The disappointment was a familiar feeling. I had asked specifically if the empanada had olives in it, since I have held an intense and abiding hatred for them all my life.
“No, no tiene,” the lady had said. No, it doesn’t have any.
But as we walked out of the store and I bit into the crunchy shell, I could immediately taste them… olives. Of course.
I say of course because Craig and I have been lied to many times on this trip. A bus leaves in 20 minutes? Great! But 40 minutes later we’re still sitting in our cramped seats, awaiting departure, slowly asphyxiating on the fumes of a hundred idling buses. The waitress says they have ketchup? Good, because I wouldn’t order this particular dish otherwise. Cue me choking down some dry scrambled eggs without my favorite condiment.
So what gives? Why you gotta play me like that, South America?
I’ve worked out a possible three reasons for the lying.
- They have no idea what you’re actually saying or asking. What’s the default answer for anything you don’t understand? “Yes!” As in the taxi driver smiling and nodding assuredly as you explain where you want to go, and then acting really confused five minutes later when they, inevitably, ask for the address again.
- They’re just trying to secure your business, whatever means possible. If they just say they have ketchup, you’ll stay and order. So what if, when you blithely ask “Can I have some ketchup?” to the other waitress who brings your food, she gives you a really strange look as if to imply, I’ve never heard of this strange thing you’re asking for in my life.
- They really want to please you. It doesn’t matter if the empanada has olives in it… if they just believe in it hard enough, you won’t even taste them!
The lying, which was so blatant and shocking when we first started out, is now just a matter of routine. Just like so many other things, we’ve gotten used to it and have become guarded against it. It can be frustrating and it certainly adds some spice to our lives… a spice that is about as surprising and unlooked for as an olive in my empanada, but hey, it’s all part of the adventure, right?