Re: My little adventure

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From: novela-harmon@bethel.edu>
Date: Sat, Sep 23, 2017 at 8:45 AM
Subject: My little adventure   
To: grace-k-nelson@bethel.edu

We had a little time  to kill before dinner so Sierra turned in the TV. There was a bullfight  on, which we thought was interesting at first since we'd never seen one. But after they started stabbing these things into the bull that  looked like pool noodles that stuck out of him as he kept running  around, we turned it off. It will take a while to get that out of my  mind, but at least now I know better than to go to a real bullfight.

Sierra and Lexi are friends with Michael and Jenna, and they invited me to go out to dinner with them. Not having any better offers, I accepted. After that they decided to walk around and see the city a bit.  Then they saw a club they wanted to check out. They were all so excited to go to a club.  (Something new, alcohol!)

I wasn't really into it. But I wasn't tired and there was nothing else to do besides sitting in the hotel room watching novelas or bullfighting on TV (yuck!). And it was an extra chance to see the city, albeit not quite the part I was interested in. And after Lexi and Sierra took me shopping it seemed ungrateful not to use the outfit they helped me pick out specifically for this occasion. I told them I didn't like dancing with  strangers, and Lexi said Michael would dance with me. I said fine and  figured I'd go for a while but not necessarily dance.

We went back to the hotel to change. I figured I'd get the obligatory  social drink and then drink water after that. When we got there, I ordered a glass of red  wine since it's supposed to be good for you. But  then Michael ordered another round for everyone before I could say no. I  didn't want to be ungrateful so I tried to drink it slowly.  

I was kind of hoping for, and at the same time dreading, the possibility of dancing some of the styles we've learned. But my group seemed mostly  interested in drinking, and although it was marginally better than sitting in my room avoiding bullfighting on TV, it wasn't great.  Their lives and opinions are so different than mine. I feel like an  outsider, silent until I'm forced to offer some awkward opinion or  anecdote, and then left alone again once people hear me and decide I was  better off quiet. OK, I'm exaggerating; it wasn't that bad. But I was  definitely not in my element.

Then Lexi said, "Hey, it's Alex and Ruby!" They had apparently been  sitting at the bar. The place was crowded so it was impossible to tell  how long they'd been there. Kelsey spotted them dancing. They didn't see  us and went back to sit down. They were sitting close together and  seemed rather chummy. But then when I looked again (disengaged as I was  from the conversation), Alex was turned away from her and toward his  drink, and she looked either bored or mad. Then she started dancing with  another guy, and Alex stayed there. He was focused on his drink and it didn't appear he had noticed us.

I went to the bathroom and came back. Now everyone was dancing. The music had changed to more American-type club music, at least I think it was, and they were loving it. (It was one where they keep saying "Despacito"; I don't know if you've heard it.) Some Mexicans who didn't love the music - or maybe were just tired - had claimed our chairs.

I stood on the sidelines for a while. A couple guys stumbled by and gestured for me to dance with them. I don't know if it was because the music was so loud it was impossible to hear, or because they assumed I looked too gringa to speak Spanish (this happens often).

I decided I'd be better entertained at the hotel room watching novelas. I tried to catch Sierra's eye, but she was distracted. Then I tried to walk toward the group, but they were right in the middle and it was almost impossible to move in that direction.

Finally I gave up and decided to just head home. I figured as drunk as they were by now, they wouldn't notice if I was there or not, and their presence wouldn't necessarily make me safer. It wasn't that far to the hotel and it was well lit. I'd walk quickly and be back in no time. 

I started to regret my decision when I realized I'd miscalculated the distance. I was in that middle ground of having gone too far to turn back but still not reaching my destination. Then I heard footfalls behind me. I tried to ignore it at first, but the person was clearly gaining on me. Finally I looked back. It was Alex.

He caught up to me and asked, "What were you thinking?"

"What?" I asked, confused.

"Why did you leave by yourself, late at night? You know we advised you specifically against going out alone, especially at night. Something could happen to you."

"Yes," I said, remembering my near panic a moment before.  The street seemed peaceful but I found myself a bit on edge still.

He looked me, and his scowl lessened. He put his hand on my lower back and murmured, "For protection."

As we reached the hotel, he hesitated a moment, then turned away from it, applying light pressure on my back to move in same direction. I glanced at him, and he said, "I want you to be careful. Not terrified."

We walked to the city square, which is only a few blocks from the hotel. There were far fewer people than earlier in the day, but it was more active than the streets we'd come from. I still was leery of the darker corners and anyone who came near, but as we strolled around, taking in the effects of the nighttime lighting on the colonial constructions, I started breathing more deeply.

Alex didn't detach his hand from my back until we were back inside the hotel. It was around midnight. We ascended to the second floor, and Alex escorted me all the way to my room. He asked me once more if I was all right. I was feeling much better at this point, and told him so. He nodded. He didn't even shake my hand, just said, "Good night, Novela." Then, as I entered my room, "Lock your door." I did.

So that was my adventure for the night, and it was plenty for a while. I'll make sure to take more precautions the rest of the time I'm here.  But for now, all is well. 

Love, me

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