Tequila Shots in the Dominican: A Coming-of-Age Tale

In the June of 2009 my friends and I were to be released from the confines of high school through the magical process of ‘graduation’. It being our final year in public school we decided to go on a grad trip.

The Destination

The plan was to fly hundreds of teenagers across Canada to a country that bordered the world’s poorest nation, Haiti. Obviously, organizers thought a chance to experience the third-world would give kids a chance to expand their educational horizons. Not to mention the opportunity to talk about plans for college, careers and the future with hundreds of peers in a safe and friendly environment.

Just kidding—the event was actually Mardi Gras: Underage and Afraid Edition.

We’d spend a week in a resort where the drinking age was 18. Luckily for everyone involved, the only identification necessary was a verbal promise you were of legal age to the liaison handing out bracelets.

Blue for no alcohol, purple for too much alcohol.

Convincing My Parents

I’d been working at Home Depot in the months leading up to the trip. Having no bills to pay—beyond the occasional Xbox game—I’d saved a few grand. My buddies REALLY wanted to go on this trip and warned that failure to attend would equal a lifetime of regret. I wasn’t much of a partier—being an unconfident introvert with braces and acne—but I agreed that leaving the continent to hang out with hundreds of girls (REAL GIRLS) my age would be worth it.

Mom and dad weren’t on board at first. Even though I’d offered to pay and had finished all the necessary paperwork, they still needed some convincing.

What kind of selfish parents wouldn’t let their underage son embark on an alcohol-soaked binge with his similarly immature friends?

Eventually, a couple buddies had our parents meet to discuss the operation. I guess everything checked out, because I was due stateside in Punta Cana in a month’s time.

The Flight

Like so many other people on this rock hurling through space, I get mad anxiety before big events. Not only was I about to be surrounded by a horde of people I desperately wanted to impress for the next week, I was going to be stuck on a pressurized tube flying through the sky with them for about five hours.

With a little Ativan and some more Gravol, I made it—but not without a few visits to the washroom first.

The First Day

At this point in my life, my relationship with alcohol was much like Lindsay Lohan’s relationship with her father: suspicious. I was a chronic hurler with a weak stomach and suffocating need to impress my friends.

So, with a deranged man in a bunny suit (picture below) and some high school friends we tested the waters of free alcohol. frank

I’m Invincible

We awoke the way only kids in their late teens can after a night drinking: with high spirits and no hangovers.

After gorging on some free breakfast, a nice beach and some afternoon cocktails…I figured island time meant heavy drinking at 3pm.

I approached the bar and ordered a tequila shot. After a few minutes the look of disgust on my face evaporated and was replaced with a numb smile.

So, I ordered two more shots. Then three. Then three more.

And three more.

I’d probably consumed my doctor-recommended daily intake of Vitamin C with all that lime. Not to mention the crazy amount of salt that entered my blood stream.

But, I’d have to say what happened next was mainly due to the alcohol poisoning.

Being 17

After my umpteenth shot a couple of British chaps called me over to play a drinking game called DarkStar. They loosely explained the rules to me and, before I knew it, I was chugging a full beer.

That’s when I upchucked.

All over myself.

Needing my room keys to begin the recovery process I stumbled over to a group of roughly fifteen classmates.

“Hey, sie needz ta kays.”

Smelling like vomit and looking like sh*t, I strolled away from the chorus of “oohs” toward my room.

Finding Said Room

Needless to say my trip to a comfy bed didn’t go as planned.

I walked up to my door and inserted my card. It didn’t open.

So, like any teen in the midst of a humiliating puking episode I passed out for fifteen minutes on the doormat.

Turns out this room was numbered 1478 and was situated in the exact same spot as my actual room in an adjacent building.

My room was only made accessible to me by a sober and caring volunteer who noticed my mistake: that 1478 and 1487 are two different numbers.


Over the course of my sickness a few events occurred:

  • Room service took TWO HOURS to deliver a bottle of water.
  • I was reminded—through trial and error—the tap water wasn’t for drinking.
  • After taking a Gravol I hallucinated that two old-timey Englishmen in top hats were having a telephone conversation on either side of the room.
  • My roommate fooled around with a girl in the bathroom while I pretended to be in deep sleep.
  • They eventually moved to the bed beside me.

Rest of the Trip

I fully recovered only after landing home on Canadian soil.

Know that I DON’T REGRET the trip. It was fun, and any experience is good experience. I would recommend grad trips abroad for kids who aren’t prone to being dumb-asses…which I was.

Don’t worry, I plan on pacing myself at the next open bar I see.

(Insert witty and equally thought-provoking title here)

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