I had the opportunity to go to Argentina and Uruguay with my friend Marianna Konsolos for 2 weeks in July. Marianna was born and raised in Uruguay so she has a devoted following of family and friends there and was going for a visit and invited me to join her. What a privilege! When I met Marianna in Edmonton a couple of years ago, it didn't take long for us to become friends and now I understand why. The South American people not only give their friendship, but they give you their hearts.
Marianna and I had a conversation before we left about what happens between people when they travel together. We decided that our main concern would be the well-being of each other. And because of this straight forward conversation we took care of each other. Whether it be some alone time or just being supportive in a situation, we came away with a stronger relationship. Mission accomplished!
Besides doing all the fun sightseeing trips, tango shows, delicious dinners, and incredible shopping, Marianna and some friends in Uruguay planned two events for us to speak at.
This of course could have been a big challenge because I don’t speak Spanish, but we handled my portion by having the host interview me and then Marianna translated it to Spanish. I was concerned that my message would not reach them in the translation, and the guests were concerned they would not understand. The ladies really wanted to understand and were so wonderful, all hanging on my every word. Each event was packed to overflowing and the feedback was filled with gratitude and plenty of kisses. I had ladies approach me, some with only a few words of English to thank me so much for inspiring them with my story. With no shortage of kisses and hugs we left both events feeling we made a difference.
I thought about how easy it could have for me or the ladies attending to fall into resistance. We could have made the decision to not do my portion of the evening due to language challenges. I decided that I would share from the heart and that has a language all of its own. When people are willing to share with their hearts and it is received with open hearts, it is very powerful. As women, we all are challenged with similar situations no matter where we live. And this became even more clear to me as the events happened and the trip came to an end. We all want to be heard, seen and valued. Pretty easy, isn’t it. But hard to get or do sometimes.
At the end of the 2nd event I had two ladies who were trained coaches approach me and we connected very quickly. We talked about the parallels we all share as women and how important it is to share our stories and be willing to step out of our comfort zones in support.
Besides the events, I met so many people through Marianna. Her brother Marcello, who gave so much of his time being our tour guide. He even made a plan to go to tango lessons. When we got to the venue, they were teaching the Jive. Too funny, but lots of fun anyways.
What a wonderful experience to be introduced to a country by people who live there. Marianna's parents were so sweet, they went out their way to make our trip so special, plus friends and family, who all wanted a little of our time. Marianna’s mother bought me a warm hoodie and a traditional cup with straw for Mate tea. I felt like one of the family. We went out many nights for dinner at an hour that would normally be my bedtime in Canada. Sharing company and food in restaurants and their homes, I always came along, because I didn’t want to miss anything.
The last day we were in Punta Del Este
(the French Riviera of South America).
So beautiful! Marianna’s parents planned a traditional barbeque for us on our last night, this is something to be experienced. They fired up a wood BBQ in their backyard . It is a half day process to get the coals just right to cook the simmering deliciousness of chicken, beef, and sausages. What a smell! Eating is not rushed, it is enjoyed with hours of conversation.
I know I will be asked about what was the highlight of this life-changing trip and I know exactly what I will say. Could it be the delicious meals, the many trips to the hair salon or the shopping? No, it was the people. The beautiful, loving people of Argentina and Uruguay.
I left Edmonton with my friend Marianna, and then left Argentina 2 weeks later with a sister. Our relationship became so much closer during this trip. The South America people are so loving, always full of compliments with such generosity. I received a wonderful piece of advice from the 92 year old grandmother of Marianna’s best friend Tamara. She said " never stop running"! I understood what she meant. Such a lovely women who lived through so much and still enjoys everyday, playing cards, visiting with friends and grasping the essence of the present moment. Another thing that surprised me, was the attitude about retirement in South America. People don't seem to retire, or even talk about it. Marianna’s father says working keeps him young and he enjoys it. I so agree with some the South American ways. The afternoon siesta’s, the late dinners and gift of affection they offer you all the time.
This trip has changed me in so many ways. The greatest gift in going on these trips is in coming home to Canada. The comfort and lifestyle we live is incredible and I appreciate my home and my life all the more when I come home.
Dianna Bowes is the founder of Fabulous of50 and the editor of Be Fabulous! Magazine.
Dianna was the winner of the 2011 YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the Turning Point category and the 2014 Leader of Tomorrow Business Award. She is a creative soul, who loves connecting people and embracing life. Travel, great food, family, friends and a long bike ride on a sunny day is her definition of great life.