Hat trickWhen I traveled to Colombia a few months ago, I immediately faced a harsh reality: Colombians love to party. And the party never ends.

On the bus to Medellin, Colombia, I met a friendly Colombian man who invited me to stay with him and his girlfriend at his friend’s beautiful apartment.  The Colombian motto is “my house AND the houses of my friends and family are your house.”

Wonderful! I was delighted to have found a place to stay and friendly people with whom to explore the city.  Then reality set in.

After an extremely tumultuous and wet speedboat ride followed by an eight-hour bus ride, I arrived in Medellin feeling like (and resembling) a drowned rat.

Drowned rat

 Juan Pablo, the man I’d met on the bus, had endured the same journey, but appeared unaffected.  We met Paula, his vivacious younger girlfriend, at the bus station.  Then we took a taxi to his friend’s house.  Upon arriving, his friend, Julio, greeted us warmly with hugs and cheek-kisses.  Then, without missing a beat, he cranked up the electronic music and offered us a drink.  It was after midnight, but for my new friends, the night had just begun.

The only thing I wanted to do was take a long, hot shower and go to bed, but that fantasy was quickly squashed by the oncoming party.  I watched in fascination and horror as Juan Pablo pulled bottle after bottle out of his duffle bag.  It was like a magician’s hat trick with wine and bourbon replacing fluffy white bunnies.

Hat trick

How had he fit so many bottles into the bag? And how did he manage to lift it? It didn’t matter.  Those seemingly infinite bottles of alcohol wouldn’t survive past the weekend.

Welcome to Colombia.

I was still reeling from the long journey, but I didn’t want to offend my new friends.  I had only just met them, but they already treated me like family.  I will forever be in awe of their warmth and generosity.  I will also be eternally amazed by their ability to party into the wee hours of the morning night after night … after night.

My introvert energy meter was registering dangerously low, about to self-destruct levels, but I felt obligated to socialize.  Like most introverts, I’m horrible at faking enthusiasm, and worse still at hiding discontentment.  I’m certain my new friends were perplexed (and maybe a little appalled) by my nauseated expression and refusal to drink.  At that point, a damp, listless blob of uptight Canadian girl was the best I could offer.  My stomach couldn’t handle the booze.  I couldn’t stomach the small talk.

I had to get out of there.

After about an hour and a half, I made a break for it.  I managed to take a shower without any problems, but on the way to my room, Paula confronted me. She began to call up to me from the bottom floor. “Micha, why you go?” she asked. “Micha, come down!”

Never ending party 3

While my enthusiasm completely diminished, hers gained momentum.  I looked at her.  She looked at me.  I said I was tired, but she wasn’t satisfied.  The stare-down continued.  Staredown

“Micha, you must come down!” she persisted.

If I’d had more energy, I might have crumbled beneath the pressure, but I was running on empty.  My bed was calling to me sweetly, inviting me to bask in its comforting embrace.

Bedtime fantasy

With renewed determination, I shook my head and said “no” to Paula.  She finally backed down and everyone continued to enjoy the party.  Everyone except me, of course.

I looked upon my bed as if it were a mirage.  I couldn’t wait to be swaddled in its cottony caress.  Peaceful slumber was now within my grasp.

I had managed to escape the first night without too many battle scars, but the weekend wasn’t over yet.    As the electronic music continued to pulse and neighbors drunkenly sang at the top of their lungs, I realized that the prospect of peaceful slumber really had been a mirage.

It was going to be a long night.  And the party was just getting started.

To be continued …