Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Family in a Foreign Country

A bonus to traveling outside of Canada is getting to know the people who live in the country you are visiting. Better yet, is having the good fortune to meet intriguing people who make you feel like you are part of their family.

When I arrived in Buenos Aires in September 2006 I was greeted at the airport by Cecilia...and a bouquet of flowers! I met Cecilia on my first trip to Argentina in November 2005. At that time I was travelling with two friends from Ottawa, Mildred Lynn and Joanne, as well as my sister Sharon who joined us from Newfoundland.

Throughout that first two-week visit of Buenos Aires, Cecilia, as Mildred used to say, was our "den mother". Having a natural love of Argentine history and deep knowledge of ceremony and protocol, she was the perfect person to introduce us to the city known as "the Paris of the South". Not a day would go by without a call to ask if we needed anything or to recommend a restaurant, tango hall, or shopping area. She often accompanied us on our outings, introduced us to her family and friends and helped us create many memorable "Chin Chin!" moments.

So on my return to Canada we stayed in contact and upon my arrival back in Buenos Aires in September I officially became her "third daughter".

Cecilia hails from Arenaza, a small town deep in the beautiful, lush pampas of the province of Buenos Aires. Along with eight brothers and sisters she grew up on a 4000-hectare farm. Yes...they are that big in Argentina! We recently took a road trip there to visit her sisters who live in near-by Lincoln and stopped into a friend's house to share a cup of mate (a hot, herbal drink very common among Argentines). The trip reminded me of summers in rural Newfoundland - not the landscape as much as the warmth of people who invite you into their homes to share a moment in time.

Cecilia now lives with her three children in the city of Buenos Aires. When she is not busy working at the university, teaching ceremony and protocol courses or travelling, she is often showing foreign visitors (those lucky enough to meet her) the many sights and sounds of Buenos Aires.

So for those of you who will be joining us on our Argentina Adventure in November 2012, I'll look forward to introducing you to Cecilia, one of Argentina's most beautiful people - inside and out.

Note: The traditional wool tam I am wearing in the first photo was a parting gift from Cecilia in 2005.