Being book smart may bring a certain level of knowledge to your career, but traveling is the book that gets you the job. Different countries become your classroom, and sign language often creeps in as your greatest resource of communication. Soon you discover things about yourself you never knew existed.
My first trip outside the States was my biggest learning curve to date. I remember listening to “Float On” by Modest Mouse while packing my bags. “I’m never coming back,” I exclaimed to my roommate. Although, New York would eventually have its way with me and lure me back to the concrete jungle, I was convinced this new adventure would capture me for eternity.
When I arrived where 50 shades of turquoise kisses the desert’s shore, I knew I would leave a piece of my heart in Cabo forever. The culture in this part of Mexico is so warm and inviting, it’s impossible to leave with a bad impression.
My first night working at a local nightclub was New Year’s Eve. After the night was over, one of my co-workers approached me and asked if I wanted to join the rest of the team for some tequila and the sunrise. The cocky waitress in me couldn’t wait to show these new local friends how a gringa could down a copious amount of tequila in one sitting.
“I’ll have Patron Silver, chilled with a lime and salt,” I said to the waiter in Spanish. Simultaneously, seven Mexicans jerked their heads and stopped the waiter from taking my order. That was the day I learned drinking Patron Silver, chilled with a lime and salt was equivalent to putting ice in a nice glass of champagne (which I am also guilty of).
Learning how to take warm shots of reposado with a straight face and without garnishes was just the beginning of my journey. I also learned there was never a bad time of day to eat tacos, and just about any part of the animal is fair game for its fillings (i.e. eyes, tongue and some other fun surprises), but most importantly I learned a greeting I will carry with me for a lifetime - “In Lak’ech Ala k’in.” For those of us who are not from Mayan decent this greeting means, “I am you, you are me,” basically insisting we are all the same – a lesson the whole world could learn form.