Wednesday, March 23, 2016

#BuenosAires -Being Rich & Poor, #Family & the Slopes Of #Bariloche, #Argentina / #thisQuilt #allthatmatters

I am thankful that I have known what it is to be incredibly wealthy and incredibly poor. I have lived both sides and appreciate the lessons both states can teach.

My family use to be quite affluent before Hurricane Hugo blasted  my fathers  housing development projects in the late 1980's and some financial mistakes shattered everything. We use to ski in Utah and Colorado in the winters. In the summer time we would fly into Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mom and Dad would book a suite for the family at the Plaza Hotel there. I would have the cheese soup. We would walk Avenida Florida, visit the stores and eat. At least that was my experience. One time I let go of my mother's hand and grabbed it again only to find that it was not her. The stranger took me to the 'cuartel,' or police station where I sat until my parents showed up. Mom and Dad would tell us to stick close to them. In the 1980's people would disappear in Argentina and I knew this back then. I remember seeing a great many children with bad teeth living on the streets at the time. Things could have turned out badly for me, but it did not and I was reunited with my family.

Buenos Aires is a lot like New York City. It has an air of sophistication. It has a unique flavor, all of its own. I like it. Afterwards we would take a small plane to the south of the country and fly into the town of Bariloche. We would disembark right onto the tarmac and the drive to the hotel and ski mountain was long. We would stay at the  'Hotel El Catedral.' A rustic, wooden hotel at the feet of the ski slopes. There was a candy store inside my sisters and I would frequent. The soda was in glass bottles. I collected my Sprite and Coca-Cola bottles and brought them home to Puerto Rico each time as mementos. I thought it was so cool.

Dad was Mr. Expert Skier and would always invoke Jean-Claude Killy, the three-time Olympic alpine and slalom skier born in France as he hit the slopes. Dad was a crazy sportsman in a nice way. He would be totally fine in taking me, all of five years old with him on the toughest slopes. He would do this when Mom's attention was elsewhere. The slopes weren't groomed and regulated like the one's in Deer Valley, Utah or Vail, Colorado. There would be patches of ice. You really had to ski like Jean-Claude Killy to maneuver and auto-correct with hairpin agility. Being all of five, six and seven years old (depending on the vacation year), I did what I could. I knew how to pizza stop and fall on my side. Other than that, I would go straight down like spitfire. One time, Dad took me to the highest, most remote slope. I had lost control and was headed towards a precipice at lightning speed. There were no ropes to stop one. We were above the clouds. I saw the end of the road for me. I knew I was going to go over and that that would be it. My life  actually flashed before my eyes in a weird way. I thought to myself, I am too young to die. I will not die. But there was cut up ice under me and I had no traction. I could not stop my trajectory. Then I looked back and saw Claude Killy racing towards me... or was it my Dad? He was far away.

'Dad,' I thought... 'you won't make it in time.' The precipice loomed large.

 It was quite a drop before getting to the bottom cloud cover which blanketed the bottom of the world. But Dad flew over me and threw his body weight on my body. My body and face hit the cut ice. Dad paralleled his skis with both of us still slipping fast towards the edge. We were about twenty feet away now from going over. I can still here the sound of the crunch. The collision of him and I still is fresh in my memory. We came mightily close. Momentum slowed and silence took over. Dad hugged me and dusted me off. We continued on our way, as if it was nothing.


Argentina holds a special place in my heart. It is good to travel and meet new cultures. Memories were made there. Family time is what I remember most vividly. More than the cheese soup or watching Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov tap-dancing movies in Spanish. Conversations with my parents and sisters are infused in my heart.

 Being just materially rich all my life would not have been so swell. It is good to know what it is like to struggle and it is good to be able to rest and enjoy the fruits of one's labor. Times of rest and enjoyment with the people you love and love you fill the heart for the tough times of life. The arduous times of life deepen appreciation and gratitude for the good times of rest. Nothing is taken for granted. I take nothing for granted. Having lived both sides of the coin shelters me from blindly chasing after money. Money helps, but it does not purchase lasting happiness. I focus on the intangible things. Things you can't buy at a store or fly to. Life is short and goes by quickly it seems. Taking time to acknowledge what truly matters is important rather than thinking that we'll be happy once our bank account is just right. That is better than a vacation and what family is all about...#eachother.

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