I believe there is nothing more rewarding than helping others. Doing it selflessly multiplies the level of satisfaction exponentially. Everyone, absolutely everyone, needs help at some point. For this reason, I am particularly excited to have been involved in the ‘Encuentros de Altura’ project, joining CaixaBank, whose agencies network identifies local social organizations needs and supports La Caixa Foundation in its solidarity initiatives by channeling part of their budget. What are the ‘Encuentros de Altura’? Well, an initiative that aims to stimulate and motivate guests of retirement homes, which is one of the priority lines of La Caixa Foundation and of CaixaBank, and even more now in this situation. And also, to recognize the staff working in these centers, who are doing an excellent job in this complicated context. Really, thank you for giving me this gift. I feel privileged.

The pandemic generated by COVID-19 has hit our society hard, but especially our elderly. They are the ones who suffered the most. On the one hand, because they were the most vulnerable and, on the other, because those who live in a retirement home experienced their freedom reduced to the four walls of their rooms. And this is something very difficult. I can’t even imagine what many of them have been through.

When I was offered to spend a few hours chatting with them, I didn’t think it twice. I knew it would be a pleasure and I would learn a lot from all of them. I didn’t know what I could give them in return. What could I teach to people who have lived much longer than I have?  It was me who should have been listening to them. After several meetings I must say my expectations have been greatly exceeded. I am learning infinitely more than I thought and I hope they are enjoying this experience as much as I am.

The ‘Encuentros de Altura’ project aims to take for a while old people to the mountains through anecdotes we tell. Now it’s time to continue being with them, we are blessed to have the technology to be in contact and this “feeling close” has an incredible benefit on their mood. There are testimonies that, without exaggerating, give me goosebumps. One of the elders, a great mountain lover, told me that the best gift he could receive was to listen to me. And another one who, according to what Matia Fundazioa tells me, is usually a lonely person, after listening to me, wanted immediately tell his sister about that experience and asked to repeat the call to show me some of his photos in the mountains. So we can realize how many things can be changed with so little. And I have already told them  I can’t wait to finally meet and I hope also to go together to the mountains.

New technologies allowed people hardened by a thousand battles and me to feel close to each other. So close that, as I said, we got excited in many moments. Many thanks to all these people who decided to share with me one of the most important things in life: time. As I said, I feel very lucky.

Now I’m in a new adventure: trying to climb Manaslu (8,163 meters above sea level) in winter, a challenge never done before. Even so, I keep in touch with them these days. Not directly, but through videos I send them. I tell them about our progress, our afternoons having tea and playing cards, even  about frustrations and bad times we have when things don’t go as planned. We all stumble, no matter how old we are. When I’ll be back I will tell them everything I have experienced, although as before I am pretty sure they will always be the ones who have the most to offer.