June 24, 2016
It is hard to believe that I have already been in Mexico for a week. It feels like I have been here longer, but time is still going by very fast. I already do not want to leave in four weeks. What a short time five weeks really is. But, I am doing my best to make every moment full of adventure. The last 24 hours in Mexico have been my favorite so far.
Tomorrow, Zusel, one of my host sisters, is flying to the United States to work as a nanny for a year in Boston. Last night, she had a going party (a Gudbai party as it was spelled on the facebook event page) and I am very thankful that I was invited and able to go. I had a great time! It was my first time at a party in Mexico and pretty much my first time at any party as a teenager/young adult. Yes, same as I didn’t drink in college, I didn’t party either.
The party didn’t start until 9pm, but nothing really does in Querétaro until then. Diana, my other host sister, picked me up at my house a little after nine and we rode a taxi quite a ways to the house where the party was held.
When we arrived, Zusel and a few of her friends were standing outside the open front door. I figured they were just enjoying the evening outside and waiting for people to arrive. However, once we got to the entry way, I could smell why we were waiting and it made me smile. The floor had been freshly mopped and was still drying. The smell of fresh, clean bleach floated onto the front patio and reminded me of my best friend, Kathy, because her house always smells like that, too. After waiting a few minutes, someone check the floor. It was dry and as we walked inside, I was informed as to why we waited, but I told them I could smell why. It was very interesting to me when the reply I received was, “What smell?” I think that it was such a familiar smell to them that no one noticed but me, because, in my house, clean smells differently.
Anyway…. Enough writing about freshly mopped floors.
Zusel invited many of her friends to the party, but most of them did not know one another. When silence filled the room of people waiting for more people to arrive, Zusel came over to me and asked me to get people talking. I decided that it would be easier to get them listening instead of talking, so, I called attention and began an impromptu presentation about myself in Spanish. It was pretty great. I just talked about basic small talk, but it worked. After I began talking, I didn’t stop hardly at all for the next five hours!
All of this talking didn’t leave much time for drinking either. But I did try my host sister’s beer when she offered. I told her that it tasted very watery. She laughed and said it was because it was light. Her friend then offered me to try the beer that he prefers. That one tasted more beer-y. I also ended up trying some wine that someone brought called Gato Negro (Black Cat.) It reminded me of church and after having more than a few sips, I was mentally agreeing with my grandfather that wine would be better served cold or with ice. I know, it is not how wine is supposed to be, but it is how both my grandpa and I think it should be.
I spent a lot of time talking to many different people who had varying levels of English skills. Everyone was very eager to help me practice my Spanish and very understanding when I lost or mixed up or simply did not know words. Those who spoke some English would speak English to me and I would reply in Spanish. This way, the practicing went both ways. However, this was not without major struggles at times.
As the party ramped up, the music got amped up. First on large speakers, and then on a drum set someone began to play. As I was trying to have a conversation in the kitchen, it went from speaking loudly to completely shouting back and forth with the other people right next to me and it was still impossible for us to hear one another. But, it was all good. I ended up migrating out front the house so that I could hear myself think. But, I didn’t have long to think before I was right back into speaking Spanish. It was awesome to be hanging out with locals my age, well, mostly older than me actually. They kept calling me very young. None the less, everyone I met was very fun to talk to.
Just as I was getting more fluid with my conversations and actually speaking on some complex subjects (such as my impressions of Donald Trump, the wall he has planned, and the completely wrong stereotype he is building around the Mexican nationality), the party shifted to something that I have no experience in: Dancing!!!
I was promptly led by one of the amigos I had been talking to into the house. I knew that this really wasn’t going to go well for me, but I was up for having a great time and trying my best to keep up. I was obviously staring at my feet while watching his feet effortlessly patter across the floor. He kept trying to have me straighten up and look up. There was no way that was happening though! I felt like I had more than two left feet and was obviously struggling a lot. Everyone was so very nice though and said I did great for my first time. (I really didn’t do that great at all haha) But, I did have a great time trying!
After dancing a few songs, I stepped aside and watched the natural dancers take the floor. One of the reasons why I don’t like parties or dancing in the US is because dancing means trashy wiggling to music that I never listen to. However, I really enjoyed dancing last night because the dances all had steps and a purpose. As long as you knew the steps, you could just keep dancing and dancing. And that is what people were doing. They played a variety of song types for me to listen to and for each of the songs, people were dancing the corresponding partner dances together.
After they had played several Spanish songs, they asked me what a popular song and dance is at parties in the US. Now, you and I both know that I don’t go to parties nor do I dance nor do I listen to the most current mainstream American teenager music. However, thankfully, I know a little swing dancing and lots of good country music. I pulled up the song Honky Tonk Badonkadonk by Trace Atkins cause I knew it would keep up the energy. I then proceeded to teach the most basic form of West Coast Swing Dancing. It was fun to be the one teaching others who had no idea what was going on and everyone was a great sport about trying something different, even though it may not be super mainstream American.
After more dancing, it was around 2am when Diana came over to me and asked if I was ready to go. I said good bye to Zusel and wished her the best in Boston. I ended up getting home around 2:30am. Her friend drove us both home. On the way, he told me that at most parties, they actually do not dance as they were tonight. I didn’t have time to ask how they usually do dance, but I am really glad that I got the see all of the dancing they did tonight. I was in bed by 3am and up again four and a half hours later for my next adventure.
Although I have only spent a few hours with her in total, Zusel , has made a big impact on my exchange student experience. She saved me from the bus on my first day in Mexico and she introduced me to many of her friends so that I can have local connections while I am here in Querétaro. I am so thankful to have her and her sister as host sisters here. I am really looking forward to spending more time with Diana and new friends over the next few weeks.