I made it to Mendoza, Argentina a few days ago and guess what? It’s rained for some portion of every day I’ve been here. I hadn’t seen rain in months, and it turns out it sucks exactly as much as I remember… but it does become slightly more palatable when paired with a fine Malbec.
So day before yesterday, I literally witnessed the blind leading the blind. No lie! It started out as a threesome, with one man with blacked out glasses and a white cane holding the elbow of a 2nd man with skyward-pointed sightless eyes, who in turn was holding the elbow of an able-eyed skinny-jeaned hipster who was leading the trio. Turns out the hipster was just a good Samaritan navigating the vulnerable duo across the busy street. When they reached the other side, he gave them both a pat on the arm and ran back across the street to carry on his way, as the two smiled and continued to shuffle gingerly along the street together.
Then yesterday, on the sunny patio of a street-side restaurant at lunch, I watched a stylishly dressed elderly gentlemen of some means enjoying his solo lunch of ever-amazing Argentinian steak and (of course) a nice glass of vino. He was entirely alone with his thoughts (as was I, but I always have a laptop to keep me company!) and he seemed to me to be a little out of sorts and quite possibly, just a little grumpy.
Now, Argentina is going through a terrible financial crisis and some people here (as in many areas of the world), are struggling. In Mendoza, those in need occasionally approach restaurant patrons on patios for the leftover bread in the basket that has not been eaten at the end of the meal, or possibly for other scraps that remain. After the elderly man finished eating and sat back, one such scruffy young man approached his table and gestured to the bread in the basket (I was out of hearing range so am not sure if anything quietly was said). I was very curious to see how the older fellow would react.
To my delight, without fanfare or even changing the grumpy expression on his face, he gestured the ok for the remaining buns to be taken, then offered his steak knife to cut them open, and then he proceeded to slowly and carefully spoon what remained of his steak & vegetables into them for the surprised young man.
Such a small gesture; it cost him absolutely nothing and was so easy to do, but often in this world given that same moment many people make a different choice, and you have to ask yourself why. Kindness shouldn’t ever be so surprising, but too often it is. I’m going to try to remember to spread it around a bit more.
On my way here from Santiago I met an English-speaking Argentinian woman about 5 minutes before we were set to board the bus. Well as It turns out, the online info about crossing the border I had was outdated, and I needed to go online to pay the entry fee and print the receipt before boarding the bus (that was now to leave in about 7 minutes). This woman learned what was necessary from the concierge and then raced me around the terminal helping me to get it accomplished. In the end she came very close to missing the last bus of the day with me.
If Argentina isn’t careful, it’s going to earn kindest country award of the trip, but to temper things… shortly after the restaurant scene, I watched 2 women almost hit fist fight level in a pedestrian vs. driver intersection disagreement.
Can you eat it 3 meals a day, you ask? Why yes you can! Eating steak here is like eating tomatoes in Greece … you’re like, oh, that’s what it’s supposed to taste like!
So far I’ve navigated the illegal money changing without incident or arrest! Sun is in the forecast so wine touring on bicycles starts tomorrow. Do you think I should I wear a helmet, or is it much too late for that?