They are, perhaps, the foreigners who best know the country’s secrets. Clarín spoke with some of them to find out how they see us.
Meat, wine, soccer, tango and nature. These are the most immediate and passionate of foreign diplomats with the country. This is how they tell Clarion nine ambassadors who opened the doors of their privacy to show how they have lived since they arrived in these pampas, the way in which they identify with the Argentine culture and what they do in their free time.
For a moment, they accept the proposal to put aside formality to talk about the country with the eyes of foreigners.
The kindness of the Argentines, the constant blue sky and the “European air” that Buenos Aires breathes. Álvaro Pava met with this “postcard” when he arrived at the Colombian embassy in early 2019. And he admits that with the passing of his stay, his experience has become one of the best of his life. To the list, he adds his admiration for the great cultural offer “in every corner of the country” and the gastronomy, “which deserves a separate chapter”.
“The Argentine barbecue is something without equal,” he assures when asked about his favorite dish. For him, roasting is much more than putting portions of meat on the grill: it involves a series of other components that – he maintains – almost elevates it to the ritual level. “It is not only about tasting the meats but also about valuing the wines and, between glass and glass, bite and bite, commenting on the political situation in the country and talking about football”. Delights and meetings that he misses in the midst of this long quarantine, as well as the habit he had incorporated of attending football stadiums and living the passion of the Albiceleste fans from the stands.
So far, he thinks, what has most permeated his memory when traveling through Argentina has been his trip to the Iguazú Falls, a place that he qualifies as one of the most beautiful he has ever visited. From the visit he has the anecdote of not having taken into account the recommendations he received at the hotel to close the windows to avoid the entry of monkeys. “With my wife we left the door ajar so as not to miss the show,” he laughs.
Living with a culture very different from that of Georgia “is no longer a barrier to generating learning.” It is said by Ambassador Irakli Kurashvili, for whom “the very open character of Argentines” is the best in the country. Argentina, she defines, is a warm and welcoming country, which has taught a lesson in its diplomatic mission: “If you focus on values and the things that unite geographically distant peoples, you can achieve many things.”
Among his official trips within the Argentine territory, highlights his visit to Mendoza, in August 2019. “Emotionally, that trip was indelible”, He assures. And he says that he had come to sign a memorandum of cooperation between that province and the Kajeti region, each one as a reference for wine production in their country. “I represented Georgian wine (with more than 8,000 years of history in the practice of viticulture), and after the institutional act we met with the Georgian community that has lived in Mendoza for more than 20 years“.
On another of his business trips, he discovered the Argentine dish that would conquer his palate: the meat pie from Salta, La Linda. “It is a simple, tasty and rich dish that you always feel like, wherever you are”.
But, if there is a habit that he has incorporated since his arrival in Buenos Aires in 2018, it is “The custom of kissing when greeting”. Although Irakli Kurashvili acknowledges that this gesture was petrified by the pandemic, he wishes that soon “let’s hug again”. Her pending subject? Visit the Iguazu Falls.
Music, nature and solidarity. This is how the Hungarian ambassador, Csaba Gelenyi, defines Argentina, a country he arrived in three years ago. “I see a lot of similarities between Hungary and Argentina: in the love of life, the love of freedom, autonomy”, He synthesizes. And he talks about “prominent personalities” of Hungarian nationality who left their mark on this country, such as General János Czetz, first director of the National Military College, and László József Bíró, the inventor of the birome.
For the ambassador, “intellectual sensitivity” and “the essence of homopoliticus” are characteristic of Argentines. He says that he began to understand what Argentina is like thanks to a man from Entre Rios he met in Hungary in the years of his university training. “My old friend César Pellegrini, with whom we taught at the University of Puebla (Mexico), taught me a lot of what I know today“.
Gelenyi also highlights the “natural beauties”, from Iguazú to the Perito Moreno glacier, and from Formosa to Ushuaia: “They are impressive”He says, and his eyes smile. Now he goes for the tango: “Seeing him dance is a sensation that belongs to the porteños and nobody can do it in such a perfect way”. He remembers that in September last year he was able to interrupt a dinner among colleagues to go and discover how the porteños danced tango in the Barrancas de Belgrano roundabout. “I wanted to fulfill the dream of an illustrious violinist from Hungary who had given a concert at the Teatro de 25 de Mayo. At the end of her performance, I took her to Belgrano and she began to cry very discreetly -he relates-. That feeling is incomparable and unrepeatable; only you, the Argentines, or maybe only the porteños know about it … dancing tango is a very, very moving thing”.
His passion for music extends to the 47th prison unit of José León Suarez. There, together with an initiative of the Kodály Association, the method of music theory founded by the Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály is taught. “This allows people without music education in prison to practice music and sing once a week.“, he gets excited.
Before landing in Argentina, Aleksandra Piątkowska’s destination was Chile. For this reason, the Polish ambassador was able to visit the country in tourist way before June 2019, when she was appointed in the country. She still marvels at her Moderna and Art Deco architecture that he encounters daily when touring the city. “A city that is alive no matter the time“, he says.
He has two bus lines that he uses regularly, 93 and 128. When he is not on official missions, he says that he travels in “bondi” to find a direct connection with people. “Everyone walks the street in a messy way but the queue for the bus is sacred. My first few times I felt very cared for by those who traveled with me and, stealthily, they made sure that no one sneaked into the line”, He laughs. He speaks Spanish very well and it is easy for him to understand Buenos Aires.
“When I went to La Bombonera with my husband I was able to interact very well with everyone in the popular one, especially when they asked me about 9 Bayern Munich, which is also Polish. It was a wonderful experience. But one thing made me feel strange: when everyone jumped I thought of the earthquakes in Chile”. Piątkowska is such a fan of football that he likes to sing goals a la “Bambino Pons”.