that hasn't hindered me from buying a saffron on a dock in Turkey, tortillas hot ofd a roadside griddle in Mexico and a Bavarian jacket at a Christmas market in Germany.

Plop me down in a setting strange to me and I feel right at home. I love the sound of unfamiliar words in my ear, faces that don't look like mine, and neighborhoods that hold surprises.

I don't ask for hamburgers in Greece, the home of ouzo, crispy salads with feta cheese and big green olives. I stay away from tourist traps, if I can, and try to follow the locals to places where I have to point to an item on the menu and then wait to see what new taste they'll serve me.

But, I confess, I have joined the mix of tourists and locals sipping those cups of hot, spicy, sticky sweet mulled wine on crowded German streets during the Christmas season. I like sleeping at inns in feather beds that cover you like big, plump pillows, and splashing at indoor pools where German families with picnic baskets stretch a swim into a half-day event.

I equally enjoy sleeping under the Colorado stars alongside a river from which I snagged supper and took a cold, quick, brisk morning wash-up.

I loved being the only Anglo in a Mexican mountain village where the women met companionably to wash clothes in a sparkling stream that ran through town...where everyone spoke Spanish and they gave me hot chocolate brewed outside in a huge, iron pot over an open fire, and I loved their fireworks!

When I am privileged to experience other cultures, my eyes are like a camera, snapping memories. Memories of that fellow squatting in the shade of his camel because it was the only protection against the blazing sun, the mariachi band escorting a row of little boys and girls dressed in the dazzling white of their first communion outfits as they paraded to church before the sun was up, and even memories of the topless volleyball players soaking up sun and exercise a la naturale on a beach across the ocean, far from my home.


It's the stuff of which our world is made. And, if we keep an open heart and an open mind, it's there for us to explore and enjoy.

. Frances Potts is a retired journalist who spent her career working at several newspapers in Washington state.


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