The phenomenon of English slags abroad is widely accepted/tolerated. There are programmes in the UK dedicated to this behaviour, documenting the crazy conquests of vulgar sex maniacs as they down too many vodka red bulls and sleep with any man they can get their hands on.
What I didn’t expect was to witness the same behaviour in Argentina. How naive I was.
I’d signed up for a sunset horse ride tour with a group of friends I’d met in Chile and travelled to Mendoza with. It sounded romantic and relaxing.
After a bumpy ride on the back of one of the tallest horses I’ve ever come across, during which time I had to master the skill of trotting down steep hills with the reigns in one hand and my digital SLR in the other, we returned to the ranch to enjoy a beautiful lightning storm and BBQ.
As we waited for the meat to cook, I overheard Tracey*, an overweight, loud-mouthed pommie, telling her friend she wanted to marry one of the ‘cowboy’ brothers who’d been our guides on the ride. She asked us how to say ‘Will you marry me?’ in Spanish, and I gave her the lingo.
Two minutes later, Daniel, the eligible ranch boy, wandered by and her friend piped up, ‘My friend has a question she wants to ask you!’
I cringed as Tracey racked her brains for the right phrase, before sheepishly proclaiming in English ‘I was going to ask you to marry me.’
Daniel took it pretty well. He shouted to his friend that he was engaged and I thought ‘Good on him for humouring her.’
The next couple of hours, we had the most amazing BBQ of tender beef sandwiches and drank from 5-litre bottles of local wine.
Then one of the local Argentinian guys announced that there was a newly engaged couple in the house. We all played along and clapped, then some moderately inebriated individuals started chanting that they should kiss.
My first shock came when Daniel launched in and gave Tracey a full-on snog.
Next, the local guy called the happy couple over and pretended to marry them in quite an elaborate ceremony, during which other locals threw rice out of the kitchen window to act as confetti.
Keeping with the pretence, the couple took to the floor for their first dance while another local guy played his guitar and sang local music. We all clapped along, and Daniel did some great line dancing moves, kicking his cowboy boots in the dust.
As the couple waved and disappeared round the corner, we all laughed at the idea that they might consummate their marriage, but the laughter died down, and the couple didn’t return for 30 minutes!
It seemed Tracey had got exactly what she wanted!
We sat in the moonlight chatting to our new friends until a little after midnight. People started to head for the minibus, but Tracey stayed to one side, thanking us for attending her wedding. She never did get on the bus. But minutes after we left, a horse rode by, bearing the couple bareback, with bottles tied to its tail.
Tracey had pulled.
The whole experience was pretty amusing to witness, but what made the whole thing better (or worse depending on how you look at it) is that we told this story to some friends in the park a couple of days later. This prompted my friend to remember a promiscuous girl she’d seen in her hostel in Salta just days earlier who’d hooked up with a guy within minutes of meeting him and gone on to have full-on sex in the corridor that separated the bar from the toilet block.
We sympathised with our friend for having to witness such crude behaviour, before it dawned on us that the description of the perpetrator was strikingly similar.
A quick showing of photos later confirmed that it was the same Tracey who’d been the star of both stories.
Way to go Tracey! You’ve made yourself quite a reputation among the backpacking community, and made me just that little bit more ashamed to be British.
* I have changed her name to protect her identity