If you read this, there probably won’t be any pictures added yet, since I’m a bit in a hurry. I will add pictures and correct writing mistakes, when I get back from my trip to Patagonia, the south of Argentina!
On Tuesday, the 6th of September 2016, I was supposed to leave Germany. The flight took off in the evening but the day itself was pretty stressful. Like I mentioned in the last post, I was literally packing my things until the last few minutes before leaving. At least once or twice I ran back into the house to get one or two more things, I had forgotten or which suddenly seemed more important than a few hours before.
My family and my closest friends brought me to the airport. I was so happy that I would finally go to South America, but at the same moment so sad that I wouldn’t be able to see all of these familiar faces for a very long time.
One of the cool things was, that I finally met Leon and Svenja, two German volunteers, just like me, with whom I would spend the next year, experiencing everything Argentina and San Marcos would have to offer. I already knew Doreen from the seminar in Berlin.
After we dropped off our baggage, we spent some time in Starbucks, and then it was finally time to say “Good bye!”.
The first of the two flights took us to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Unfortunately, the four of us weren’t able to sit together, so I sat next to Doreen, killing those 12 hours either talking to Doreen, watching movies (Batman vs Superman, the new X-Men movie, and Dodgeball) or sleeping. Having spent only two to three hours on the latter. In Sao Paulo, we had a three hour layover, which we four used to get to know each other more. The second flight took us from Sao Paulo to Córdoba, Argentina. I was so tired, I got into that plane, closed my eyes, and didn’t wake up until we landed. Leon told me my head had been hanging in the middle of the aisle most of the time.
In Córdoba, we found out that Leon’s bag, unlike us and the other bags, hadn’t really been that excited about going to Argentina. So, after he managed to find out what he was supposed to do about his missing bag, we finally met Julio and Patri, the owner of the Hogar and his wife, who picked us up from the airport.
We were all really looking forward to arriving at the children’s home, knowing that it would be at least a three hour drive to San Marcos from Córdoba. But things didn’t turn out like we expected. First of all, Julio wanted to take us to the center of Córdoba, to eat something. We ate Lomitos, which was reaaaaaaaally good!!! Imagine a sub from Subway but three times the size with french fries on the side. Afterwards, they took us to a meeting of social organizations, which they had to attend, which took about two hours. The four of us were the only ones wearing t-shirts. In September, it’s still winter in Argentina, so everybody was wrapped in these thick jackets. But compared to German weather it was quite alright outside, so we were fine. Then, we stopped by a supermarket to get pillows, etc. for our rooms. It was about 7 PM, the time we finally left Córdoba. 11PM in Germany. Way more than 24 hours without a shower or a bed.
Like I said, the ride to San Marcos took about three hours. We talked quite a bit. The sun was already going down a few minutes after we left Córdoba. Again, because it was still/already winter. Julio was talking a lot on the phone. Argentinian Spanish is quite different compared to “normal Spanish”, which you learn in school. I tried listening what he was talking about, but he was talking really quick and has a strong accent, hardly pronouncing the letter “s” for example. So words like “mismo”, which means “same” become “mimo” or “mi-h-mo”. That’s what I immediately recognized, which I today, after 6 months, don’t notice at all anymore because I’m already so used to the accents the people have. When we saw the first peace signs carved into trees and the road turned into an uncomfortable dirt road, we knew that we were almost there.
When we arrived at the children’s home, seven freaking dogs were the first ones to welcome us. Until this day they still hold the number one spot for the most annoying thing there is in San Marcos! After we unloaded all of our suitcases and backpacks, we found about 20 kids still up, who’ve been waiting for us, watching TV. They were quiet, examining us, not saying anything. The only one of them, who was overly excited, was Fabian, who’s still here with us today, and maybe a few of the little girls. Other than that, there was a little baby crying, Ludmila, carried by her mom, Carla, a 16-year-old girl. Yep …
After saying “hi” to the kids, we were being shown our rooms. They are right next to the “Salón”, a huge room, more or less, where the kids always play and scream, watch TV, etc. And the rooms are really small. Leon and I shared a room, which is about four to five square meters big. Leon was kind of shocked for a few minutes. I guess, I knew that it would be that way, so I didn’t really think, that it’s that big of a problem.
Being as tired as never before, Patri still wanted to show us everything the Hogar has to offer. She showed us all of the buildings, we got to meet her son, and we met the other married couples, who work there. They were extremely happy, that we eat meet, compared to Laura and Sarah, the two German volunteers before us. But, all in all, we were just too tired from the trip to process all this new information, the reason we were more than happy to finally be able to go to bed and get a good night of sleep.
The next day, after eight or nine hours of snoring, I got up and took a shower. The water was freeeeeeeeezing. And with freezing I don’t mean it wasn’t warm. No, it was freezing! It was so cold, that my head hurt from washing my hair. You know, I really enjoy warm showers, so I thought, “Oh my God, this year is gonna be pretty intense, man …”. And I started thinking of all the positive benefits cold showers have, secretly hating them. Luckily, later in the day, I found out, that the Hogar was having problems with the hot water that day, and that normally hot water, indeed, does exist, which probably saved my entire year.
The first few days we didn’t have to work. Of course, being new to the environment, we already played with the kids and everything. We walked down town, discovering the famous “Hippy town of Argentina”. More about that in a few years in the next post. Other than that, we had to get ourselves registered on quite a few websites for our organization, Via.ev, which was the first experience with the ridiculously slow Internet in San Marcos.
On Monday, the next week we started working. Ten days straight, during the week from 7 AM to 9 PM, on the weekends from 9 AM to 10 PM, with a two hour “siesta” from 2PM to 4PM. This was called the “getting to know everything” phase. Towards the end, it really got quite intense. Usually, we slept in our siestas. And I, unlike the others, didn’t go to bed immediately after work because I was trying to get this blog online with the awesome Internet the Hogar has to offer, only leaving me about six or less hours of sleep.
After those ten days, we took our first day off. Facundo, Patri’s son, drove us to the “Rio Quilpo”, a river two miles from San Marcos. You’ll see it in the video I put on the home page! We mostly played cards and talked. The weather was still too cold to enjoy the water. It’s a really beautiful place! We came back on the back of a pickup truck, who offered us a ride. When we arrived, there was a new girl, Kati, 14 years old. Since she was the first new kid in the Hogar, it was quite exciting for the four of us. Well, we found out, she had already been in the Hogar a few months before. She was sent back to her mom, and now she was back again, pregnant. Yep …
That were the first two weeks in Argentina!
I hope you enjoyed reading and are all having a good time at home or wherever you are right now. Next post will be coming after my trip to Patagonia!