I think of Mondays as my chance to highlight the cool new bar or club I visited over the weekend, however this past Friday was a much more personal and family-oriented experience.
I met Sarah a little over a week ago during my all-too-short night of salsa dancing. We met up again this past Friday afternoon at EAFIT.
She already had plans to meet Angela, one of her ten aunts, so I joined them for coffee. Angela was taking English classes, so communication between the three of us wasn’t without it’s follies, what with me trying to speak Spanish, however it was a fun time.
Her Aunt invited me to her brother’s 60th birthday party that night, and I gladly accepted.
Back at the apartment, I asked Maira what to expect, and she shrugged as if there’s nothing different about a birthday party in Colombia then in the USA, but I was still a little anxious knowing I would be the only outsider amongst a big family event.
It required the assistance of a few helpful people, however I managed to find the home hosting the party, and made my entrance with the offering of white wine in hand.
I was barely inside the living room when I was handed my first little plastic cup of Aguardiente.
Two older men were sitting down, playing guitar and singing songs in Spanish, and everyone seemed happy. Any insecurities melted away as the introductions were made.
The whole family welcomed me. I practiced my Spanish. I was able to speak English with a few people.
People were singing along with the guitarists, arroz con pollo and homemade chocolate cake were served, and eventually everyone was dancing.
I must’ve danced with at least five different family members including Sarah’s mom, sister Luisa, Angela, and a short stint with a 1-year old on my lap. I even received a few compliments which only reinforced my desire to get better!
Upon reflection, I realized how big a change it was from the not so long ago days when I use to be any party’s #1 wallflower.
Later in the night, as the cake was being presented, a man and a woman dressed up as a priest and a nun.
I don’t know why it happened, but they were quite funny. I made my exit at the same time as Sarah and her sister, catching a taxi back home around 1 am while others were still having a good time.
This was exactly the kind of experience I was hoping for when I decided to stop traveling and get to know people and a culture more deeply.