After four months of dating, I was finally invited to see the hometown of my girlfriend. It was about 8 hours away, located in a beautiful area of Colombia. All this sounded great, except for the fact that I was to meet her grandfather… the grandfather who hates all gringos.
In our first week of dating a few months back, Ana was telling me about her family. In that conversation, she was telling me how her grandfather has never liked gringos. Also, at this time, she thought I was pretty damn lame and I probably would not make it another week with her, let alone meet her family. She denies that she said this, but I remember it quite vividly. As soon as I received the invitation, I began to scheme on how to win the gringo hater over. It then dawned on me… get him drunk.
If you think about it, it’s not exactly rocket science. When people are drunk, they tend to be happy. But considering he was a little on the older side, I wasn’t quite sure if he would be up for running body shots off of yours truly… me. Instead, I settled on a nice bottle of wine from Spain. I then did a little research about it, so I could sound intelligent when I gave it to him. I’m not exactly sure if that part would work… but hey, it was worth a try.
Ana left a day before me, and I stayed behind because of work. After teaching a few classes, I headed off Thursday morning to Pensilvania Caldas. The bus was empty, so I was fortunate enough to have a few seats to myself. The bus drivers took a liking to me, and instantly I had some friends. At our lunch breaks, they insisted that I sit with them, and we pulled into small towns, they always provided recommendations on where to get a quick snack. As we pulled into a small town towards the end of our trip, I was introduced to their families, friends, girlfriends, and everyone else in between.
The more entertaining part was the introduction to a group of young girls, around the age of 18. Upon meeting them, I truly felt violated as they checked me out, from head to toe. Actually, it wasn’t offending at all… more or less flattering. When asking why I was going to Pensilvania, I told them that I was on the way to meet my girlfriend’s family. As soon as they heard the word “girlfriend,” their eyes showed disappointment. I felt bad, and then went on to explain that taking three girls for my wives was just not going to work for me. The tears came, and luckily enough, I was saved by the bus leaving.
With an hour left, the drivers insisted that I sit up in the front with them. When I politely declined, they would not hear of it and threw my bag in the front seat. For the last hour, the dark night was filled with stories and inappropriate jokes. The driver often asked me how close he should get to the edge of the cliff. After crapping my pants a few times, he finally calmed down and began to drive in a safe matter (safe for Colombia that is). We finally arrived at our destination, and I went to the back of the bus to grab the rest my bags.
The driver jumped off and yelled “Who has the gringo boyfriend?!?!?!”
Ana shyly raised her hand, and the driver responded by saying “That gringo is alright.” I couldn’t have been laughing harder.
Considering the entire town of Pensilvania could be crossed in four minutes, we didn’t have a long walk to her grandparent’s house. At this time, the house probably had about 15 people staying in it (all family), and also, they were all aware of a dumb gringo coming to visit (me). Without even making it in the front door, I had some people greeting me and offering me pizza from one of the many family businesses. I politely declined because Ana wanted me to meet the grandfather instantly.
When I met him, I could just see him glaring at me. He didn’t say it… but I knew he was thinking, “Who the hell do you think you are?” Immediately, I busted out the wine. I didn’t sense of excitement when they saw it, but as soon as the tried the wine, they were satisfied. I then recited my speech I had prepared about the wine and how 2008 was a great year for that vineyard. All of it was bullshit, but hey, they were impressed.
Our night was off to a great start, thus, I knew a great weekend was sure to follow. Ana dragged me around the town and giving introductions to people from her childhood. I met her friends (which provided nights of endless drinking), teachers (who all informed me that she truly was a horrible student), family members (extended family in the thousands), and anyone else who she might have had a relationship with in the past.
In the end, I would call the trip a success. The grandparents loved me, and insisted that I return in the near future. I met some great people, made friends with the bartenders, ate some great food, and of course, had an amazing time with Ana and her family.
So, what is the lesson of the story? When you need to impress someone… get him or her drunk.