Thursday, December 29, 2011

Back to the Past

For those of you who read my blog, it is no news that my father was a diplomat. What this means is basically that every couple of years we moved - to another country.

From 1974 to 1978 it was the turn of Argentina, Buenos Aires to be more specific. As soon as we got there I was enrolled into the German school named by the great Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. At that time I had no idea, that the following years would be probably the most important years of my teenage life. But this is not what I want to talk about today.

I left Buenos Aires December 1978, a little after the Soccer World Cup that the Argentineans won. I left behind a bunch of people I call friends, a special friend I called girlfriend, my heart, took with me tons of wonderful memories and the certainty that I would be coming back to visit as often as I could.

Well, it took me 33 years to come back and I could only stay for a few hours, and that, is what I will tell you about now.

The past December 17th was a class reunion to celebrate 30 years of our graduation. It was not the first meeting ex-students organized, but definitely a very memorable one. So, no matter what, I had to be part of it.

The very same day my daughters were having their farewell party at school. Another event I couldn't miss. So I organized myself, made all the necessary arrangements, planed every detail:

09:00 h (Friday) take kids to school for final rehearsal
10:00 h beginning of event
12:00 h end
13:00 h back home for lunch
15:00 h take kids to a friends birthdays party and double check that the mother will pick  
            them up the next day (it was a sleepover)
15:30 h cab to bus station to take the shuttle bus to airport
17:30 h arrive at airport - check in
19:30 h in aircraft departing to Argentina
22:00 h arrive at Aeroparque Airport in Buenos Aires
22:30 h cab to hotel
23:00 h check in at hotel, shower, dinner, get some rest
10:00 h (Saturday) meeting with classmates at school - depart to destination "Party"
19:00 h back to airport - check in
21:30 h in plane back to Rio de Janeiro
01:50 h (Sunday) back home - day over

It would have been a great day, no stress, everything fine ... ... if it wasn't for Murphy!

Things started to get weird the moment I left my kids at their friend's home. Heaven's gates were opened and tons of water pored down on us. Traffic immediately stopped, as usual when it rains in Rio, and there was nowhere to go. If I had decided to swim to the airport, I believe that I would have made it a lot faster. Anyways, I arrived at the airport at exactly 19:00 h, worried that I might not make check in on time, but ... ... Murphy did his job here to. My flight was 2 h delayed.

So I went and had some chicken for dinner, sat in the lobby and watched a movie on my laptop until it was my time to board.

Flight was great, no details other than that we arrived the same 2 hours late in Buenos Aires. No big deal I thought and took a cab to my hotel - I had made my reservation 2 days earlier and so I was set. Stop right there! All set if it wasn't for ... yes, Murphy!

My hotel was actually no hotel at all, it was a pension and at 02 o'clock in the morning it was already locked and no one answered the door anymore. Sh....

Well I thought, on my way we passed a few other hotels in the same area so I decided simply to check into another place ... ... ... No vacancy! None ... at all!!!

It was already 03:00 h, me on the street, nowhere to go other than the school to meet my friends, but still plenty of time to get there. So I started walking.

I walked down Carranza to Av. Sta. Fe, turned left and walked, walked. Sta. Fe changed to Cabildo. When I arrived at Belgrano I got thirsty. So I stopped at some "cage" yes, actually a cage in which was a little shop and a person selling stuff. Sweets, beverages, and other things. I got a bottle of water and since I wasn't so sure I asked for directions to San Isidro. "Well," the lady said "you need to get the 628 bus and ...." - "Nono, I said, I am on food!" 

After she recovered from the shock she tried to explain that it was quite a walk, but I made her understand that I had plenty of time to get there. So, she told me just to keep walking. I'd get there. And so I did.

Nuñes, underneath Av. Gral Paz when Cabildo changed into Av. Maipu, and I kept walking. Passing a few Night Clubs, a lot of drunken people, a few more of them cages with people selling beverages, and so on.

When I got to La Lucila I started feeling my feet. I was wondering how far I got and how far I still had to go. I had no map and no idea where I was. I knew though, I had to go to San Isidro and from there I'd ask my way through. 

It began to clear. Wow I thought, sunrise in Buenos Aires, great! 

One thing I noticed different from a night in Rio de Janeiro. These kids here smoke a hell lot more than our kids in Brazil. And they cry definitely more to. I believe I saw at least half a dozen girls, pretty drunken girls, wining out loud sitting on the sidewalk and their drunken friends standing around bitching about some dude. Not all together but at least one per Night Club I passed. Strange folks here.

Martinez. Finally, I started to remember. I've been here before, I knew that. I stopped at a Fire Station and talked to a fireman standing in front. I asked him for directions and again, well, I explained that I already was walking for so long, I wouldn't matter to keep going for the rest. I am pretty sure that he was very tempted to lock me down and to call a shrink, but ... well. 

Street name changed back to Av. Sta Fe and I was told to walk to Marquez and than turn left and, yeah, take the bus ... but I walked. I walked Marquez to Monroe and than I sat down, the first time after I started my matinee walk, and had a cup of coffee. The worst coffee I ever had in my entire life. It was around 6 o'clock. 

So I walked Monroe to Sucre and than left into Blanco Encalada. Hey!!! Almost there. At a very bad signed intersection though I took the wrong turn. I stood at the wrong side of the highway, walked a few blocks until I finally found someone who pointed me back into the right direction. Soon I found Blanco Encalada again, this time on the right side and, yeah, only somewhat 20 blocks to go.

It was around 08:30 in the morning when I finally arrived. To the very surprise of the doorman, that couldn't actually believe that someone came so early to a meeting scheduled for 10 am. We became friends. Laughed a little over my story, talked about cars. I went to a little mall kind of thing on the other side of the road and had another coffee and a sandwich. 

10:30 the first, well, second one arrived and shortly after the rest of the gang. 

It was a great day. A wonderful reunion. A great feeling to see all these wonderful people again, after so many years. It was worth every single step I made and I’d do it anytime again.
I took my plane back to Brazil at scheduled time. Arrived home tired but very happy. And once again, I left back people I call friends, my heart and took with me tons of new impressions and memories.
By the way, I checked the map. I walked aproximately 21km that night. No wonder my feet hurt!


  1. Hallo Robert, ich habs jetzt mindestens 2x gelesen, jedesmal mit Tränen in den Augen ... Danke, danke für die sehr persönlichen Eindrücke zwischen den Zeilen. Obwohl ich ja nun immer sehr regelmäßig in BA war, habe ich doch dieses Mal vermisst, besonders nach deinem Blog. Viele LG Jörg

  2. habe über Jörg per Skype Kommentar über Deinen Blog bekommen und mal reingeschaut - ich wusste nichts von Deiner nächtlichen Odyssee (Du bist 50 m von mir Zuhause vorbeigelaufen - ich wohne in Martinez nur 50m von der Av. Santa Fe entfernt - da hättest Du mit Sicherheit einen besseren Kaffee bekommen! Und hättest auch im Gästezimmer übernachten können - wenn Du Bescheid gegeben hättest, dass Du zu dem Treffen kommst!). Es war schön, Dich nach so vielen Jahren wieder zu sehen - toll, dass Du diese Mühen für ein paar Stunden auf Dich genommen hast! LG,Carol

  3. Mein lieber Jörg, ich muss Dir sagen, nach so vielen Jahren und doch war Alles noch so vertraut. Das kann nur wirkliche Freundschaft sein. Das allein macht schon das Leben lebenswert. Ich wuensche Dir ein tolles 2012 und hoffe Dich auch irgendwo wieder sehen zu koennen, selbst wenn ich dafuer kilometer weit laufen muss!

  4. Carol, Dich zu treffen und zu sehen das Du Dich überhaupt nicht verändert hast, wow! Noch immer die tolle Frau die Du schon immer warst, und dann in Deinen Augen zu sehen das sich nichts verändert hat an unserer Freundschaft, mein grösstes Geschenk.
    Für Euch sind keine Mühen zu gross. Jederzeit wieder! Die besten Wünsche an Dich und Deine Familie!