One of the highlights of my visit to Buenos Aires was the incredibly generous invitation of Antonella’s parents to visit their home for a traditional Argentinian asado – a barbeque and social gathering. Antonella (and her boyfriend Matias) was one of the lovely people I met on the road on my penguin day.
I didn’t really know what to expect and assumed it would be a fairly low key affair with a bit of food and a few beers maybe. It turned out to be far from that.
My hosts, Antonella’s father Cristian and mother Noelia were wonderfully delighted to see me and it wasn’t long before a cold beer was in my hand, a cup that was never emptied during my stay. I knew I’d have a good time. They have a wonderful house which includes a dance studio and their parents Dorita and Hector living with them. Despite none of them speaking English and me not speaking Spanish, communication was not a problem. Google translate was in full use, with sometimes amusing results, but on the whole sentiments, gestures and digital assistance worked a treat.
Of course the food was delicious and it was a privilege to be offered a seat at the head of the table. Succulent beef cuts, chicken, chorizo, salad and bread were all perfect for the occasion. Uncle Anibal joked that he should come round more often when Cristian has foreign guests, cause he brings out the good meat then!
I did at times find it all a bit overwhelming, everyone was genuinely interested to hear about my travels and to tell me more about their country. I don’t necessarily like being the centre of attention but everyone was so enthusiastic and generous I had to give a good account of myself and not shy away into a corner. For some of them, I was the first English person that they had met, so I wanted to make it a postie experience for them.
It was a lovely family occasion, I could tell that Cristian was proud to be able to spend family time that way, something he really values. Anabella and Fiorella enjoyed telling me a bit about themselves and have some interest in English, something which Cristian thinks is very important in order to give them more opportunities in future. I can see his point, I’m sure having some English language is a good thing for most Argentinians, but not essential for everyone perhaps. The little kids at the party Thiago and Oriana played happily in a perfect family environment, it was a delight to see. Anibal’s wife Claudia joined us later on.
Anibal is definitely the joker of the pack and carries out an unusual activity, that isn’t quite what it seems at first, and is a particularly important service to Hector who unfortunately has Parkinsons. A memorable and touching moment was when his condition came up in conversation and he looked me straight in the eye and told me something in Spanish which I understood to be his thoughts about having the condition. Rather than moping about about, Hector chooses to view it as thus…
“Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life”Hector
It all that wasn’t enough, towards the end of the visit the gifts started coming out, which of course made my measly token bottle of wine look pretty poor. After I asked Anibal about his football passion (Bocca through and through), and he teased me about the Maradona hand of god, he disappeared and returned with a shirt and a hat to christen my daughter and I as official Bocca Juniors fans from hereon in.
In addition to being the conduit who made the whole day happen, I really have to offer out all my thanks to Antonella who gifted one of her Bocca volleyball shirts to my daughter.
I hope that one day I will be able to welcome some of this lovely family to England and we can show them the kind of generosity that they showed to me, truly inspiring!