Aug 092014

Today I must report on all the wonderful people I have had the opportunity to meet in Argentina.  Some of them I now consider friends, others I have met only briefly but will remember forever because of their kindness towards me.

Of course my family is marvelous; Nora and Carlos, their daughter Cecilia and her family.  We all went to dinner together last weekend as an expression of my gratitude to them for being such wonderful hosts.

              My Family in Cordoba from the left, Santiago, Delfina, Carlos, Nora, Matteo, and Cecilia

                              Me and Nora                                          Me and Morea


Then there is Parque de Kempes, Equinoterapia, directed by Ricardo whom I cherish and who is like a grandfather to all the children who come there.  He is both loving and tough depending on what is needed at the time but always with a smile, causing most others to break into a smile if not laughter at his jokes and pranks.  The other volunteers here have also become my friends, Colo, Eugenia, Brigie, and Gabby all so sweet and giving to the children and their parents or caregivers.  These women all have other responsibilities, be it jobs or studies and yet make the effort a few times a week to give to these children.  We have worked together well and have come to enjoy each other’s company.

          Equinoterapia, from left, Gaby, Diego, Ricardo and Guillermo

Colo and her mother

Then there are some of the clients at Equinoterapia that I have come to know as well, like Guillermo who I told you about before but who has really become a friend because we have gotten to know each other from the time spent riding.  Last weekend we met in the city and visited for a while, sin caballos,  having lunch and walking around talking.  He is a very spiritual person and emotes such gratitude for life, it is contagious.  I have also come to know his driver Diego, who always brings mate and shares.  He is a very animated speaker, though talks so fast there is little I understand.  Thankfully Guillermo is able to translate.

Mariano, is the father of one of our very young clients who I finally got to know better after spending some time together last week, building a fire for making Choripan. (Choripan is a grilled sausage eaten with bread, tomato and lettuce.)   Mariano is a gentle soul who loves his little girl Codti and is always willing to assist lifting other clients if we need a  hand.  There are so many other people I’d like to mention, but the list is very long.  The Cordoba Police keep some of their horses in the same area as the therapy group and I have come to know and like, two policemen individually, Fabian and Oscar.  I cannot leave out Agustina, who is my mentor and on site director of the volunteer program and I also want to mention all the great teachers at Able Spanish especially mine, Belen.  Again it is impossible to list them all.


Belen, my Spanish teacher and friend who took me for Mexican food in Cordoba

Clients at Equinoterapia


                                                                 Just loving the ride                         Learning what a horse looks like when you cannot see


  Ricardo, everyone’s abuelo

  Practicing Balance

All of the people mentioned above, I have come to know because they are involved in some way with the programs I am participating in as a volunteer.  But I have met some other folks that came into my life as absolute strangers and left with relatively the same status but leaving behind a memory that I will cherish for a long time though the encounters were brief.

A couple of weeks ago, I went into the city center to find a store that I was told about that sells tack and other goods related to horses and riding.  Although I thought I knew the destination, I evidently got off the bus too early and decided to continue on foot.  When I thought I was close, I stopped a woman on the street and asked her if she knew the store.  She did, lucky for me, but I was not as close as I thought.  So this kind woman went out of her way to escort me.  I have no idea where she was going when I stopped her, but she didn’t seem to mind in the least to go out of her way.  We walked together to the front door and she bid me farewell in the customary way, with a kiss on the cheek and a ”Chau,”  like we were old friends.

I may have eventually found the store as I have numerous locations after much walking around, but this woman certainly shorten the expedition and just made me so happy by her thoughtfulness.  This is one of the feelings you get when traveling that cannot be explained, other to say that people, total strangers, can be so empathetic and selfless it creates a bond that though brief is beautiful.  I appreciate all kindness, but that of strangers is so unexpected, and yet again it is not.  We were all strangers once, even our parents did not know us and certainly it provides a good reason to pay the kindness forward to others we meet along the way.

Not long after that, I was on another adventure, because even small excursions in a unfamiliar place become adventures, when I met a gentleman by the name of Rudi.  I had decided to go to one of the small towns in the nearby Sierra Chicas for the day and needed to take  a bus from a terminal in the city center.  I ventured out as usual with somewhat of an idea of its location and caught a bus into town early in the morning to go to the terminal.  Well, my bus card that must be scanned for a ride was not  working.  It registered nothing on the scanner.  Usually you pay with a ping and then your balance appears on the screen, but this morning I got nada.  Since I knew there were at least 70 pesos still remaining on the card, I complained to the driver who did not seem to care.  I didn’t think it right that I should have to get off, so just took a seat with my apologies and hoped for the best.  A gentleman sitting behind me struck up a conversation trying to assist me.  It was soon obvious that I was a foreigner so the conversation went in another direction about me, and where I was from and what I was doing in Cordoba.  Rudi, introduced himself and offered to take me to the terminal.  Once we got off the bus together, he invited me to have a coffee with him first.  Good coffee is always welcomed here so I agreed to go with him.  We talked for a while and he was patient with my Spanish. He asked my age and if I was single, if I had a boyfriend.  He asked about my family, children and siblings.  Finding out the answers, he then asked for my number and I gave him Nora’s since my phone does not work here.  He wrote it on a napkin and then took me to the terminal.  He went in with me and made sure I got the right ticket and knew where to wait for the bus and then he left.  Another kiss on the cheek another heartfelt “Chau” and he was gone.   I have not heard from him and suspect  he lost the napkin because he was definitely sincere.  I’m not sure if he had called we would have gone, but I am glad to have met him and he truly helped me out that day.

Now today I had what might be a karmic experience to compliment the one with Rudi, because while I was waiting for the bus this morning to go to work, there were 2 women also waiting.  One asked me which bus I was taking and then asked if she could buy a ride from me since she did not have enough pesos on her pass.  I have learned that this is a common practice here for those that have no pass or insufficient funds, another passenger can scan twice and then be reimbursed, an efficient and friendly solution.  I was therefore happy to oblige this woman and then we all got to talking.  One woman asked about me, where I was from, what I was doing in Cordoba etc, small talk.  Anyway the bus arrived and as we boarded, her friend who was not going, gave me the customary kiss on the cheek and wished me well so earnestly you would have thought us long time friends.  It made me feel so good, so appreciated for such a simple act.  I thought again these people are the sweetest on earth.





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