Backpacking can introduce you to all sorts of fascinating customs and traditions. Hostels and guest houses serve as the hippie equivalent of the United Nations – a convergence of cultures, nationalities and ideas. This exchange of ideas can revolve around politics, music, religion, philosophies, worldviews and other big discussions. It also facilitates the spread another essential cultural tradition: drinking games.
I learned how to play “Align your gearbox” while volunteering on a Liberian refugee camp in Ghana. I shared a guesthouse with other international volunteers from Canada, the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. To this day I can’t remember who actually introduced me to this game (when beers only cost 10 cents, one’s memory tends to get a bit foggy).
Here’s how it works:
- Everybody playing starts with a fresh drink.
- Each round begins with the most important and fun part of the game: everybody pumps their fist up and down (like you’re honking the horn of a big semi truck) and shouts “1, 2, 3, 4, align your gearbox!” After that the round has officially started.
- Players must then count, in sequential order, from 1 to however many players are involved in the game. Anyone can shout out a number at any time and once you’ve said a number, you are safe for that round.
- However, if you say a number at the same time as another player, you both must take a drink.
- If the round gets to the last number and you still haven’t said a number, you must drink your entire drink.
Let’s say seven people are playing. The game starts with everyone shouting “1, 2, 3, 4, align your gearbox!” The next thing anyone can say is “one!” Assuming no one else said “one” at the same time, that player is now safe and doesn’t say anything else for that round. Another player must then shout out “two!” and so on.
- Will: “one!” [no one drinks]
- Sarah: “two!” [no one drinks]
- Tony: “three!” [no one drinks]
- Janele and Jared say at the same time: “four!” “four!” [they both drink]
And a new round begins.
It’s a dirt simple but very fun game. As I mentioned earlier, my favourite part is the hand-pumping and shouting. In the beginning the words are clear and coherent. But as the night wears on the shouting becomes increasingly ridicuilous.
- 8:00 pm “One, two, three, four align your gearbox!” [sophisti-ma-cated]
- 9:00 pm “ONETWOTHREEFOURALIGNYOURGEARBOX!!!!” [wildly pumping your arm up and down and screaming at the top of your lungs]
- 10:00 pm “wun-tuh-freefor-line-a-zzzzzzzzzz” [game over]
What fun games have you been introduced to while traveling?
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