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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Columbian Christmas Eve

Last night was my Columbian Christmas Eve at Carlos and Petra’s house. Around 8:30 Vincente arrived to escort Maureen and I to Carlos’s House. We hopped on the 319 and went south and east of the res hall to Tooten Bec, then we were picked up in a very small car by a Basque Seperatist. No, I’m just kidding, but he was from the Basque Country in Spain. The 6 of us squeezed in, the three of us, Carlos, Mr. Basque, and Tristan “I went to Eton for one year and was in Will’s class.” Will being Prince William, or a lad named Will who happens to be the Prince. Anyway.

We got there and were some of the first people there. In the living room, the furniture was pushed up against the wall and the Salsa was already blasting from the computer–loaded with Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia, and other dance music. Within an hour, the party really got started with dancing and I was one of the first people on the dance floor. I couldn’t follow Carlos to save my life–I learned salsa from Cuban exiles in central Iowa. Dancing with a Columbian who is more at home doing the Boogaloo version of the Salsa didn’t mix well, but I managed to keep the beat okay and not look like a total asshole on the living room floor. Vincente was easier to dance with, he kept it simple. Eventually, the music was switched to Merengue. If you can walk, you can merengue and I can merengue.

Between dances I sampled empanadas and fried sausage balls–delicious. Nothing like batter fried sausage balls, with veggies in the mix as well. I had some other fried fruits, which turned out not to be plantaines, so I don’t know what I ate–but it was all good. I even went back for a second fried sausage ball. I would also go onto the back patio to cool off and talk to the British Kids–4 guys and one girl–aged 19-21. It was like being in a Monty Python skit, amusing at first–but eventually quite wearing on my nerves.

Eventually, I earned the honor (?) of teaching a 21 year old Brit boy how to salsa and merengue. We had a good laugh and he was an okay dancer, but I never quite caught his name–Carl, maybe, or Clark? He was at least nicer to be around than “I went to Eton for one year and was in Will’s class.” Nineteen years old with a full beard and a complete understanding of all the subtleties and inner workings of life. He was quite convinced that apart from sexual organs and mental conditioning from the news media–Men and Women are inherently the same, merely all human beings. I quietly disagreed. Carl asked my advice/opinion about what to do with a rowdy girlfriend that he wanted to have chill out, so they could connect. I told him to give her five years to grow up. I kind of think he was talking about Jack’s girlfriend Nat who was there, but can’t be sure. Because Jack quickly exited the conversation to find Nat.

At midnight, I was in the living room. Since it was officially christmas, it was time to do presents. Carlos and Petra apologized that there were no presents for Maureen and I, but we did not mind. I told them the present was inviting us to their house and feeding us and welcoming us into the party. With such a big family, they did the time honored tradition of “Secreto Amigos” or Secret Santas. Everyone was given their presents and paraded around in new bathrobes and winter jackets. Nat received a mountain of presents and opened them wide eyed–like a starving child at her first christmas. It didn’t quite fit with the picture, she was the daughter of the Basque man who seemd to be married to one of the Columbian sisters. She had short red dredlocks and shouted with a british accent and then easily slipped into spanish–she was an actress.

Anyway, I flipped back and forth between the steamy living room and the chilly garden. Trying to find a comfortable temperature, get enough dancing in and keep my plate and glass filled. By the time 4AM rolled around, I was too hot and too well-fed to much use. We asked for help with a mini-cab and our hosts thought we’d not enjoyed ourselves. I’d had one of my best nights in London, but it was nearly 4:30AM. Everyone else would dance until dawn and leave with the sun for breakfast and church. We were certainly the party poopers, leaving at 4:30 in the morning.

Our Jamaican cab driver returned us to Chelsea and it was time for bed. I crashed on the couch and watched some station identifications before I went to sleep to dream of sugarplums and fried sausage balls–my new favorite Christmas food.

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