Where the clouds are birds
| Part 3 | by Bob Matthews
In retrospect, my Argentina experience was different than I imagined it. And it will probably be different for you, too. It’s about more than just volume. It’s a phenomenon. For me, there were so many birds that my need to hunt was totally satiated, and I was overcome by the simple awe of it all. I’ve always wished that I could have seen North America before the human population went out of control . . . to see flocks of passenger pigeons that blocked out the sky and rafts of wintering waterfowl that stretched for miles on end.
What does the future hold for Argentina? I would not be so presumptuous as to even speculate. I just know that it’s there now, and it’s amazing and it’s one of those things that you just have to see and do, simply because it’s there and it would be a shame to miss it.
As for the Estancia Cortaderas, there are none better. Like best quality guns, lodges sometimes achieve a degree of excellence that entitles them to use the term. Like best-quality guns, they are seldom equaled and never excelled. Cortaderas is firmly in that class.
Help for the children
One of the great traditions at Cortaderas is to visit Santa Cecelia’s, the childrens’ home in Hernanderias. Just a few miles from the estancia, it usually houses from 15 to 20 children. Some are orphans. Some were abandoned. Some simply have nowhere else to go.
No child is turned away from Santa Cecelia’s, where Sister Teresa and Sister Valentina and Sister Cecilia keep small bodies and souls together with little more than faith and hope and charity from the visitors and staff at Cortaderas, seasoned with a lot of love and caring. They have no government help, and they live solely on the kindness of strangers.
Before Santa Cecilia’s entered into occupancy, the building and lot were abandoned, but the staff from Cortaderas, from the bird boys to the cooks to the manager, all pitched in, donating money, time and sweat equity to clear the encroaching bush, remove debris from the buildings, paint and rebuild the structures to their current state of livability.
Before we left the States, we drew names from the list of children currently in residence. We were furnished the particulars of each child, so each of us, in our own way could pitch in to help as we saw fit. We all did, and the grins etched on the faces of needful children will never be forgotten. We brought gifts of clothing and school supplies mixed with a smattering of toys, dolls and of course, candy for all.
All of us were touched in some way, and we all carry memories of the children, from the smiling, bright-eyed, brown-haired little girl that I still call “Hollywood” for her winning ways and mile-wide smile, to the sadeyed little fellow who took a shine to Rodney Pilot and remained in his arms for the duration of our visit. And every day, I read the crayoned thank you note from Celia, the shy, slender girl whose name I drew, to bring me back to reality.
Each of us wished to do more, so I decided to do this little sidebar to give our readers a way to help. If half of the people who read this sent a couple of bucks, it would make an enormous difference in the lives of these children, who often don’t know where their next meal will come from.
If you’d like to help a little, you can mail donations in any amount to Hogar Santa Cecilia, P.O. Box 6952, Maryville TN 37802-6952. They’ll get every penny you send.