Every morning there she was. A 4 foot something ball of energy and light. As I enjoyed my breakfast Rachel, the African born hostess and waitress, inadvertently serenaded me with traditional Somalian folk songs and mainstream gospel. In a voice so full of love that one had to listen. She glided across the room as if having not a care in the world. Instantly captivating all who arrived at this wonderful Luxury Boutique hotel with her Cheshire cat smile and passion. This is Rachel, who referred to me as Mr. Erick my entire stay. Waitress at The Aubrey Santiago. Survivor of losing her parents, being kidnapped, war, and sex trafficking.And the most inspiring person I’ve met in my travels.
I was in Santiago on assignment to cover luxury hotels and ski lodges. The Aubrey was a property I looked forward to covering and one who didn’t disappoint. After my first day on property I ran into the owner at breakfast and told him how pleasurable my stay had been. Particularly the staff, whom had no idea who I was or what I was doing. I specifically mentioned Rachel simply because I had NEVER seen someone like her working as a waitress before. It was something about her that just grabbed me. Then the learning process began.
Mark, the owner, said I really should talk to her. She’s an amazing woman. I asked him for permission to do a taped interview and he agreed if she was ok. Rachel was very shy and nervous but agreed and we set it up for the next day. Little did I know I would be having the most interesting, heart breaking, and awe inspiring interviews of my career.
Please take the time to listen to the entire interview. English is her fourth language and it has a bit of background music I tried to clear up. This is her first interview ever but she did great.
I have to thank Rachel for being who she is and inspiring me to strive for more. Her light inspired me to rethink my views on many of the problems plaguing the African still in 2014. I hope that one day I have an ounce of the courage, passion for life, and love that she has. No matter how difficult my life becomes I think back to this special interview and the things Rachel has survived. And living life with a smile on her face and song in her heart. I’m truly humbled to call her a friend.