There are people that you meet along life’s path that are and will remain acquaintances. You meet each other for an occasional coffee or may run into each other at a party, but there is no basis for a deeper relationship. And then there are people that cross your path and you know immediately that you have shared a history that has set the stage for a meaningful friendship.
I met Silvia in October at a BPW (Business Professional Women) function that neither of us had planned on attending. I was supposed to be attending a Spanish class but had lost my enrolment spot in the course due to arriving late for registration (…after spending a fabulous long weekend in Mar del Plata). So, I was available to accept the invitation that Cecilia, a long-time member of the women’s association, had extended. For her part, Silvia was encouraged to attend by one of her friends, also a BPW member, who believed it would be a good networking opportunity in her new catering career.
And even though the meeting was at nine o’clock in the morning, an ungodly hour for two people who had rejected the 9-5, Monday to Friday routine, we both showed up.
Silvia speaks English quite well and was strategically seated next to me to help me understand the meetings proceedings. During the next couple of hours, however, we became distracted from the discussions with questions like: “What brought you to Argentina?”, “Do you like theatre?”, and the clincher “So have you experienced a typical Argentine asado (BBQ) yet?” When I responded “no” to that last question, Silvia quickly extended an invitation to go to her family’s quinta (country cottage) on Sunday. And although I did not know it at the time, the invitation would lead to gaining an Argentine sister.
In the months that followed, Silvia and I met up frequently to go to the theatre, a movie or out to dinner. She also gave me cooking classes in regional Argentine cuisine in exchange for helping her with English cooking vocabulary (a more than fair deal in my favour!) And unlike in Canada where you need to book a date with a friend a week or so in advance, you can call a friend in Argentina any evening of the week - including Friday - and if they are available, off you go.
Silvia introduced me to her friends, I became a part of her family and she became my sounding board to my new life in Argentina. “So”, I would ask her, “when a fellow in the street makes a passing comment to you, what do you do?” “Enjoy it,” Silvia would respond, “smile and walk on by.” Sound advice.
Shortly before I left Argentina to return to Canada, Silvia received an opportunity to go to Panama to prepare Argentine foods. She called me, very excited, and said “Hey Shel, I am going to be in Panama in June with my family. You are welcome to join us!”
Well, Silvia, if I do show up on your doorstep in Panama in June, please don’t be too surprised. And knowing Silvia, she probably wouldn’t be.