"satisfied to stay simple in a peaceful presence"

Click on a tab below and read about the adventures of Ginny and her wonderful volunteers!

Ginny and friends

I spent 3 months with Ginny……what an immersion into the Argentine culture…it was an incredible experience…not always an easy one……but a rewarding one in many ways……most importantly Ginny and I became great friends……and I saw places I would have never otherwise seen…and met people I would have never met……

Maddie…I think if you are at all interested ……contact Ginny and tell her you know me……and please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have…I have tons of photos of the past 3 months with Ginny…..and would love to share them with you……Go into her website to get a better understanding who Ginny is.

 

My dearest Ginny,
It is with great sadness that I write to you today as I know that once I press send and that you receive this email, I will be on my way to new adventures, leaving beautiful Argentina and all those I have come to love dearly and share many unforgettable memories. And even though I do not know when I will return to Patagonia for sure—I certainly know that I will be back someday and together, we shall laugh, sing, dance, dream and reminisce of the good old days. We will forget all our worries and focus on only the positive. We will drift away to higher grounds with the peace pipe and learn about our fate with the famous runes! We will have juicy asados around the sizzling fire and drive up to our hill top for a restful moment with a thermos of hot water and some maté, and we will live and love as if tomorrow was our last day.

 

As I sit here in my hotel room and write this, I want you to know and never forget that this is not goodbye my love. Instead, this is Au revoir, as well as my way of simply thanking you.

Ginny you have no idea what an amazing woman you are and considering what you have been through over the years – I cannot tell you enough how I admire your strength and determination to never give up. Even when you were struggling to get out of bed, you still managed to make sure I was happy and active and for that I am eternally grateful.

You helped me mend my broken heart and you were there for me; through thick and thin, and for that, for your undying energy, for your beautiful smile, your cheerful laugh and crazy whistles, for those friendly eyes and that warm touch, for all those welcoming hugs and for simply being you- I thank you Ginny. You are an inspiration to many and as I follow my life journey- I strongly hope that along the way, a little bit of you will remain in my heart.
I have had an amazing time with everyone and have truly fallen in love with the gauchos and their simple ways of living. I will miss the bubbly personalities and welcoming smiles, the caring and sharing, the laughing and dancing. Most of all, I will miss the people; ready to give you the world and always smiling even when they have nothing, the landscapes; vast amounts of land that stretches for miles on end with spectacular life coming out of it and finally the horses; these beautiful creatures that gallop afar with the wind in their manes and their sole purpose being to simply run free.
Finally, I will miss you and your everlasting love. Some say that love is like the wind: you may never see it, but you can always feel it wherever you go. I strongly believe that no matter where I end up or find myself your love will always shine through me. Please never let that fade away.

 

I will without a doubt miss you, but I will be thinking about you. I hope to stay in contact as often as possible and hopefully- at some point in the near future, when you least expect it, I will appear on your doorstep!
There is certainly a heaven on earth and Patagonia as well as its entire people shall forever remain in my heart.

Ginny I wish you lots of love and happiness. I wish that your dreams come true and that your legs eventually find the strength and will to lift you up and let you run free again.

I love you and send you lots of hugs and kisses.

I’m actually yours,
Jess

Dearest Dancing Queen,

Well I just finished seeing all the photos you posted on Facebook today, of the birthday you spent at your beautiful chacra at El Hueco. It looks like it was a lovely day, full of sunshine and friends. Sky trelissing beans from the garden, you on the porch with your easle and paints. You were surrounded with laughter and your horses, just like you like it.

I have such memories of our time in El Huecu with its one gas station, clinic and small grocery shop - where you sent me to pick up some FiberOne and yogurt one morning when we were out. I remember walking the dirt road as frequented by horses as cars and seeing the expansive views of the Patagonian mountains all around. For a good long while it was just me and those mountains and nothing else. I remember breathing deeply to internalize the feeling and remember it forever.

What age might you be celebrating now, is it 63 or 64? In the photos you posted you look radiant and ageless. I love the one of you and Sky smiling each other, your faces equally beautiful and full of love. So cool she made you a cake. She can do everything. Your daughter is amazing.

 

I see you said your birthday prayers too, complete with sage and condor feather in hand. I remember when we did that together, gave our thanks to Mother Earth and the sky and everything else. You taught me how to feel truly grateful, to live every moment full of conscious gratitude. I was drawn to yoga because of it when I returned to New York, and when I meditate I still sometimes think of Volcan Copahue outside our window in Caviahue. Often throughout my day I still think of you.

How you liked to turn up the radio and dance.

How different my life is now from the quiet, nurturing, nature-filled days I spent in your presence full of reading, writing, hiking, mate, the great big sky, and gratitude and such. Now I am a social media queen, helping startups do marketing in Tel Aviv - a place so opposite from Patagonia in every possible way you can imagine. I still wonder sometimes what my life would look like or who I would be today if I had never left. It was something I definitely considered. For one thing I bet by now I would know how to ride a horse!

For everything you taught me - and still teach me when I see the updates and photos you post every once in a while on Facebook - I am grateful - like you - that you are alive. Happy birthday dear Ginny and so many more.

Love always
Karen

~~~~~

We the Living

A SMALL NOTE: I wrote this the same night of the accident described below, Ginny and I still high with the cool fact of our survival. 4 days later we are still high with it - even though Ginny has since discovered her $40,000 truck was not insured. Ehem. Still, she's been greeting every morning with "hey baby, we're a walking miracle!" And maybe that's the lesson therein, something to remind myself of every day.

Ginny and CarI had my first car accident today. The car out of control, spinning spinning everywhere then, all of sudden, flipping all the way over just like in the movies, kind of accident. Crushed windshield glass like candy and Ginny and I just dangling there by our seatbelts. Our thank-you-God, lifesaving seatbelts.

 

Ginny’s voice sounds close and calm, but I can’t turn my head around to see her. “Karen, turn off the engine,” she says, it feels like over and over. Yes we had just stopped to fill the tank in Loncupue. I understand what she means but I can’t find the keys, barely know where the steering wheel is at. I also cannot believe we are alive, and Ginny sounds so normal like she’s asking me to roll up the window because the breeze is bothering her. I am shaking and trying to find the keys to turn the engine off, but the space around me is too small to maneuver so I focus on trying to get out of the car instead. Figure that way I can turn around get the keys out, come back around get Ginny out too.

Crawling out is hard, barely manage it through the window because it’s gotten much smaller. But I do, it’s amazing, I’m pulling my body through and nothing even hurts. How is this possible? How is this happening? And I have I killed Ginny?! I’ve definitely fucked up her car. The sun is shiny bright same as it was before we flipped like in the movies. I feel the loose gravel on my palms. The gravel that did this, made the car swerve then swerve again. It’s a long, long gravely road from Loncupue to El Huecu where we were headed to spend Easter weekend at Ginny’s chacra there. I was enjoying the scenery, the vast open Patagonia space, the late afternoon sun on the left side of my face. It was just beginning to set, casting the distant high desert mountains in shades of blue.

I was also focusing really hard on my driving because I’d just learned to drive Ginny’s S10 Chevie truck that morning. Things were going pretty well: I was driving stick! I’d made it this far, driven about an hour from Hotel Oriplata to Loncupue for money and gas, aware the whole time of the Patagonia wind. Now we were close, just another ½ hour or so away. But then the car veered suddenly off the road, and I tried to set it right, then I hit the brakes. Big mistake.

By the time I come around to Ginny’s side of the car, I am weeping. With disbelief, with regret, with shock - though not it seems with pain. Nothing appears to hurt. My sunglasses even appear to still be on my head. And Ginny is there too, by her side of the car, on her back, cell phone in hand. Is she texting someone?! Holy shit. Does this mean she is okay? I think she is laughing. Yes she is laughing. My new 61-year old friend with MS who uses a walker and sometimes a wheelchair and decided to wear her back brace right before we got in the car “just in case” has managed to pull herself out of her window and is lying on her back by the side of the gravel road and she is laughing.

There are any number of reactions one could have when the person they just met and entrusted with their car, totals it and almost kills them both in the process. Ginny’s immediate reaction is gratitude. “Thank god we are okay, can you believe we are okay?? This is the most important thing!!” she keeps asking me, hugging me. Her second reaction is laughter. And triumph. Within just a few moments of our car rolling over and nearly killing us, a few people stop along the side of the road to help us. Together, we collect our things from the car, our backpacks, our groceries. Ginny’s mate set. I’ve found my camera and am taking pictures of the car with it from all angles for the insurance company. For posterity.

Ginny and Car

Then Ginny wants me to take a picture of her. With arms raised in front of her truck like the champion in a boxing ring. Then standing by the passenger side of the car, beaming face poised over the dangling rearview mirror. Then we take one together. By now, I am smiling too.

On the Road with Ginny

Just read that Toronto might reach 35 degrees celcius today. Time to tell you about the 200 kilometres I drove last Friday night in a blinding snowstorm, the first of the season and one of the worst ever in this area. Had to get Ginny to Zapala for emergency dental surgery Saturday morning. Thank Buddha for stick shift four wheel drive or we would not have made it. Cars stranded all over the road. Took us five hours to get here. Though Ginny is recuperating from her 4 hour operation, WE ARE STILL HOLED UP IN A HOTEL IN ZAPALA and, unfortunately, her MS has worsened. The end result is Ginny’s decision not to return to El Huecu but to keep driving south to San Martin de los Andes (where I was headed anyway for a break at month end) where she will spend the rest of winter. We depart Zapala this Friday and will stay in an apartment in San Martin her friend has loaned her located right downtown. We are joined next week by another assistant so I will have time to enjoy the cafes, book stores, art galleries, etc. And reliable internet! Ginny will get her much needed rehab and kinesiology. So, big change of plans…..I’ll miss G’s ranch and horses! But the worst part of winter is yet to come and San Martin is definitely going to be easier on Ginny than El Huecu. We were just discussing how the Chacra would suit her more in summer/fall and San Martin in winter/spring. So I guess I’m a part of this transition. I can definitely live in San Martin for 7 or 8 weeks and depart Patagonia from there instead of El Huecu.

This past week sharing a hotel room with Ginny has been…..ummm enlightening and fun. We first saw the dentist around 8:30pm last Friday and finally got to the hotel close to 10:00 pm. We each crashed on our beds fairly moaning with exhaustion and rested quietly for about 10 minutes. When I opened my eyes to a ruckus on G’s side of the room, there she was struggling with her luggage hauling stuff out all over the floor and her bed. When she saw me, roughly the same time as she pulled a long, gigantic, thick horse rope out of her bag, she quickly assured me: ”don’t worry, I’m not going to hang myself, here, catch this and tie it to your bed!” Turns out this is standard hotel room procedure as G uses the rope to haul herself up out of bed at night. Completely cracked me up….the sight of her was hysterical. We have not stopped laughing all week. She calls me Thelma and I’ve ordered her not to swear before 4:00 pm.

San Martin here we come!

 

A Distinguished Life

We joined Sky, her boyfriend Chano, two volunteers and crusty old gaucho Chipes for a road side lunch when they took a break from herding 200 plus head of cattle over the mountain to Colipilli.

We dined on roasted chicken and flat breads heated over an open fire, salami, cheese and jugs of hot water for endless matē….a perfect afternoon repast. Chipes is retiring after spending his whole life in the mountains of Northern Patagonia. A tough and loyal working man whose very boots personify an intimate portrait of him and his life’s work.

Ginny tired quickly and rested lying on the earth. So good that Chano was there to lift her in and out of the truck. I head to San Martin, a lovely resort town about 285 kilometres south of here on Lake Lacar for a few days of retreat at the end of June. It’s the half-way point of my stay here in Patagonia. Ginny and I have been on our own now for a week and the next assistant is not due till June 20th so I’ll need a few days of pampering by then. Not that I’m roughing it here but there’s something to be said for a good haircut and an occasional massage. Ginny & Sky…

 

 

Rubio Real

There are two wild horses in the back barn who are prepped daily by the gauchos in a side field to determine their racing potential. A few days ago I witnessed the stallion, Rubio Real, given his first run at the ‘racetrack’ in El Huecu. Quick and thrilling. The female will be next, but she’s considered “loco” at this point, very nervous. After the practice race, back in the barn with Jorge, Ginny and Sky.

 

 

A fun morning for sure but I have to tell you that its the dogs who rule in this town. They have an odd confidence, at least to me. There are many and they have the run of the roads playing all day with each other when they’re not herding or occasionally swaggering about, looking for something to do. Maybe I’m just used to city dogs, tagged and always ever so slightly uncomfortable or maybe there’s just no one monitoring them. Quaint little El Huecu is set in a really spectacular part of the world seemingly at odds with the vastness until you understand how much respect these gentle people have for the land and the creatures supporting it and them. How simply and humbly they live every day. Full moon over Patagonia and the roof of The Chacra where I’m staying.

We're heading back home Well the trip is done. 94 days in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. It was an amazing trip. I think I learned more on this trip than previous trips I've taken. It's not so much about the attractions along the way but more about learning about myself. My stay with Ginny on the Chacra was life changing. Not in the way I first thought and not even what I thought when I left the Chacra. It was more about reflection.

Barb

I visited Ginny one last time while in Buenos Aires the day before heading home. She was staying in an apartment with her friend Janice who she has known since they were 10 years old. Also staying with her was Rosa who is one of her care givers at the Chacra in El Huecu. People dedicated to supporting Ginny. Ginny is waiting and hoping for medical treatment to ease the dibilatating pain caused by osteoporosis in her neck and back and also her multiple sclerosis. It's a waiting game.

Slowing down to "smell the roses" is so important. Family, patience, gratitude and empathy. All so very important. Learning this is an ongoing project. I'm learning.....family first. To read more about Barb's time in Argentina click on these links:
Day Trip Out of Time
Some History
Back in Buenos Aires

For more on Barb's time with Ginny click here.

 

 

 

A turning point

By Gin Getz

(photo of me taking photos of this beautiful land, by Golde Wallingford)

A shift in the winds. Perhaps it is the smell of horses. The grounding ritual, if I may be so bold to give it that name, of shoveling manure. The smell of a horse’s neck and soft touch of the silky spot under the mane. Doesn’t matter where you are. That side of the equator or this one. The smell remains the same. It does not bring me back there. But lands me here more solidly. Funny such a simple thing like smell or shoveling can complete you.

Arrived. Adjusting. Settling in. A beautiful world. Beautiful people. Overwhelmed with love and light, tears and laughter, constant noise from early morning roosters to the late night barking of dogs, people buzz about like harmless flies, music, crickets, birds sounding like a pond full of frogs, the pounding of horses feet on packed gravel, and a language I am trying so hard to understand.

At times I am a window, looking out, quietly absorbing, soaking it all in. Let it shine.

And then the gift of rain. Smelling of a different earth. Patagonian soils. Old and rich and proud. Arid mountains, expanding views. Here at the casca, so safely tucked into the trees as a home in winds should be, shading arms enwrapping. Sweet, sweet rain. Cleanse me of the past and pour me into the future as I float on the languid waves of here and now, these rolling hills as big and wide and open as the sea.

Rain, the song as sweet as the smell. Fat, swollen, heavy drops falling by the bucket full, each one dancing to its own wild rhythm upon the metal roof, rolling together to the puddle on the sandy earth just before my dusty boots, kicked out before me as I sit on the stump of wood under the eve just outside my new front door.

How funny to finally check in on the computer and remember back “home” there would be snow. It would be cold. How funny to consider how little time I have looked back. My apologies to those I love. Change is both overwhelming and self absorbing.

If it were easier to post, I would share more with you. The trip, tips on travelling with a dog, beautiful new friends beginning with Barbara in Buenos Aires, and here our dear Ginny, like the sister so many ask if we are, and Golde and Jorge and little Milton who is happy to play with my dog, the horses, the air, the culture, the language, drinking mate and taking siestas (I have learned are the best time for finding a rare moment quiet enough to write). The hardest part is losing my solitude. That is hard indeed for the intentionally lonely soul.

I am not big on looking back, though I want to share stories and details and parts of this story that I think you might enjoy reading. Where does each day go, as we sit down for dinner at the hour I used to turn in to bed?

It will come in time. Patience is the greatest lesson here. At least the most obvious. There are others. There will be more. More important? I try not to judge, only to learn and do.

The internet may or may not be working, and the power outs regularly. A reminder of my adoration of living off grid, and gratitude that we can connect over the internet at all, in Colorado and here in Patagonia.

This is what MS can look like.

To watch Ginny up on the horse today. Exhilarating to see. And to imagine the joy, the cup overflowing within her, being in a place she belongs, comfortably, confidently. Seeing her energy rise. Her posture resume. One could say a queen upon her throne, but without the airs and pretention, and in fact, a most earthy act indeed. The Phoenix with wings which the horse has given to us. Beautiful indeed. An awakening. A slow and gentle healing, if for no longer than the time in a place this woman feels a home, her self. In the saddle. And yet, I feel it is longer lasting than that. There is more. She is brighter, more alive. I see an improvement already in her, and I wonder how far she will progress in this positive directions. I am pushing her. Doing less for her on one hand. Standing up to her (I say with a smile, for we are two strong women that at times will butt heads in the most graceful way, with power and words, as we women are known to do). Forcing her to find more strength within, for I know there is plenty. Challenging her creativity. Encouraging her to walk more. To focus more (how like changing winds she can be). To keep direction and keep it positive and get things done. There is so much to do. I am thinking she should draw. Where is that peach with the leaves? She wanted to draw that. Creativity heals, she says, and she knows.

Enough. For now I sleep. I cannot absorb it all. Sleep allows time and space to soak it in. So here I am, typing away as my sweetie breathes deep and warm in the early stages of the deepest of sleep beside me, and I prepare to close down this fantastic tool called computer, and return to the most primal state I can. Sleep, wrapped around my sweetie.

~

January 2013 My last Ride. Switching to carriages.

July 10, 2012....There is something to be said for Parisian-jailbird-chic and Ginny may have nailed it here, n’est-ce pas? Her delightful new city wardrobe is courtesy of G’s daughter Sky who spends weekdays with us here in San Martin and weekends tending to her cattle, employees and ranches, a mere six hour drive each way.

Sky does the necessary espaﬞnol talking with the therapists and doctors and has also launched her mother on an all organic diet, so cooks up a storm while here. Makes the best turkey soup I’ve ever ‘et! Calls me ‘Thelma” too, just like Ginny. As Sky put it, the name is “so wrong for you, it’s right”. I agree. I call her the gestapo but only behind her back. Seriously, if I could stuff Sky in my suitcase I’d bring her home. Speaking of turkey and wonderful daughters….. I get home a few days before Thanksgiving and can’t wait to spend some long autumn afternoons roaming the Northumberland Hills east of Toronto with my family and friends. I so love being in eastern Canada in the fall. Just about halfway through my five month journey now. I arrived in Argentina to fall and return home to the northern hemisphere for a second fall . Nothing like a little head twisting-axis-rotator-challenge to mix it up. Vamos a ver……

Navidad

Navidad

I just heard Sharon scream. Don’t worry, it’s with a horse. Navidad is half sister to Bienvenita (same father) and both of them hang out with Big Grey right outside Ginny’s bedroom picture window and they’re all visible from the kitchen window as well. They neigh softly through the night. At times it seems like one of them is in my loft it feels that close when all the day sounds are gone. It’s a beautiful sight while waiting for water to boil at the stove every morning particularly with daylight breaking behind them. Navidad is going through chemotherapy right now and can’t be ridden but she’s definitely the feistiest of the three. Ginny told me when I got here that, despite her cancer, Navidad is one nasty horse. She kicks and beats up on Big Grey (who is old) and Bienvenita who is gentle like her mother and has kept Ginny up at night more than once. I kind of kept my distance from her when I first got here. She’s incredibly spirited and communicative and I could not ignore her after a few days. The first photo is Navidad’s right eye, she’s quite the poser. The next is N, Big Grey and Bienvenita. We drove up the mountain today to meet Sky, her boyfriend and another gaucho (from Toronto, female!) with some mate and pastries. They were taking a break while herding baby cattle up to winter pasture. While I was on my knees on the road looking under the truck with Sky at the spare tire one of her dogs literally hugged me. Came up to me as I was crouched and just put her head sideways into my chest, pushed her body into mine and looked up at me. My heart just flipped. We hugged for a few moments.

dreaming in Patagonia...

May 28, 2012...Two days straight now of pounding relentless rain, confining us all to the ranch but so welcome in this drought. Made banana bread yesterday which seemed to disappear almost immediately. The sound of the rain on the roof is near deafening when I’m in my loft but the best part was how sleepy it made me by yesterday afternoon. Slept about 11 hours and woke both refreshed and grateful. I dreamt that I was pregnant and in the dream was truly distressed because I was already raising a twelve year old and wondered why this kept happening to me. I even did the math in my sleep figuring I’d be rather tied down till about 80. Ha! Dreams being sometimes absurd the logistic improbability, if not to say impossibility of it never occurred to me while dozing. It felt good (relieved!) to be alive when I awoke, though begging the question, what now? Indeed. To create, not whom but what. My daughters seem to get it with no help from me, each a gifted artist in her own field with an already significant legacy in film and paintings, respectively. Ginny and I were discussing this very subject this morning. Why women are so eager to self-sacrifice and how we sabotage ourselves sometimes by throwing ourselves into others (men and yes, sometimes children). How very difficult it is to truly “have it all” and not the modern definition of that expression but to nurture our art first, then our children and career. Preparing for the end of the drought….

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