It’s just true that Fanta always tastes better en vidrio – in glass. I don’t drink soda in the States anymore. Bolivia ruined Fanta for me. It was the perfect thing to go with a salteña on a warm day, 12,000 feet closer to the sun than at my sea-level home in Virginia.
The best Fanta that I had during my ten-month stint in Bolivia was in a hidden place that was only accessible by a dirt road and a bus that was too big for that dirt road. Coroico is a tiny town tucked away in the lush mountains in Los Yungas, about three hours outside of La Paz. I was crammed in the back of the minibus with my cousin and dad. My uncle (whose Spanish is by far the least proficient) had somehow talked his way to the front seat, much to the bus driver’s chagrin. Por suerte we made it to our hostel. We were the only guests. Or maybe we weren’t – but it was Carnaval and any partying guests who were also staying there didn’t make it back for the night.
The only way to celebrate surviving such a bus ride was of course with Fanta en vidrio.
I don’t know if it’s the taste, the coldness and crispness of liquid orange, the pure sugar (not fake sugar like they use in the States). But I think it may have to do more with the memory, the nostalgia at drinking such a wonderfully simple drink in simply wonderful places. And with wonderful people.
This particular night my dad, uncle, cousin and I were watching the dusk settle on the partying town below us when this girl who worked at the hostel approached our table. She was in her twenties and could have been me in another life. As we sat outside tucked away in our little corner of the mountains, she brought us our pizza. After starting a conversation with us, we invited her to sit down. As the night grew darker, so did her story as she told us how she had been assaulted by her boyfriend, thrown off a balcony and had barely survived. She sipped her Fanta as she opened up to us – strangers – only taking breaks to wipe her tears or allow me translate phrases my uncle couldn’t understand.
In a beautifully broken town, she had grown and loved and been terribly, terribly hurt. She had quite literally been tossed but had not shattered.
She was not made of vidrio.