It was the Spring of 2000. I was a junior in high school. The year before, my school had hosted it's first ever exchange students. There were three of them: Dawei from China, Itsuka from Japan, and Luis from Mexico. Luis promised us when he left that we could all come visit him someday. Well, we made good on that promise, and our little group of high school students was on its way to Mexico for a fieldtrip.
I was psyched. A foreign country. I had been to Spain in the 8th grade, but i just had a feeling that Mexico was going to be amazing.
My BFF, Amanda Renee (it's french!) Parsons, and I were all set to room together, and she had a whole bag of Reece's Peanut Butter Balls in her ginormously large suitcase. What could be better than that? All the students had been divided up into groups and were staying with different members of Luis' family. His dad was an important government official (anybody remember exactly what his title was?) in their hometown, Hermosilla, and their family was pretty wealthy and had lots of space to host all of us.
Amanda and i were sent to stay with one of Luis' aunts and her niece. We were called over to our respective mode of transportation, "Ah-Mahn-dah and Melodeee!" We were on our way to some strangers house in Mexico with no adult supervision. Sweet! And our good friends "Joo-lie and Me-lee-sa" were staying next door. What luck!
Talk about a culture shock. We were two very well behaved Christian school girls who never did anything wrong (except for the occasional conference-leading-to-detention due to our bad attitudes towards the principal's grandson when he subbed as our Spanish teacher), and we were not prepared for what happened next. When we arrived at our home for the week, we walked through the courtyard and found a party waiting for us on the other side.
"You girls want some Tequila?"
I was speechless. I had never been offered an alcoholic beverage in my life, and i definitely wasn't expecting it then. Amanda answered for us,
"No thanks. We just had some milk." Milk? Was that the best she could come up with? I think she really did have some milk earlier now that i think about it, but i know i didn't. I hated milk. Anyway, after they laughed at us, they introduced themselves, and then we went inside to get situated.
I remember being scared to death that i might accidentally swallow one drop of water while brushing my teeth. I was told NOT TO DRINK THE WATER NO MATTER WHAT. YOU WILL GET SICK. AND DIE. A HORRIBLE DEATH. AFTER LOTS OF SUFFERING. But seriously, that's how i felt after the whole "don't drink the contaminated water" talk. I'm surprised i wasn't dehydrated due to all the spitting i did in Mexico while brushing my teeth. There was lots of spitting. I didn't even want one trace of contamination mixed in with my saliva. And the shower. That was tricky to. I made sure to never put my face in the water. No drops going anywhere near the mouth. I held my breath a lot just to be sure no water went in through my nose.
We spent a lot of time in the family room sitting around on the couches and the floor just goofing off. Luis' cousin, Gabi, was so much fun. So was her mom (can't remember her name??). One night, and i'm going to just throw this out there that sometimes high school girls can be unnecessarily silly (hard to believe, i know), we gathered around and translated a very serious song that is near and dear to my heart. It's called, Tirar un moco. If you speak Spanish, you'll know that it means, To Flick a Bugar. Deep, isn't it? I can't believe i'm doing this, but i am now going to share the lyrics with you. If you don't want to be my friend after reading this, then i'll pray for you to receive a sense of humor. Just Kidding :)
I picked a bugar from my nose and flicked it on the floor
I tied it up in knots and then went running out the door
Tirar un Moco!
Tirar un Moco!
You didn't know i had it in me, did you? I actually can't take full credit for the song. I didn't write most of it, but i still remember it to this day. I won't expose the author unless they would like to expose themselves.
Our good friends Michael and Kirt liked to make up songs too. The one i remember from that trip was the classic, Spear Fishing.
Good music like that is really hard to come by. I feel fortunate to have been a part of the Moco and Spear Fishing movement.
One day we were traveling somewhere in a big white van, the place i can no longer remember, but the drive i will never forget. Amanda, Michael, Kirt, and I all sat in the very back seat of the van. We spent that whole drive quoting segments from the John Boy and Billy Show. I didn't listen to the show, but Michael and Kirt knew every episode, and it was hilarious listening to them quote it. The line that sticks out the most in my memory is Michael in a very country voice, "Welcome to Revival at the Sword of Joshua, Pentecostal, Full Gospel, Church of God on Highway Eight on the frontage road!" (i may not have gotten that all right, but it's close!)
I also remember the principal eyeing my brand new adidas tennis shoes and mentioning that they were out of dresscode. I didn't realize i was supposed to wear my pilgrim shoes around the streets and hills of Mexico.
Then came the day we got to spend with our respective host families doing what they do. We lucked up and went to homecoming with Gabi at her high school.
We had no clue what was coming....