An audio and video podcast of my trip hitchhiking around the world by sea.
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Anaïs, Max and Viveros Guzman

When two total strangers offer to spend one of their days traveling to translate for you in a place where you have proven to have no luck communicating for yourself, it’s a dream come true. Fortunately, I woke to find it was no dream at all. Both Anaïs and Max were not only real the next morning they were up and waiting.

Once we arrived the office of Sr. Guzman at 9 am just as we agreed. This time I didn’t have to wait at all. Viveros invited my two new friends and I into his office and we started to talk. Not sure how much we actually knew of each other I started at the beginning. I began with the basics, explaining everything to Max who immediately translated to Mr. Guzman. I explained the website, the money you (the readers) had donated to do good deeds; I explained my connection to Pepe and Tom’s shoes and how Pepe mentioned the needs of the school Mr. Guzman represented.

Mr. Guzman listened attentively to Max, Anaïs observed from the side. Then I asked Mr. Guzman to explain the needs of the school. He told us of the community of San Antonio Des Los Culbres, an area and people all very poor. There was limited industry so most of the people in this small mountain-desert town were involved in either mining or herding llama. He told me about the small school I(we) would be helping. It sat an hour outside San Antonio Des Los Culbres, there were about 24 students and only a few workers. Most of the children lived at the school, because their families lived too far to commute on a regular basis.

As we volleyed information through Max, I grew more and more humbled. Not just by the facts of poor, but hard working community and its youth, but also by Sr. Guzman. He was a soft-spoken man who didn’t show much emotion except to express his gratitude on occasion. Guzman was serving his third term as the elected Superintendent of San Antonio Des Los Culbres. He worked a few days in Salta and a few days San Antonio. He showed his heart for the people he served, but was clearly tired. I learned later in years of Superintendent, Guzman had only taken a few days off.

Finally, I asked about the need. Pepe mentioned the school needed a refrigerator to store food. Guzman agreed. He explained they had nothing to store (refrigerate) food in, save a small area to store dried meat. I told him we’d like to purchase a freezer for them. Vivero pulled out a catalog of a local electronic store and offered to give me a ride into town. Then explained the rest of my itinerary.

I would purchase the freezer, which would then be delivered to the school in San Antonio. Later that afternoon I would meet a taxi outside the office who would drive me the 4+ hours out to San Antonio Des Los Culbres, courtesy Mr. Guzman, I would meet someone else who would then take me to the school to meet the kids, then bring me back to San Antonio.

Max and Anaïs continued to offer their language skills and rode with me to the store where we bargain shopped the biggest, most efficient freezer our money could buy for the school. Not only did we find what seemed to be a smoking deal (compared to the other freezers for sale), the store threw in a case of Argentine Malbec for our purchase.

Max and Anaïs escorted me back to the train station. We had lunch, spending our afternoon as if we’d be friends for a lot longer than one day. When the time came, I gave them a few bottles of Malbec (2 for them, 1 for the friendly hostel staff). We parted ways, Max and Anaïs to continue their backpacking adventures, me to meet my cab.

Which unfortunately, never showed up…


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