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The Traveling Seed

El Campo

ARGENTINA | Thursday, 15 May 2014 | Views [385] | Scholarship Entry

Over the melody of two guitars José closes his eyes. He inhales and slowly exhales a poem. It's a Cantata Riojana, tradicional sang poems from La Rioja, Argentina. He is 70, hefty white hair, prominent belly, thick eyebrows.
I don’t know what these words describe, where their true meaning lies, and it doesn’t matter. They come out the mouth as if squeezed directly from a deep spot in the soul, from a common past that remains engraved in the bodies. We are 50 and we are silent. It has been a long night, an even longer day, but the passion of what is said doesn't dismay. Suddenly, from the other side of the porch new words begin, continuing and complementing the previous ones.
I smile and hold my tears. The feeling of belonging is bigger than I can express, unexplained by the time I've been here, and yet…

**
It’s Fernando’s 65th birthday. He’s Gringa’s, my host, childhood friend. 50 people have been invited for the weekend at his country house.
Half the guests are already here when we arrive: family, friends, friends of the friends, like me and Joris.
We are received has if we had always been part of the gang; extranjeros, not strangers. We’re handed out a beer and sat at the table. The conversation naturally continues where it had stopped.

Lunch blends in with afternoon snacks. Small groups gather across the house.
By the pool a bitter mate is being passed around by 15 women. Mothers, daughters and friends discussing Fernando’s friend, single, and how he looks ok for one of the single girls. The “girls” are Gringa, Claudia and Estela, all over 58. Bursting into laughter they agree it could be interesting and está bueno, but he doesn’t speak much and is a bit weird.
In other groups the card game truco is being played. Discussions arise over trivialities and politics. Hugs and slaps on the back are circulating, there’s laughter in the air.

After dinner the guitars are brought out on the porch and nobody allows the music to extinguish until dawn. Cantatas, tangos and chacareras succeed in an alternation of heart felt silences and euphoria. Joris tells me he’s happy and deeply moved and that it shows I am too.

When sleep wins over the last man standing we get distributed by the bedrooms. There’s people piled up across the house. Some have put up tents in the lawn.
Claudia warns us she’s going to snore. Gringa confirms it. Voices start getting lower. A loud snore sounds followed by muffled laughs. Slowly the whole house falls asleep.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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