“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” - The Little Prince
On the 24th of June, 2020, my wife Paz and I welcomed our own little prince into the world. Amaro León Velasco was born at 4.15 AM in the town of San Carlos de Bariloche in Patagonia, Argentina. It was a cold mid-winters night, and Paz laboured for nearly two days before delivering naturally and without any form of pain management. This herculean effort was rewarded with a calm, healthy, beautifully-natured, if slightly solemn, baby boy.
He was born into a world full of promise and change. His childhood will take place in a very different world to mine, but he steps into it with all of the opportunities of the modern world. He will be a truly global citizen; Australian and US on my side, Spanish and Argentinian on Paz’s. We hope that this will help him to understand the truly global nature of the issues that our combined generations must overcome.
Etymologically, Amaro means “the one with the dark skin.” Ironically, my recessive blonde hair and blue eyes ended on top in the genetic lottery and he boasts a shade of skin that could at best be described as ‘translucent.’ In Italian, Amaro means ‘bitter’, but in that language it avoids the negative connotations of the English language version. Synonyms might include ‘unique, unusual or piquant’, and this fascination with all thing bitter is evinced in the Italian love for rocket salads, chinotto and Campari. A fear shared by many cross-cultural parents is one of pronunciation; that the gently rolling Spanish r of Rio will be replaced with the drawn-out Australian a of Monaro. León is a reference to the birthplace of Paz’s mother; the province of Castile and León in North-western Spain. Our family chose to adopt Paz’s last name; Velasco, both as a recognition of Paz’s central role as wife and mother, but also to subtly challenge the extant patriarchal status quo.
In this role, Paz has been exemplary. Faced with the challenging and sometimes thankless task of childrearing on her own, she also has been denied the assistance of family members due to the COVID-19 social distancing requirements currently in place in Argentina. We are lucky to be blessed with a baby that enjoys his sleep, and Paz is well rested, despite the enormity of her duties.
Becoming a new father while stationed on a remote island in the middle of the Southern Ocean was not a position that I took on lightly. A multitude of issues and complications can present themselves and I feel very fortunate that our story is a happy one. Thanks must go out to those responsible for making communications with home seamless; that I may enjoy the moments of joy one feels as a new parent. Also, a big thank you to the team here at Macca for the support, advice and celebration of life. Finally, to my wife Paz, you are doing more than I thought possible, and I appreciate you so much for letting me live these twin dreams together. I promise I’ll change a shipload of nappies when I get home…
Alexander Velasco, Senior Field Training Officer