• Matt & Clo

Out Of Friendship, Episode 1: Ziho and Remie

Clo and I recently met Ziho and Remie in Saltillo, Mexico. We will be featuring the two of them as the individuals in the first episode of a new series we are starting named, "Out Of Friendship". The purpose will be to provide a profile of people who have either been unexpectedly kind towards us, or whom we help out along our travels. We'll provide a brief overview and ask everyone the same four questions.

Clo and I met Ziho and Remie through airbnb. I was going to be spending a month in Saltillo while Clo was in France, and we choose their lodging because of the price, reviews and locations. They also had a secured parking area we could keep Wilbur in for the whole month, which was a big deal for us. On the day of our arrival we were driving up and down the (hopefully correct) street trying to find their home. Apparently we stuck out a little bit, because a truck stopped and a very friendly looking lady asked us if we were Matt and Clo. I guess there weren't too many gringos in a Land Cruiser who lived in the neighborhood.

Ziho introduced her (very pregnant) self and explained which house was theirs. Then she said she was going out for a few errands and we should make ourselves at home. It turned out to be a very accurate example of the generous and welcoming people Ziho and Remie are and how they treated us. In a remarkable coincidence, we also learned they had actually completed the same trip we were planning on just a couple years earlier, so we were able to get loads of very useful information, recommendations and ideas.

Besides being very friendly and helpful, Remie and Ziho (and their adorable daughter, Zia) welcomed me wholeheartedly into their family and circle of friends. I really felt like I was one of their siblings or good friends for years. It was a unique experience to meet people with whom I got along so quickly and well.

Zihomara. 30. Born in Saltillo, lived abroad for about ten years, currently living in Saltillo with husband Remie and daughter Zia.

Q1. What are you most proud of so far in your life?

A1. I'm a proud mother.

Q2. What do you aspire to most in your future?

A2. I hope I can raise good human beings. If I don't manage to "make a difference", I hope they will.

Q3. What is the most memorable and special thing you ever did for a friend?

A3. The trip we made, that we did in Latin America and working with and for people in need. Working for kids who didn't have any possibility of studying or getting in touch with people from other cultures and kind of teaching the what we thought was important for them to know. We did it in a way were we didn't expect anything in return. It doesn't have much to do with friendship but it does have to do with our sense of responsibility and empathy. You know, we assume the responsibility that wasn't directly given to us but that we took as a responsibility because we all one planet and one place with all of these people. We were hoping to make a difference in their lives with our mere actions of being present and doing what we were doing and them seeing we were doing what we were doing without expecting anything in return.

Q4. What is the most memorable and special thing someone ever did for you as a friend?

A4. So when I was living in Lebanon (ed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Lebanon_War) and the war started, one of the diplomats went above and beyond as he was trying to get me out of the country. I was probably one of the first people to leave the country when the war exploded. I assume he did it because it was part of his responsibility and obligations, but lots of politicians have obligations and they don't necessarily do it. He really did whatever what was in his power to get me out.

Another occurrence that really impacted me is during a train ride from Belgium to Luxembourg. I'm not sure why this is always in my memory, but it stays with me all the time. So there's a pass you need to fill in from your departure point to your destination and this is valid all throughout the Belgium territory. I forgot to fill it in, because as usual I was very late and just barely made the train. So I stepped into the train, getting all of my shit out and the controller (ed: conductor) comes and she asks for my ticket. I told her just give me a second, I'm sorry, I haven't filled it in yet. She probably thought I was trying to get away with not paying my ticket or something. But I know, I really know since I am going all across the country, I know that one of you guys would stop and I just had forgotten to fill it out. But she was really very stupid, she was like, "nyah nyah nyah, I'm going to have to fine you and you're going to pay the full price of a new ticket. This is back when I was a poor student, and twenty euros of was a big deal to me. So I was telling her, please don't fine me, I just now got on the train and I will fill out the ticket right away. Please, please, please. But she was really a bitch about it. So this guy who was sitting a couple of places across from me spoke up, and said she had just got in, and to just chill. He said he saw me just get on, and that I wasn't trying to cheat anyone. The controller lady nyah nyah nyah and it wasn't any of his business and it didn't make any difference, I still needed to pay a fine and new ticket. The guy asked how much is the fucking ticket, and the lady said 25 euro. So he said no problem, let me pay it. I told him he really didn't have to do that. He said it's ok, don't worry. I asked for his address, and later I sent him a letter with a small token as a way of thanking him for what he'd done, since he really had no need or reason to do it. I told him I wished there were more people like him in the world who did these sort of very kind things. It makes everyone better.

Remie. 34. Born in Belgium, married and currently living in Saltillo with wife Ziho and daughter Zia.

Q1. What are you most proud of so far in your life?

A1. I guess that I managed to study so much, after conditions didn't look so bright for me. My parents divorced, there were very difficult times and I still chose the difficult path, you could say. I'm very proud of that. I am also very proud that I have a great wife and I always did a lot of efforts to have good relationships with people. I am proud of the fact that I act in a way I believe to be proper and right, and it has been rewarded.

Q2. What do you aspire to most in your future?

A2. My main aspiration is, of course, I would like to be able to give my children a good future. I would also like to achieve dreams that I've always had. Let's say, like have enough money to do things that you like and not that you have to do. We always wanted to do environmental projects and start our own ecological, environmental hostel one day. I really hope we can do that one day. It would be really nice if we could construct it ourselves and do some gardening around, in combination with offering tours and try to help the local communities. I would really like that. There is another thing is my lifelong dream that is to sail the world in a sailboat. I've always wanted to do that, and I hope I can one day.

Q3. What is the most memorable and special thing you ever did for a friend?

A3. I cannot recall a certain, specific event but I always have felt blessed with the friends that I had, even before university. We went traveling together and in fact they are more my brothers than my real brothers are, because we always shared everything. I can tell them basically everything and I know if there is a problem they would be there for me. But I cannot recall a specific event that I would be like, "wow" but they have always been there for me. And I know I don't have to take it for granted. It's a very nice thing.

Q4. What is the most memorable and special thing someone ever did for you as a friend?

A4. This is also difficult if I have to pick one. I think I always have been helping. This question makes me think about my sister, because I always have been like father and brother for my sister. I have always helped her financially but also emotionally with everything we did. I have a very good relationship with her, also because our childhood was not that easy. If I helped someone a lot, the most, it would be here. But in general people can always ask me things. I feel it is an honor when someone asks me for my help. That means that I mean something to them and I can be useful for something. I always feel honored. I am very willing to help generally, especially people that are worth it. I would never hesitate.

#Mexico #OutOfFriendship #Matt


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