DING – my Uber arrived outside. Quietly, I tiptoed toward the door of my host family’s house. Lucky for me, on the other side of that door, freedom and my first trip to Tlaxcala waited patiently. My large suitcase bumped into every wall as it passed behind me. And despite my best efforts, my pink panther-styled escape turned out as useless as trying to sleuth in stilettos. Abruptly my host mother’s voice barreled down the stairs.
“¿A dónde vas, Rosa?”
Which means, “Where are you going?” But if you carry over the tone and add in the fact that my study abroad program suggested that we don’t travel alone, it really means, “Where do you think you’re going, missy?”
Defeated, I parked my suitcase in front of the stairs. Meanwhile, I watched my Uber’s wait time loom on my lit-up phone. After filling my diaphragm with confidence, I translated “I’m going to Tlaxcala” one more time in my head for safety, and yelled up.
“Voy a Tlaxcala!”
DING DING – the ridesharing app alerted me that Javier would leave in one minute if I didn’t skedaddle quick. With haste, I yanked my suitcase closer to the front door. In a moment, just before I could pull it open, I heard my mother yell.
“Who are you going with?”
As a result of the shock, I almost dropped my plans completely. Do you mean to tell me that you knew I was asking for the Wifi password the whole time?! Collecting myself, I recommitted to taking the trip. This was my first trip sola.
“I’m going alone but I’ll be safe – promise” I sang back, closing the heavy metal door behind me.
Finally free! The bright sunlight reflected off of a silver Volkswagen parked in front. Once I checked that the plates on the app matched the ones on the car – I jumped in.
After the 5-minute Uber drive and hour-long bus trip, I arrived in Tlaxcala City, Tlaxcala. The streets laid adorned with cobblestone streets and an abundance of Pulque bars sat on every corner. Exhausted already, I decided to get situated in my AirBnB first. As I arrived, Jose and Raul met me in front of a newly opened restaurant – a perk that I had not expected. They graciously showed me up to my room which sat above a long spiraling staircase behind a curtain, not a door.
“Where’s the door?” I asked nervously.
Jose explained that the door hadn’t been installed yet. WHAT? He said that I shouldn’t worry, though, because no one would come up without permission. And to be fair, with a solid five-star rating on AirBnB, I had no reason to doubt them. They invited me to sit with them for a spell. Raul set up a beautiful table at the restaurant and they took turns chatting with me in between serving other tables. I had such a good time just sitting in this chaotic warm environment, one that overflowed glasses of vino and herb-infused air. The whole restaurant glowed with beautiful sunshine orange walls that felt more and more like a sunset as the night aged. I found myself yawning and dreaming about sleep.
I walked up to my room and flopped on the bed – kicking off my shoes and watching them fly across the room. Then I heard someone yelling from the bottom of the staircase.
Like a Disney princess, I peeked my head out down from my tall tower. Jose stood at the bottom of the stairs giggling.
“¡Vámonos de fiesta, Rosa!” Which means, “Let’s go party, Rosa!”
How could I refuse? It was one of my only chances to have a night on the town. I should also mention that Jose could challenge a pickled serrano to see who’s hotter. So, of course, I gathered my things and reported downstairs for the festivities. Surprisingly, there was already a running car waited outside, filled to the brim with people. Everyone was lapped up and seatbeltless, so I slid onto Jose’s lap and we were off.
After safely making it to a local tequila bar, we stationed ourselves in a cozy corner booth and the shots poured. To my surprise, I found out that my comrades represented a real swath of the community – a famous chef in the region, a grandmother, her daughter, an artist, and several other of Jose’s friends. After a few shots, I found out that Jose was not just gay, but “very gay.” Apparently, my subtle attempts at flirtation were “cute” but ultimately unsuccessful. I shook it off. Without delay, we sang our hearts out in karaoke and danced the bachata until our legs hurt. After our heads spun from the dancing, we left the car and walked back to the restaurant.
Jose opened the restaurant letting all of his friends in and the party had more energy than ever. Suddenly, the orange sunset walls were illuminated with the sunrise. Consequently, I decided to go to bed – for real this time. I kissed everyone goodbye and thanked them for a wonderful night. I hastily walked up the spiral staircase, took off all my clothes, and fell asleep so quickly that I forgot to even close the curtain.
Unfortunately, the sun woke me up a few hours later. After downing a Tylenol, I prepared myself for a far more productive day in the town. Thankfully, the restaurant hadn’t opened yet. In spite of this, I heard Jose and Raul chatting downstairs. Even though I didn’t intend to eavesdrop, I heard my name, not being said, but sang. Were they calling me? Ultimately, I decided to walk down the stairs. I realized that Jose was telling Raul about last night. Apparently, he had come to check on me upstairs since I was pretty borracha (drunk). Instantly, he saw me: Face planted naked on the bed. He told Raul that he left but felt bad that he walked in. Interrupting, I coughed at the entrance to the kitchen.
“Buenos días” I chirped. Immediately Jose’s face dropped as he realized I heard his tale.
“I’m very gay,” he clarified laughing.
After a quick cup of coffee and some more laughs about the night, Jose offered to show me around the town. Straightaway, we left and spent the day visiting the stadium, museums, and shopping at the market.
All in all, my first solo trip to Tlaxcala ended up being one of my favorite experiences. Despite Jose reminding me that he was “very gay” far too many times during our final outing, we did become closer friends for it–even to this day.