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Chapter 1

The scene smelled of incense. The air was light, as the entire right side of the apartment was made of floor to ceiling windows. I had just arrived to my Spanish home. There was a quiet humming of music that echoed from all corners of the house and I noticed both a Mary and a Buddha on the mantle piece. My host mom, age 45 with wickedly beautiful red curls and a body Barbie would dream of, led me to the room I would inhabit for the next four months. I smiled when I saw it. Everything down to the full length windows and white duvet bed cover said “European.” I set to unpacking my things, glad to have a room of my own after travelling for what seemed like forever. I heard a “clink” in my suitcase and remembered the presents I’d brought for my host family. I dug out the (quite nice) Kentucky Bourbon bottle along with some of my favorite candy gummies. I made my way to the living room, thinking I had a good ice-breaker and presented the gifts to my host mom. She took the bottle of bourbon in her hand and with barely a glance, let out an explosive cackle. Having believed the stereotype that all Spaniards like to drink and hearing that bourbon was particularly expensive in Spain, I waited for her to say she had the same exact kind (or something along those lines). Instead, she laughed some more (while I stood awkwardly watching) and said, “Morgan, I don’t drink.” More laughing. I winced and forced a smile and said, “Well maybe you’d like these then. They’re my favorite snack from the U.S.” I held out the dollar bag of orange slice candy. She started laughing, again. “What?” I asked, a little irritated. “”These are called gomelas. I don’t eat sugar, but I’ll put them both over here for decoration.” Then she ran to tell Mora, our other housemate of the gifts I’d brought. Both of them laughed. There was many a night I almost cracked both the bottle and the candy bag open due to the complete lack of sugar and processed food in her house, but since they were gifts, in the cabinet they stayed and for the next four months I learned what it means to be healthy in every capacity of life…from the perspective of my new friends, Sal and Mora. To be continued…

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