Hatchet Expat: Taking a bite out of new experiences

In Spain, the orange is king.

You can find juicers that turn out gallons of the freshly squeezed nectar in every bar and restaurant. All of Spain’s naranjas are first-rate, and a glass of their juice is so sweet and refreshing here that it bears hardly any resemblance to Tropicana.

That’s why I have been dying to try an orange straight off the tree.

They always tempted and evaded me. From my hostel window in Córdoba, I saw them just out of reach, hanging on a tall, solitary tree. In Toledo, they were in the courtyards of cloisters and cathedrals, surrounded by locked gates. Shaking the gates of Eden in disappointment, I pictured monks indulging late at night and juicing countless oranges without restraint.

When I arrived at Seville, the orange tree-lined streets taunted me with lingering desire. My friend warned me of the possible use of pesticides but health problems would not keep me from my dream.

It was time for my fruit obsession to come to fruition. Standing on a stone wall, I reached for an orange with flawless flesh. I felt its moist pores, pulled it gently off the branch and peeled it with my hands. Juice ran down my arms as I took a bite.

A foul taste of victory lingered in my puckered mouth.

And just like my alas-it-turned-out-to-be bitter orange, I’ve learned while studying abroad that there are a multitude of things you will try, some of which frankly might suck.

Without knowing much about an opera I attended at the Teatro Real, I found myself watching naked men unsuccessfully attempting to climb on women in front of a massive chorus whose members all threw their shoes offstage. This was all, of course, paired with the music of composers Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi.

In Toledo, I convinced my friend to climb over a small barrier on a cliff to walk over to a rock formation. With little traction, we carefully stepped down the side of the hill, slipping slightly on the powdery dirt. I placed my backpack down to gaze at one of the more breathtaking views of the trip.

That’s when my backpack started sliding down the rock face. Luckily, I retrieved my belongings after a tiring struggle.

But no matter what opportunities come your way, embrace them without hesitation. There is a chance they might disappoint, but that’s part of what makes new experiences an adventure.

So if you see someone attempting to snag a bitter orange off a tree in Seville, don’t intervene. You’ll rob them of a memory and yourself of an amusing picture of their face.

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