08 December, 2008

Mi casa es su casa...¡pero no la venda!

It happened like this:
Victoria and I were wandering around San Martín de los Andes, Argentina looking for housing and we found what we thought looked like a promising apartment building, but couldn’t figure out where to go to ask about renting. Then Victoria saw this kind-looking middle-aged woman walking from her car to her house. We ran over and asked the woman who we could talk to about renting and she explained that they were all owned individually. We thanked her and were about to leave when she mentioned that she had a friend who was renting a small house and invited us in while she gave this friend a call. When she was unable to reach her friend, she offered to drive us up to see the house, because she knew where it was and figured we’d like to see it, if only from the outside. We accepted and thanked her and the three of us headed off.
This was the beginning of a more-than-2-hour adventure where Cecilia drove us from place to place following one lead after another. We talked to people that were friends of friends of Cecilia’s whom she had never met, drove to numerous different communities in the San Martín de los Andes area, practiced our Spanish, saw 3 different potential houses, and heard about Cecilia’s Italian lover. Admittedly, none of the places she showed us were quite what we were looking for
and we eventually rented a cute little apartment in the center of San Martín that another friend showed us, but Cecilia’s generosity and kindness after knowing us for less than 5 minutes really surprised me.
And this is how our entire trip has been! Everywhere we have gone people have invited us into their homes and made us feel welcome. In Mendoza, we met up with friends of the family,
Alberto and Maria-Gracia Aristarain, who helped us find a hostel in Mendoza and then let us stay for two days (for free) at their beautiful Bed and Breakfast, Casa Glebinias. In San Alfonso, we were warmly welcomed by friends of friends of the family, Sergio Andrade and his family, and given a place to stay for the night and the next morning, the son, Pangal, and his friend, Marco, helped us find a place to live in San Alfonso for the two months we were there. Also during our time in San Alfonso, we were invited to two
different asados (barbecues), two different times, by two different families that barely knew us. The colectivo (a kind of taxi) driver, Tito, who we got to know, invited us out to try mote con huesillo (a special Chilean drink – see picture) because he heard that we had never tried it. And the list goes on and on.
There is one other group that I would like to mention: the Giant Chile mountain bike team. The first race we went to, we met one of the younger racers, Nicolas Prudencio, who introduced us to the team and invited us to join them at their tent. From then on, we hung out at their tent during every race and even traveled with them to the race in Concepcion (5 hours away). We got to know the team really well and, just before we left for San Martín de los Andes, Argentina, spent 5 days at the team manager, José Antonio Riquelme’s, house riding and touring Santiago.
Throughout our trip we have met incredible people and I have made life-long friends. I am also more determined than ever to do everything I can to help people out, even if I’ve barely met them!
Note: The title of this post was something that José Antonio said to me when we were at his house. It means “My house is your house...just don’t sell it!”


ジーニー♥ said...

sounds like it was an awesome adventure ^_^

lucky lucky :)

Dante said...

Thanks for the compliments Macky.
Looks like things are going pretty well for you guys too. Glad to hear everyone is so hospitable.