There are stories, some are large, some are small. This is a small story but no less important and perhaps more so, because he is a friend – a dear friend.
I first met Edgardo in 2007 (I think), it could have been 2006, it doesn’t really matter. I was teaching a teacher’s course in yoga and Edgardo was there. It was held in a yoga center that my host María Mettler had in Martinez, Buenos Aires. I was sharing what I had to teach and Edgardo was there listening, asking questions and stretching as we went through the different postures and kriyas. It’s possible the course lasted over a 3-year period – it was a long way for me to travel from Barcelona, Spain. What maybe is unique to the story is that over the years we became friends. Good friends.
He gave me the use of his apartment for two weeks when I took Daniela with me in March of 2010. We shared countless meals together and conversations that were sometimes inconsequential and other times meant much more. We’ve shared our ups and downs in life in a way that perhaps isn’t all that common amongst men. Yet we’ve done it with openness and genuine affection for one another.
Edgardo is a restaurateur. He has two restaurants under the name of “Ohashi”, both offering fresh Sushi: one in Martinez, Buenos Aires and the other in San Isidro, Buenos Aires. I think the name means chopsticks in Japanese, at least that is what I remember. I can’t tell you all the times I’ve eaten there out of the kindness of Edgardo’s heart not paying even one peso for all the food. And I’m not the only one. I think that every time I’ve gone to Buenos Aires, Edgardo has organized a party at his restaurant in my honor usually inviting 8-10 of his closest friends. The food and the late hours of conversation have always been on the house. I’ve met politicians, economists, artists, writers and business leaders. The best that Buenos Aires has to offer. I don’t know how many stories I’ve gained and repeated over the years as a result of those get-togethers at Edgardo’s restaurant.
Edgardo has somehow survived over the years, economically speaking that is, as Argentina has struggled with corruption, mismanagement and high inflation. I remember years ago when he told me it was almost impossible to import the fresh salmon he needed every week from Chile. Normal banking practices were non-existent and he had to pay in cash or his suppliers wouldn’t ship to him. Through all of that upheaval, I don’t know how many times Edgardo told me that he couldn’t raise prices at his restaurant because people wouldn’t be able to pay even though his costs kept going up.
And now yesterday he sends me this picture. Like many restaurants the world over, he is open for takeout orders. Witness the protection he wears every day and all day long to keep the business afloat. He told me, I have to do it for my employees so they will still have something in the way of wages coming in during these incredibly difficult times. They depend on it for their survival. I asked him how he and his sentimental partner were doing. He said that they are fine but that they are in isolation. It came as a shock to me. He said, I’m at considerable risk every day doing what I’m doing and this is the only thing that I can do for her, for everyone.
Edgardo is father of two beautiful daughters who think the world of him. His oldest daughter, Agustina, couldn’t get back home from Panama City, Panama where she works. His youngest daughter, Julieta, was able to get back home from Australia where she was living. One day while staying in Edgardo’s apartment on Avenida Libertador in Buenos Aires, I saw a note pinned to the wall in his kitchen that said, “To the Re Re Papa – we love you.” It was from his daughters and either on occasion for Christmas or for his birthday. It means you are the best, best father in the world. It was probably there for at least 6 months, if not longer. You have to love Argentinians, there use of language, phrasing, their spontaneity and love of life so large even in the face of so many day-to-day difficulties.
I love this man, his family and the example he sets for me today, perhaps, in the most challenging of times. For me, he is my Re Re Friend.