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20 January 2022
I happened to stumble across a program by Anthony Bourdain this morning. I used to watch his No Reservations all the time when he was alive. He goes to various places and spends an hour researching the place and its food. Somehow I couldn't watch it after he took his life and so have not seen the reruns (which they still play regularly). Every time I see his friend Eric Ripert, the chef who found his body after he died, I think of Bourdain and feel sad.
But I checked out the show this morning and learned it was coming from Chile. Chile is one of the countries from which we have had guests and so I was curious to see what Bourdain learned.
I discovered that I know pretty much nothing about the country. The head of the Chilean group who stayed in Davis was Juan Ignacio Vergara, a doctor, who later, at the end of his life, was the doctor who took care of former president Augusto Pinochet. I knew, for example, that soccer is the most popular sport, but had no idea that rodeo was the second most popular sport.
The Chileans who visited Davis made a big dinner for all the sponsors, which I can't remember, but learned how to make. Watching Bourdain, I didn't see anything like what they made for us, and didn't recognize the names of any of the famous dishes in Chile.
I'm very sad that I didn't have Funny the World during the 80s because I would love to have diary entries about our foreign guests. But we didn't have internet in the 80s, so no e-mail or journal entries.
I was better about Brasil than I was about Chile. Of the 70 people who lived with us, more of them came from Brasil than from any of the other countries.
Eduardo was the first. He had more hair when he lived here (he celebrated his 22nd birthday here), but he was the first to stay. I had always wanted to get to know a foreign student but didn't think I could keep the house clean for the year that they came for.
But Eduardo came through The Experiment in International Living, where the guests stayed for 3 weeks and I figured I could probably keep the house clean for 3 weeks (I couldn't!). As it turned out, he enjoyed his time here so much he stayed for 5 months, while he worked painting houses and took English classes at the university. He and Ned were such good friends that Ned went to Brasil and lived with Eduardo's family for a year when he was 14. He came home fluent in Portuguese.
Nelson was the next Brasilian to stay with us. He hosted two different groups and is one of the few of the 70 students we have had with us, with whom we are still friends. He has returned to visit us a couple of times.
After Nelson's groups, we had the group from Chile, and then we started having people who were "friends of friends" who came from other countries.
We haven't remained friends with most of them, but the ones who are still are friends are very special.
Sonia came because she was a friend of Nelson's. He gave her our information in case she had a problem while traveling around the country. She did and called me. I ended up driving to Berkeley to get her in the middle of the night and she stayed here in Davis for a few months, during which time she met Charlie, whom she later married. I was their matron of honor.
Charlie is a vintner and they have lived in the Napa Valley, where they raised two kids, for many years.
Facebook has let me reunite with several foreigners I have not seen otherwise, like Fauzi Farah from Morocco, who came here with his brother. I couldn't understand why I couldn't understand their French until he explained that they spoke a mixture of French and Arabic. We saw him later after he married and had kids and I now follow him on Facebook.
Victor, from what was then Congo, showed up for David's funeral. I don't have a clue how he even knew David had died, but they had been good friends while Victor lived here.
In writing this entry, I have realized how many of our guests have remained good friends. I am sorry we have lost contact with the Japanese girls who lived here, but once they marry, I can't reach them because their names are different.
It was really a special, sometimes crazy 10 years when we had all those people flitting in and out, but looking back, the memories are very sweet.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Juan Ignacio Vergara, MD
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This is entry #7971