Gratitude is in the air. Not just a travel anecdote.

My dear friend Nina is a stewardess. She had to work on dec. 31st in a return flight from Miami to Argentina. On these Holidays crew members are allowed to take a friend with them, so she invited me to join her all the way from Buenos Aires – Miami – Buenos Aires in just 48 hours! We were going to celebrate new year flying somewhere above the Ecuatorian sky…

No need to say I accepted!

After visting Miami Beach we rushed to Dolphin´s to buy all sales we were able to pay for and capable to carry with (women´s ability to meet both goals is well known so we did a good deal of shopping). Then we went to the Cheesecake factory because I was hungry and insisted. The other girls said they were ok with a Starbucks coffe… pardon? Coffe for dinner? Not for me!! The funny thing was they ate as much or more than myself… they were hungry too!

Next day we walked in the sorroundings of University train Station, did a bit more shopping and ate sushi from Whole Foods at our hotel, sitting comfortably by the  swimmingpool.

Time was over and we litteraly sat on our before empty suitcases to be able to close them.

Then I had the idea to play a new year´s friendship game during the flight. Rushed to Holiday Inn´s PC room, searched for a nice 2013 image and started printing 45 copies. Printer run out of paper so I dared to go to front desk to get my problem solved. We assembeled all crew members, captains and other airline staff that was travelling with us that night and briefly explained how it went: you should think of a life purposeful desire for the coming year and write it down as a desire for someone else (“I wish you”… kind of text) and you should sign giving a medium difficulty clue about your self to play an “invisible friend” game during the flight.

2013All agreed enthusiastically (is not easy to counteract a 20 years experienced toddlers and young infants teacher, you see?) except for  one man who didn´t join us… a self induced fringe person.

We departed on time and after serving some drinks, my dear friend put all papers in a bag and walked through aisles for us to pick one, as if she were serving an appetizer. Then fun began. People got up, they started asking each other:

- Do you live in the West Area of Buenos Aires?

- Were you born in Corrientes province?

- Did life offer you a second chance?

- Do you have only one bunion? (this was the best one and believe it or not, her friends knew who she was!!)

There was laughter and joy when every one discovered his well wisher and they gave each other a big hug. In the mean while captain appeared in the loudspeakers. We were in the countdown for new year and we jumped in repeating along whith him… 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1,

Happy new year!!!

An old american couple woke up and they were looking at their watches asking each other: “Why do they celebrate new year???” (Argentinean time is two hours forward and for sure the crew wanted to turn off the lights early and get a short nap before serving breakfast). Poor old people, they paid premium business class and were surrounded by around 30 cheerful Argentinians that were travelling for free!!

I got home, gave my dear husband and dear kids the little presents I brought and our new year started sharing a peaceful day at home. Towards the evening, Ricardo and I went watering the front garden. In no more than 25 minutes a few people approached asking for food and old clothes. The last one was a pregnant lady with two girls. I gave her some bananas and a bottle of water because we are in summer and it was a hot day.

- Don´t you have left overs? We haven´t eaten anything today.

I went back to my kitchen, warmed a rice, lentils and vegetables stew and gave it to her. They sat on the walk side immediately and started eating. My husband stared at me and I stared at him. We both agreed.

- Come in, sit at our table and have your dinner.

- Sure, she said and her smile revealed an irregular and incomplete set of teeth.

Rosa and her girls, Rocío and Camila, chatted, laughed and asked for bread, cheese, baby blankets, mosquito repellent, antibiotics, diapers, money for the bus and train card, a stay over job to clean homes… Oh my! Some things I could give, some of course not.

- I was born in 1983, Rosa mentioned. But I like to say I´m a bit younger, only rags are old (that´s a common expression in Spanish: “viejos son los trapos”)… She was just 29 years old, had 6 kids and one coming! To me, she looked like a 45 years old woman.

After slowly picking all their bags, carriers, boxes and loose items they kissed me and left. Balancing their steps they turned round the corner and disappeared. The image gap to my recent travel was so huge and so small at the same time…

homeless-women

Various emotions rushed in and quickly vanished again in my conscience… gratitude for what I have, sadness for what they don´t, and a sudden determination… like a prayer…

In this journey of life may I become an “invisible friend” of those in need and despair,

learning to reveal their hidden clues.

In gratitude.

child-heart

I´ll be coming back to amararama as often as possitble this year to say thank you. Hope you share this new adventure with me.

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