By Glenda Ortega

Even though I consider myself a social drinker, it seems my check is always the highest when I join friends and colleagues at bars. It doesn’t mean I am a heavy drinker. It’s just that I don’t like beer. Unfortunately, drinking wine or cocktails is more expensive than drinking beer. No matter which country.

That is especially true in a college town where campus-area bars have frequent specials for beer drinkers, but rarely for wine and cocktails.  In my opinion, drinking is fine. I don’t drink to get drunk. I enjoy dancing, drinking and talking with friends.   

 I have heard some Americans love drinking. At home, people like it as well – especially on weekends.

 In Columbia, I noticed that some people don’t drink only on weekends. During my stay here, I  met people who can drink six days a week. They tell me it’s not an alcohol dependency: “It just go to the bar and have fun. There’s not many things to do” seems to be a typical answer when I find this surprising.

 But is it an answer? “Could people drink two bourbons five days a week just to have fun?,” I thought.  

 After that conversation, many ‘coincidences’ happened to me. Last Monday, a popular bar/restaurant called Ragtag was very busy. It’s Monday, I thought. Two days later, I went to a supermarket and I could see a really huge liquor store inside it. I had never seen so many different kinds of beers before.  The prices seamed very cheap, too. For example, people could get a bottle of Jack Daniels for only $ 20. There were also many other whiskey brands that sell for for lower prices.

 And finally, I saw an article about “Drunkorexia” on the front cover in a local magazine. It said some young college students in Columbia don’t eat so that they can spend less in order to drink more alcohol.  Then, I decided to write about drinking.  My journalistic instincts told me my next step should be asking other Columbia residents, including other foreigners.

 I have talked with friends and colleagues about it.  One of my friends said it happens in small cities where people say they “don’t have many things to do.”  

 Now suddenly, I realized Columbia and Cuenca, the third most important city in Ecuador, have things in common.  Like Cuenca, Columbia has a big population of young people, alcohol is cheap and people say there’s not many things to do.  And one thing is certain about both of those two cities: People like to drink.

 Some foreign friends in Columbia agreed with me. “Here, people really like drinking. It’s part of their culture,” they said. I realized it was not only my perception.  Yet, U.S citizens that live in Columbia say they haven’t noticed some Americans drink a lot.  “I have never been outside U.S.,” was the answer of one of the guys I asked, who thought the area’s drinking habits were ordinary.  

 At that moment, I remembered Brazilians love their beer, Argentinians love their wine, Mexicans love tequila.  Some people in those countries, too, can drink every single day.

 Still, I think drinking large quantities of alcohol is not healthy. Finding  more things to do could be better than drinking too much.  For me, drinking in moderation is more fun and healthier.