The Last Time I Drank Sangría

A velvet evening in rural La Mancha frolicking with a one-ton baby bull. What could go wrong? Three dozen of us from the Toledo program sat on a ranch patio drinking fruity red wine sangría. The main attraction was a Spanish capea; playing hide-and-go-seek with a bull no taller than our chests in a mini plaza de toros. When my turn came I spent the briefest of moments dashing out from the partition until the torito and his horns looked my way. Although I was 20, I  believed in my mortality. Two others, un estadounidense (man from the US) and una mexicana (woman from Mexico), were far braver and vaulted the bull as if it were a stationary pommel horse. We cheered wildly and returned to the patio to enjoy more sangría.

Against the cardinal barroom rule, I went to finish my drink rather than asking for a new one. I chewed the fruit greedily, surprised when an orange crunched. A needle pierced the inside of my cheek. Pain radiated and my mind struggled to form the phrase, “Una abeja… No, una avispa me picó en la boca.” A bee… No, a wasp stung me in the mouth. As my left cheek swelled I told the program director my story. Moving swiftly to find treatment in my emergency, the directora sat me next to her in the back seat of a car, and her friend drove. This was the early 1990’s; the directora used portable phone technology I had never seen outside of Get Smart episodes. I began to ask her about it, but she emphatically told me to rest.

She found a closed pharmacy in a small town ten minutes away that we reached in five and called to ask them to treat my sting. Despite the late hour, the pharmacist came downstairs from his apartment above his work, looked in my mouth, asked me questions, and fetched a topical medication and an antihistamine tablet to reduce inflammation. For a week I looked like a chipmunk with nuts in just one cheek. Sometimes a tiny wasp is mightier than a raging bull.

Gracias for your support. Por favor, leave a comment to let me know you’ve stopped by. What was your most surprising health experience at home or abroad?

Olé! Fake Flamenco is six months old today! -Rebecca

Para leer este ensayo en español, haz un clic en La última vez que tomaba sangría.

Rebecca Cuningham

10 thoughts on “The Last Time I Drank Sangría

  1. Great post, Rebecca! I didn’t know you’d spent time in Spain–although I’m not surprised. My most surprising health experience was on the very woo-woo side. We were about to land in Dublin, and I could feel a cold coming on with the impact of a Mack truck. Nooooo! I started doing deep, focused breathing and soon felt surrounded by the presence of a “cluster spirit” who referred to themselves as the “healing nuns”. They had no gender, no religious affiliation, and were raucously funny. They also had me totally clear of cold symptoms by the time we landed. No, I wasn’t drinking during the flight…. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for your comment, Liz! What an amazing experience you had. Wow, what a strong spiritual connection to get such immediate help. Was this before or after your studies in the healing arts?


      1. I was trying to determine whether the bull was real but sounded so until friends vaulted over and no reaction? The thought of horns charging would keep me on the porch. Instead of horn impalements, the wasp did more damage, a surprising twist.
        I don’t recall injuries in travel but have had some at home. Showing off swinging on a clothesline post. Felt pretty confident until I released my grip to land falling backwards with my hands behind or under me breaking my fall. I broke a wrist. It was swollen and misshapen but no bones protruding. Still it frightened me and I went into my home crying. It was the summer of sweaty itching skin under heavy plaster cast carried in sling and signed by classmates. I did find that extra attention after all.

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      2. Hi Mary, thanks for your comments and your story! The cast sounds very uncomfortable. But at the same time I remember kids with casts in elementary school having brief movie star status ; ) The bull in my story was very real. The gymnasts vaulted over it so expertly that the bull scarcely noticed! (A “Huh, where did they go?” reaction) Close attention by the wasp was better than that of the bull. Olé! Rebecca

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      3. It was 2013 shortly before I started the 4-year program at Barbara Brennan School of Healing, but I’d been following a spiritual path for 40 years & had been a Reiki master practitioner for 6–so kind of a mix there. The “healing nuns” accompanied me in my healing work through the next 4 years, and shortly before I graduated BBSH, they let me know they’d be available if I needed them, but they were stepping back & passing me on to another “group”, “higher up the line”.

        Liked by 2 people

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