"Interculturality is about understanding the other's way of thinking."01 August 2019
"This visit left a special, indefinable impression on me, this "estancia" (farm in the pampas) was not like the others. I told Michel about it, he told me he felt the same way. There was a warm radiance from this place despite the deteriorating conditions of the facilities..."
It was a coup de coeur with Patagonia. From Belgium to Southern Patagonia at the foot of the Andes (Southern Argentina), a young Belgian woman decides to change her life after finding a very special place and a lifestyle that makes her happy and alive. She starts there, with her husband Michel, a life of dreams... and challenges. They will be the pioneers of eco-tourism and agro-tourism in Patagonia.
Géraldine - Spanish and French trainer at the CLL since 2006 - has decided to tell her story in the form of a book Patagonie, tutoyer l'infini. A tribute to her husband but above all a statement: "You have the right to dream and you have the right to make your dreams come true". It encourages young people to realize their dreams "because you only live once".
Protecting our natural resources
She also thinks that her experience may be of interest to "people who want a return to nature", especially at this time of reflection on the environment and the need to protect our natural resources.
One need only read a passage from the book to realize the enormous difficulties encountered by the protagonists (Géraldine and her husband) in the 1990s when they opened an Estancia, a domain, for tourism - with a lodge, restaurant and ecological small fruit plantation - in a semi-desert region with extreme weather.
These are not only logistical difficulties (provision of water and food, construction of huts for adventurous clients, "struggle" to tame the elements of Nature), but also the cultural differences that must be overcome to adapt to a new country and a new mentality.
Latin American culture
It is precisely her deep knowledge of Latin American culture that allows her to pass on her experience to her students in Spanish, and also to carry out intercultural coaching work with all those who wish to travel or start a new life in South America.
Her main advice: "When you settle in a country, you must be aware of your own culture in order to be able to decipher and integrate the codes of the host country". "Interculturality is about understanding the mentality of the other, otherwise you risk missing out on a unique experience," explains Géraldine at the end of our discussion.
Patagonia, tutoyer l'infini, by Géraldine des Cressonnières published by L'Harmattan.