Monday, April 30, 2007

In Search of the Soda Gods

It was a pretty risky thing to do. I might be brash, but in the end I like to be as politically correct as possible. But all the indicators told me my best estimates would prove me correct. The group of people sitting there were of a darker complexion. Many Chileans, with their blonde hair, ghostly skin, and blue eyes, are anything but that Andean culture with darker skin and darker hair. They were sitting alongside the chapel, a common hang out for them I have been told many of times. And, a few Chileans walked by, dishing almost unnoticeable glances of disgust at them, and that all but firmed up what I already knew to be true.

“Are you Peruvian?” I asked the group. Their hurried conversation came to a stop; they starred at me blankly for a moment, and hesitantly answered, yes. I don’t blame them for eying me suspiciously, reluctantly admitting their nationality. They are often poor in Santiago, working to feed a family back home, and treated by Chileans, the same way so many Latin American immigrants are treated by “US Citizens” back in the United States.

I suppose when I smiled and said “thank God!” they lightened up a little. When I told them I was dying for a Pisco Sour, a real one, like the ones from Peru, I sealed the deal and we were laughing together. The Pisco Sour, a traditional drink of Chile and Peru, is fought over amongst the two cultures as to who claims the original ownership of it. It’s a good way to win a Chilean or Peruvian over, or permanently frost relationships with them, depending on how you structure your comments about the drink. But anyway…

After a little bit of small talk, I explained I had a Peruvian friend back in the United States that got me hooked on something they might be able to help with. They were all ears. I explained my absolute obsession with the Inca Kola, a yellow cola, the Cola of the Gods! At this everyone laughed and when one man said, “who would have ever guessed a gringo in Chile in search of the Cola of the Gods” they all roared. Eventually laughter subsided and directions were given. It was an import, and so it is pretty expensive by cola standards, but fortunately, I was talking to experts. A left turn here, a right turn over there, there will be a building that looks like a galleria, turn into it. Walk five floors up the circular corridor and look for the nondescript restaurant without a name. There will be a bunch of Peruvians eating away, and it is there, the cola of my dreams will be.

I felt like a detective acting on a hot lead and it made sound cheesy, but I felt the sweet joy of victory when I walked out of this hole in the wall restaurant, the Peruvians looking at me somewhat oddly but also giving me that acknowledging smile. One man as I left smiled particularly big, and I as I was turning the corner, he shouted “Oye, amigo!” I turned around to look at this man with his own bottle of Inca Cola raised up high. “Salud.”

It’s the little victories that make the biggest differences anymore. When I opened the bottle of cola that night I must have made my roommates a little uncomfortable. I felt like I was in that Herbal Essences commercial, because I just kept taking sip after sip of my soda, going “ohhh my God, yeah!” “Ohhhhhh.” “Jeez this is sweeeeet!” I even started to address it as though it was a person. “My God I have missed you!” I’d like to think after my roommates had a taste, they understood, but then again, no one else seemed to react like I did, so who knows. Either way, besame el culo Coca Cola, I got Inca Kola!

1 comment:

Claudia said...

You have the two best drinks ever invented right at your doorstep. i am soooo jealous! I sympathize with your obsession. I hope you're well!