Like few others, Juan Manuel Ballestero understands the long trek home. With all flights cancelled to return home in mid-March to Argentina for his father’s 90th birthday, he sailed 85 days across the Atlantic. He loaded his 29-foot sailboat with canned tuna, fruit, and rice and set sail. “I didn’t want to stay like a coward on an island where there were no cases,” Mr. Ballestero told the New York Times. “I wanted to do everything possible to return home. The most important thing for me was to be with my family.”
Seafaring is in his blood. He has been on fishing vessels captained by his father since he was three years old.
In his solitary voyage, Ballestero experienced many difficulties. “On a particularly trying day, he turned to a bottle of whiskey for solace,” reported the Times. “But drinking only increased his anxiety. With his nerves frayed, Mr. Ballestero said he found himself praying and resetting his relationship with God.
“Faith keeps you standing in these situations,” Ballestero said. “I learned about myself; this voyage gave me lots of humility.”
When his spirits were low, Ballestero reports finding solace as a pod of dolphins swam alongside his boat “on and off, for some 2,000 miles,” reported the Times.
After his 85 day expedition, Ballestero received a hero’s welcome in Mar del Plata. “Entering my port where my father had his sailboat, where he taught me so many things and where I learned how to sail and where all this originated, gave me the taste of a mission accomplished,” he said. While he missed his father’s 90th birthday, he made it home to celebrate Father’s Day. “What I lived is a dream,” he said.
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