The Cowboy

Every Wednesday it is the same. Merchants, and the occasional street urchin, come from nearby towns to sell products for the Cagli, Italy's market day. There is a man with bins of socks, and food trucks displaying local meats, cheeses and vegetables. Everyone from the small town of about 10,000 turn out to shop, and I am no different. At least, in this respect.

There is a bin with some really nice fedora style hats. Browns, grays, plaids. I spy a nice earth toned pattern, which seems to fit the landscape, and with a few Italian words strike a deal. Nothing extravagant. Just enough to get by. I am about to leave when the merchant asks if I am Brazilian. It is a compliment, but not accurate. I tell him no, and he says, "Oh. Your Italian has a Brazilian accent."

I wasn't aware such a thing existed.

Sorry. I am a farce. Not Brazilian.

If not, then what?

Travel has a way of challenging who we are in every aspect. If it doesn't, then it's not really travel. Knowing where you come from is one thing, but to see yourself through the eyes and knowledge of others is another story. You're not your parents, nor are you how your best friends see you. To the stranger on the road. The marketplace merchant. The beautiful Slavic woman. The gelato waiter. You are only what they know.

I am a cowboy. My life is an enduring parody of Walker Texas Ranger. Not quite. I am Jim West as portrayed by Will Smith in the 1999 film, Wild Wild West. I can still hear the theme song's lyrics ; Wild Wild West, Jim West, desperado, rough rider, no you don't want nada.

This can't be right. 

--

There is a border check when passing into Croatia. The Croats hand their id's along with my passport. The guard looks at my bright eyes gleaming in the back seat, and begins to say something. Everyone begins to laugh. He hands the documents back. 

"What was that all about?"

"He says that he did not need to see your passport to know you were American. He took one look at the fact that you were wearing your seat-belt and knew it!" says Miroslav. 

--

It is quite hot. Heatwaves rip all over the Earth, and Poreč,Croatia is no different. This area of Istria has been a part of the UNESCO world heritage site since 1997. Today, it is the site of tourists basking in the shade of umbrellas. I sit comfortably with Snezana, the mother of a good friend. She has treated me to a nice helping gelato, and though we cannot communicate well with words the necessity for ice cream is understood. 

The waiter comes and immediately notices I don't look like a typical Slavic male. 

"Where are you from?" he asks. 

"I'm from Texas."

He pauses with a pensive look on his face, eyes never leaving mine. 

"Ah yes! Cowboy! What city? Dallas, San Antonio, or Houston?"

"Houston."

"Oh man! Houston Rockets! Houston we have a problem!" he proclaims. "So, what flavor would you like."

We are always someone else to everyone else.