Mercedes Ninci and her new love: “she recites Neruda to me on WhatsApp when I am in a court of Pueyrredón Bridge”

December 8, 2021

Mercedes Ninci and her boyfriend, Alberto Curi, at the Los Cardones peña on Balcarce street, in Salta

I fell in love before I met him. His sister Belén, with whom we always saw each other at her rock in Palermo Hollywood, spoke to me with pride about Alberto. He told me that he had had skin cancer, then bone necrosis in his knees and feet, he had been in a wheelchair for two years and one day he got up to climb Aconcagua and then he continued to the top of the highest mountains in the world. I had no chance of finding him because he was in Salta and I suppose with little desire to come to Buenos Aires, where he had undergone several very traumatic treatments. Since I found out about that story in January 2017, I started dreaming of seeing it. But everything was difficult. He invited me to his birthdays in February in Salta, but that month is sacred to our family. Every year we get together at our house in Dolores in San Esteban, Córdoba, to spend the holidays together. At the beginning of 2020 Belén tells me to go to the peña because Alberto had traveled to Buenos Aires to do a writing course. When I saw it, my heart trembled like never before. We saw each other for three days, then he went to Salta and the pandemic arrived. During the quarantine we always talked. So he was telling me in sections his entire story, so dramatic and resilient at the same time.

The journalist and her boyfriend, who has a particular story of resilience, on a trip through Salta
The journalist and her boyfriend, who has a particular story of resilience, on a trip through Salta

“I was devastated, you couldn’t reach a diagnosis. So every day that I opened my eyes, first I moved my hands, my face, my feet to see if I was mobile, if something else had died. It was a daily fight and I thanked God for continuing to fight it. It was the day to day, hour to hour, second to second, with an unknown life. My life was spent on crutches and a wheelchair. One day the TV was on at my house, without seeing why I was depressed, anguished and a news item about Aconcagua came out. When I saw Aconcagua I knew that this was my epic. I don’t know what they were talking about but I was mesmerized by that mountain and I knew that Aconcagua was going to give me back my life, my confidence. I imagined that it was already at its peak and that day I decided to climb it “, All that he told me.

Alberto had no mountaineering friends, he had never climbed a mountain, he suffers from vertigo, he really had a panic at altitude and little tolerance for cold. His family told him that he was crazy, or more than crazy, because he had not walked for two years. But he had the decision made. “I returned to Buenos Aires, I saw the doctor and she gave me authorization. I went online, I looked for an expedition, I hired it, I had six months to go, but I had not walked for two years. I was all stunted. Imagine my little legs were all skinny, I didn’t have a single muscle. I couldn’t bend over. I found myself a personal trainer and started going to the gym. Imagine that it was not enough, and so I went to Aconcagua. I joined an expedition and that adventure began. Every step I took led me to an unknown and strange world. And when we got to the Provincial Park and I saw the image of the blind mountain in the background, it was the same that I had seen on television and there I was certain that Aconcagua was going to allow me to climb. He was sure, apart from that it was a necessity to reach the summit. Of the 9 that we were, only two arrived. Being two hours from the summit, I was exhausted. We ate peanuts and drank 6 liters of juice. At one point the guide tells us’ we have been on the mountain for 14 days, the body is broken, there is no physique, there are no longer legs, there are no lungs, from now on there is only head and heart, heart and head. Come on, the summit awaits us! ‘ At that moment, that pain that I suffered for two years was transformed into energy and thus I reached the top. I still feel the noise of the crampons on the bare stones, it was the symphony! I would not stop crying, because it was an outlet for so much pain that had happened, I was happy, I felt that I was with God, “he recalls.

Alberto Curi, Mercedes Ninci's boyfriend, on the Aconcagua summit
Alberto Curi, Mercedes Ninci’s boyfriend, on the Aconcagua summit

After Aconcagua came Kilimanjaro, in Africa. “I left without training because I had injured a muscle” and something novel happened to me. My mountain clothes did not arrive in Tanzania, the suitcase remained in Kenya. TI had to go up with a finite summer treeking pants, some city shoes, the guide lent me a jacket, a backpack, gloves and a balaclava. It was 7 days and from the second until we went down I was wet because it rained every day, snow fell, hail and I had no clothes to protect myself or to change. That’s how I reached the summit, walking all night, with a wind that hurt me, and with hypothermia ”. Despite everything, Alberto has the best of memories. “They are the most beautiful people I have ever met, the one from Kilimanjaro, they are wonderful. They are poor, but happy, they sing, they are happy, they are happy ”, he gets emotional. There he met three Argentines and they set out to climb the 7 highest peaks in the world on the 5 continents, plus the highest mountain in North America, Mount Denali in Alaska (the coldest in the world), and the Vinson Massif, the roof of Antarctica.

After Kilimanjaro he climbed Mount Elbrus in Russia, the highest mountain in Europe. “Difficult, all ice, very cold. We reached the summit with a wind of 80 km per hour and 30 degrees below zero. We were attached to the safety rope and an American fell and was left hanging and survived, but we reached the top ”, he says in pain.

Curi on Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa
Curi on Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa

Alberto kept looking for adventure, and then climbed the 5 highest mountains in Mexico in 16 days: The Nevado de Toluca, La Malinche, The Sleeping Woman, the Popocatptl volcano and the Pico de Orizaba. Within a few months he had everything ready to climb Denaris, and then Everest. But the pandemic thwarted everything for a time. In March of next year, he plans to travel to Turkey to climb Mount Ararat where Noah’s Ark rested. after the flood and then Mount Davaman in Iran, the highest volcano in Asia. And in June, he would travel with another expedition to Alaska.

With Alberto we are so different and so equal at the same time. I enjoy the danger of the city, (the more trouble the more I like the note), he instead loves the risk that the fury of nature can bring him. Alberto, when he is not on an expedition, lives with the rhythm of the legüero hype of his rock. Me, with the noise of the hype of the street protest.

Curi also reached the summit of Mount Elbrus, at 5642 meters
Curi also reached the summit of Mount Elbrus, at 5642 meters

I do not speak with him about the economy, the pickets, politics, or Comodoro Py. His themes are the mountains, the landscape, the northern lights, the depths of the Amazon where he went many times with his brothers, the river, the trees, the wild animals.

I always liked men who ride horses, much more than those who pick me up with an imported car. I enjoy the shade of an aguaribay in a small town square more than being sheltered under an umbrella in Punta del Este. Maybe because the happiest moments in life were when I was in the field, and His company takes me back to that part of my childhood with so much light. I love going to his peña on Balcarce street in Salta, perhaps because the sound of the chacarera and the singing of the violin remind me of the guitar playing that my grandmother Mercedes used to do in the immense gallery of Dolores.

The couple, in front of a Salta Church
The couple, in front of a Salta Church

He also loves poetry and What better way than to be in the Puente Pueyrredón court with the picketers and the prefecture, and have someone recite a Neruda poem for you on WhatsApp.

I am a permanent news seeker, a 24-hour journalist and I can’t stop working. I have 4 divine children and a passion for journalism that remains intact, like when I was 20 years old. Today I feel that Alberto is the best thing that could happen to me to disconnect at least for a few hours from the maelstrom, even if it always finds, in the most remote valley that we travel, some scoop, because there is always news everywhere.


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