South America Prologue: My Friend Christian

Christian holds his thermos while drinking mate, a daily ritual.

The beginning. In the coming days and weeks I'll start posting stories and photos from my 45 day trip around South America that would take me from the waterfalls of Iguazu, to the southernmost tip of Cape Horn, to the Atacama Desert in Chile, and finally to the Inca trail and Machu Picchu. It was an amazing trip. Truly life changing. And I'm happy to finally share it.


But there is one person I want to talk about before I can get into the trip. Mi amigo Christian. Christian accompanied me throughout the trip (with the exception of Panama), and it's important to know who he is before I can talk about what we experienced together.

Christian and I met in 2007. We were both working as maintenance men for a high rise in Chicago. That means we used to vacuum floors, wash windows, and fix peoples broken sinks. Not glamorous, but it was steady work.

Christian emptying the trash.

When Christian started working at the building we immediately became friends. We'd cover for each other when one of us would screw something up. We'd get hot chocolate for each other on cold days. And generally we got along famously. Christian is Argentinian and maybe a year before that I had been to Buenos Aires. So I was always pressing him for information on his home and what it was like to grow up there. 

He'd tell me stories of Diego Maradona but that he prefers rugby to football. Or that when he was a kid everyone called him flip flop, because of the shoes he was running around in. We'd talk about his family, and how hard it was to be living in the US and only talking to them over the phone. 

When Christian first started at the building he was married, but I soon learned he was going through a divorce. Thanksgiving was coming up, and I couldn't imagine Christian having to be alone for a holiday, even an American one. So my family took him in and we'd spent the next several Thanksgivings, Christmas', birthdays, and any other gatherings, together.


Christian would move on from the job at the building, I would too. He did several other jobs in Chicago. More maintenance and some work for the Anti-Cruelty Society working with animals. He loves animals. But we maintained our friendship. One of his favorite things was to come visit our farm and cut grass with the tractor. Christian has always loved big machines.

Christian mowing the grass at our farm with the tractor. Christian loves big machines.

One more of Christian on the tractor.

In 2012, Christian made the decision to return to Argentina. After nearly 10 years away from his family, it was time to return. I was sad. The night before he left we shared some deep dish pizza, went to the lake and took a picture of his favorite skyline. I dropped him off at the airport in the morning.

Christian with his favorite skyline in the background, just before leaving for Argentina.

Goofing around.

I didn't know under what circumstances I'd see him again. I was working a 9-5 desk job at the time. Feeling low. And one day I decided to quit. And I decided to take a trip, because those always made me feel better. And what better place to go than Argentina to visit my big brother Christian. So we started planning and a short trip turned into a 45 day adventure with one of my best friends.

Christian, I love you.

Stay tuned for the photos and stories from our South American adventure.

Christian tells us what he really thinks.