Travelogue #1 – Exploring Buenos Aires with Felix

After two movies and eight hours sleep in the airplane Buenos Aires welcomes me with rainy weather and cold 12 degrees. I had imagined South America to be different somehow. Bruno, an old school friend of Ricardo’s, collects me at the airport and we set off for Pilar in his taxi. My task here in Argentina is to support the Martinez family in the construction of Rio de Janeiro in scale 1:87. For me this means that I have to design the small streets and stairs in the districts of Santa Teresa and the Lower Neighberhood. I will also plaster some test rocks to practice greening with my local colleagues.

We fight our way through the chaotic traffic, and Bruno assures me that it will work out quite well today because we drive out of the city and not in like all the other commuters. While small-talking I get distracted again and again by the passing motorcycles, which fight their way through the traffic jam. After 30 minutes drive and nice conversations about the political situation, German colonies and much more Bruno tells me that now on the right side of the Pan-American Highway the city is located and on the left side the province begins – for me it is hard to understand because everything looks the same. After about an hour drive, passing several houses, shopping malls and factories, we reach the house and the workshop of the family in Villa Rosa, Pilar.

The big heavy gate of the entrance opens and I am warmly welcomed by Ricardo, his family and six dogs. The atmosphere is cheerful and warm. After I put on a second sweater and woolen cap and was smothered with kisses from all sides, Peter leads me through the workshops and shows me everything. On the first day I start plastering some test rocks so that we can practice greening the next days. It is incredibly cold and stops raining for the next five days for one hour at the most.

The first days fly by and I learn to find my way around the premises and can refresh my Spanish with my Argentine colleagues. We joke around and have fun. The first weekend I spend with the Martinez family, Zulema made delicious meals and I get to know various card games with one or the other Fernet.

The second week rushes even faster than the first. I almost feel like an Argentinean myself. After work we go out to eat burgers and play Jenga. I make also funny experiences with the local taxi drivers: While chatting a driver forgot to take the exit. Not a problem for him, he stopped promptly at the next entrance on the highway and drove it backwards out. A situation which one would probably not experience in Germany.

On the second weekend we are finally lucky with the weather and I have the chance to visit Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, together with Peter and Gabriela. This time the city welcomes me with 18 degrees and sunshine. At my request we visit a bonsai shop in Villa Crespo. I buy two bowls of an Argentinean potter, afterwards we made our way to the Botanical Garden, which is wonderfully green despite the winter.

After a pizza snack we continued on a six-lane street into the Japanese Garden, past several skyscrapers decorated with air conditioning and cables. In the evening we drove with the Subte towards Porto Madero, the harbour city of Buenos Aires. After some sightseeing we made our way to the district “San Telmo” where we drank a Fernet at the oldest pub of the city “El Federal” and ate fries with cheddar.

Surrounded by the old colonial-style houses, I was able to breathe in some of the city flair that is omnipresent in this city. On my wish we continued by bus to the “Casa Rosada” and then by foot to the obelisk at the “Av. De 9 Julio” where in front of us there was a huge roadblock and thousands of people who danced and celebrated to “La noche de la musica” on the street. When everything was over we drove by car into the “San Isidro” located in the north where we let the evening end with a snack. Buenos Aires is definitely worth a trip, but I can only guess what this city has to offer – one day was not enough to discover it all.

Sunday welcomes us again with a lot of fog and gloomy weather. According to Peter the perfect day to make a trip to the nearby nature reserve. The local ranger asks us if we have seen any squirrels, because they do not belong here and are a great threat to the local flora and fauna. Armed with rubber boots and chest waders we fight our way through the completely flooded nature for about two hours. It was a huge pleasure.

The last days are coming up and I finish all my started work and create more test areas with Juan and Jimmy. On the penultimate day I am really overcome by melancholy, because I know that my time here is coming to an end. The colleagues and the family are so kind to me and we have a lot of fun singing the commercial of a local mattress manufacturer. On the last day Peter and Gaby pick me up at the hotel and we drive to a baker who makes especially good “Facturas” and I buy two dozen to thank them all for the nice time. I quickly color a rock and then Bruno, my driver, stands in front of the gate again. I say goodbye and we take another group photo. On the way to the airport I tell Bruno all that I wrote, but despite my melancholy I am very happy to see my daughter and my wife again soon. It was a really nice time.

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