Roman Malanke

A Week in Buenos Aires

I kept staring at the screen of the in-flight entertainment system. It was showing the map of the world with a little plane that was about to cross the equator line. This was my first time ever entering the southern hemisphere, so I didn’t want to be sleeping during such an important moment. A few hours later I woke up in the sky above Argentina just as the pilots were announcing our descent towards Buenos Aires.

Right on our way from the airport to the hotel we started to appreciate how big the Greater Buenos Aires is. This became truly evident at the very end of our journey when our plane took off late at night and it was dark already. For some good fifteen minutes we were flying over the endless ocean of city lights. That view doesn’t compare with anything I’ve seen, not even New York or Los Angeles.

The first weekend treated us with a drizzling rain, and even though it did prevent us from some of the planned outdoors tourism, I very much enjoyed the city in such weather. First, we played an interesting quest at the Recoleta Cemetery, trying to find masonic symbols among the surreal-looking graves of the famous figures in the history of Argentina. Then we checked out some of the most popular cafés and restaurant, some of which prominent people like Jorge Luis Borges had the habit of visiting. Lastly, one of my colleagues and I went to a true milonga to see how real porteños dance tango. After all this I could clearly see why Buenos Aires is considered to be a fertile ground for creators of all sorts: writers, musicians, designers. The city feels like a nice mix of European cities with just a little bit of American flavor added to it.

The workweek in the local office of GlobalLogic turned out very productive and it was wonderful to be able to meet in person so many people with whom I had interacted only by means of modern audiovisual communications. All Argentinians I met proved to be super nice and easy-going. And I didn’t even notice how quickly I got used to the cheek-kissing salutation.

Evenings after work were the most fun. On three of the nights we went out to dine with local colleagues and tried all possible cuts of the famous Argentinian steaks accompanied by no less famous Malbec wine. And that pair always proved to be thoroughly delicious, while very moderately priced. Desserts were the funny part to me, as every single item featured “dulce de leche”, which most Argentinians turned out to be very proud about. I right away recognized in it the boiled condensed milk so familiar from my Ukrainian childhood. But most local people simply refused to believe that their national dessert could exist anywhere else but Argentina.

But the best dinner by far was in the house of one of our colleagues, who kindly invited us to the traditional Argentinian barbecue party known as “asado”. While observing the host doing his magic at the grill we had some lengthy and interesting conversations about local lifestyle and family traditions. It was nice to learn that so many of our Argentinian colleagues have direct Ukrainian roots and that some of the traditions are still being maintained by younger generations. Generally, Argentina felt very rich culturally because of its people of so many different ancestries mixing traditions together.

One evening we got the chance to experience Argentina’s sport number one by actually playing football with locals. The indoor playing field was concealed by the façade of a typical urban building, and someone who didn’t know about its existence couldn’t ever guess that it was there. The game itself was great: in a true friendship spirit and with the emphasis on techniques and aesthetics rather than on brutal physical force, just as you would expect from the land of Maradona and Messi. We enjoyed the match immensely and I was lucky enough to even score two goals.

With all this excitement a week passed super quickly and on Friday night we thanked our wonderful hosts and headed to the airport. On the way back I had that slight sensation of not having had quite enough, the way it usually happens after experiencing something really nice. And indeed, we saved so many things for the next trip that I’m really looking forward to it. When I go again, I will surely visit other famous places outside of Buenos Aries, such as Mendoza with its wineries, Iguazu Falls in the north, and, of course Patagonia with its Perito Moreno glacier in the south.