Building off the last blog post and my favorite Ernest Hemingway drinking quote " You don't go to government buildings or churches to understand a cities culture you must go to their bar." This reminds me of the incredible power of a well crafted Alcohol to unite travelers and locals alike.
My first big trip to South America was to Peru with a group of friends from Detroit. When traveling I typically like to spend a couple of days solo, so I book my flights to arrive a couple of days before and after if I can spare the time. On this particular trip I arrived to Lima a couple days before my friends arrived. My flight landed around midnight and the taxi drove me straight to the Loki Hostel in Miraflores, Lima. By the time I arrived the hostel just finished throwing a party for one of the bar tenders birthday. Turns out, I just missed all the action cause it looked like a bomb went off inside. Passed out bodies laying along the floor and walls, for some reason it looked like someone set off a fire extinguisher. Either way, I missed the party but I was tired and jet lagged so I set off to bed. The next morning I am the new guy in the hostel and dont know anybody. I am eager to make friends and start a convo but it seems to early to bother anyone. I order my breakfast and enjoy it slowly as people start to trickle in to the bar/breakfast area. I finally see my savior, a definite convo starter, A dusty bottle of Fernet Branca on the far end of the back bar. If I order that with breakfast then I am less of an alcoholic and more slightly more sophisticated, instead of ordering a shot of tequila then that just screams alcoholic. The bar keep pours me a shot and is blown away that some white American knows what Fernet Branca is. He then sticks out his hand for an introduction and comments on how much he loves the spirit himself, the people sitting near me also comment on how cool that is and within 5 minutes I am the center of attention at breakfast and made 5 new friends and plenty of recommendations of stuff to do for the day.
That small interaction made me appreciate not just the potency or the taste of a bottle of booze but the culture and the connection that is held inside. A lot of us have forgotten the importance of a well crafted spirit. We've taken for granted how special a buzz from alcohol is and how it is supposed to lower our "walls" that we put up so we bond with the people around us.
Cheers to Fernet Branca
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