I enjoy traveling and doing research. In my experiences traveling, I have met many a wonderful and diverse people from all kinds of backgrounds, from different parts of the world, people of different ages from teens to retirees. In my travels, I learned to drink alcohol. It was a little late in life, but I am fortunate to have missed college benders and underage drinking.
It all started when I arrived late to my destination. I had signed up to take six weeks of Spanish language classes and to stay with a host family. The school informed me that when I arrive in the city, I should come to the school or their residence located around the corner. But nobody was at the school or residence of the school’s owners. I was having something of a meltdown when a young woman ran up to me asking “are you my new sister?!” She gave me a hug and took me back to her host family.
After I parked my backpack in my new room, I took a minute to calm down. Then I joined the host family for dinner. It was an older middle-aged woman and her two teen daughters. My host sister was from Ohio. My Spanish at this point was not great. I struggled through dinner speaking only Spanish as my goal was fluency. Then, my Ohio sister invited me out for drinks and dancing. Normally I would have said no, but my anxiety was too high and I could not stand the thought of staying in my room until the morning when class started. So I joined her and her classmates from some university in Ohio.
We walked across town to a bar popular with young foreigners. We were pretty much the only people in the place at that point. As pushed some tables together and all ordered beers. I knew I did not enjoy beer but held one in my hand nonetheless. I tried sipping on it, but beer was just too awful.
Then “the yoga instructor” came in and joined our table. I could tell he was something of a local resident, to the extent that a foreigner can be local to Xela. After a quick chat, he left and came back with shots for the whole table. Nobody was excited about these shots. Nobody wanted them but he coaxed us into attempting to drink them. We obliged. That was the night I drank my first “tequila” shot. In reality it was aguardiente, a sugar based alcohol. My favorite part was sucking on the lime wedge after drinking it down. I was surprised at how much I didn’t not enjoy this shot.
Those were the only two drinks I had that night, and I did not even drink the beer. A week later my Ohio sister returned to the states and a new woman from California arrived. She stayed for a week before returning home. Then, a woman arrived from Europe who stayed with my same host family for the remainder of my time at the language school.
The week she arrived we went to play soccer with a group from the language school. This was the day our group began to form. There were five of us. While playing soccer, this one guy ran into me like a football player and I fell back on my head. My eyes immediately teared up. I was stunned and had to stop playing the rest of the night. That guy was the third in our group, then there were two other Americans from different parts of the country. We made fast friends. We went dancing and drinking frequently. We spent our days learning Spanish, our afternoons on learning trips and studying, and our nights enjoying ourselves. We made some great memories and still keep in touch. We drank entirely too much, but it is the memories that made the this particular trip so wonderful.