By Erick Uribe
As a Peace Corps Volunteer, I’m well aware that the organization’s third goal encourages us to promote a better understanding of Colombians on the part of Americans. If I’m being real with you, I’ll admit that this goal was nowhere on my radar as I touched down in Los Angeles last December. Instead, thoughts of Double-Doubles, breakfast burritos, spicy pork ramen and spooning occupied the most prominent priorities in my mind.
Initially overwhelmed by the barrage of questions that forced me to sum up the last sixteen months, I resolved to momentarily forget about the third goal, opting instead to immerse myself in all things California. Knowing that my Colombian proclivities would materialize in due time, I allowed myself to talk freeways, the Lakers, and newborns for a full week.
As the holidays came to a close, my opportunity to go full Colombian presented itself in the form of a dinner party that I planned to host for some of my closest friends. Motivated by the rainy weather, I spent about an hour watching Youtube videos of people cooking ajiaco, whose hearty ingredients would carry the load as the dinner’s main dish.
While the soup simmered, a bottle of Antioqueño chilled in the freezer and some champeta classica resonated throughout Stephanie’s apartment. Conditioned to expect tardiness, I was surprised to see my friends arrive at the previously agreed upon time. With that, it was time to eat.
We went straight to the ajiaco, which was universally praised after being garnished with avocado, cilantro, lemon, and crema de leche. As everybody went for seconds, I pulled out the bottle of Antioqueño and proceeded to distribute the typical Costeño quarter-shots in a circular fashion. Both the size of the shot and the tang of the Antioqueño were initially questioned, but thankfully, my friends aren’t the type to turn down free liquor.
Unfortunately, even El Sayayin’s “Paula” couldn’t convert my friends into champeta classica fans. Instead of being discouraged, I put my trust in the Antioqueño and quietly planned my next move. Momentarily relinquishing control of the Spotify account, I let the sounds of J. Cole distract the group as quarter-shot after quarter-shot slowly weakened their defense to my beloved champeta.
Abandoning hope for the old-school sounds, I put all of my hope into Mr. Black and my friends’ inclination for gimmicky dances based on one to two dorky moves. It was time for El Serrucho.
As expected, Mr. Black was a hit, so we spent the rest of the night trying to perfect the only somewhat suggestive sawing and thrusting combo. Although it’s clearly inaccurate to suggest that an entire culture might be represented with a soup, a bottle of liquor, and a catchy chorus, being able to share some of my favorite parts of Colombia with friends in the United States let me feel that my responsibility to Peace Corps’ third goal had been momentarily satisfied.