In the past three months, we were warmly welcomed by so many people, actively supported and lovingly accompanied in all our projects - we just want to say thank you at this point! On the first day that our quarantine was over, we of course immediately set off to visit Marina's family in Quilmes. This is a preface of Buenos Aires, about 30 km outside the city. We had already sent our luggage home the day before by car with Mari's father Ricardo - we started our first journey to Quilmes by public transport: in just under 90 minutes in the subway through the city, by train to Quilmes and by colectivo almost to the front door. Then it was finally time: Mari's mom Marta and her little sister Lucía gave us a warm welcome home. The joy of reunion was of course enormous, after all we had been in Germany for a whole year! After intensive hugs and a tear or two of joy, we first had delicious apple crumble - Lucía's specialty. But not only the two had apparently missed us: The dogs Roby and Simón as well as the three tortoises Francis, Manuel and Legolas also greeted us with great joy - each of them in its own way. Roby, who is almost 15 years old, was then cuddled extensively in the garden, while Simón, as always, preferred to play with the ball and the three tortoises had to find their way back into the fresh air after their winter hibernation. When dad Ricardo came home from work in the evening, we had a toast and the welcome day was perfect with a delicious meal from Marta! On Sunday we had our first Asado 2021, which we had been looking forward to for a long time. Ricardo has built a new grill during the pandemic, which is higher than the whole house. Accordingly, we were excited to see what Marina's older brother Pablo, the asador (grill master) would conjure up on it on this memorable day. The grilled food was already bought the day before at the trusted butcher and traditionally consists of asado meat (beef ribs), vacío (special piece of beef rump), as well as fiery chorizo and dark morcilla sausages. Depending on the taste, there are also parts of pork (especially thin pork belly or ribs). It is served with a variety of salads and bread. Chimichurri, a special barbecue sauce must not be missing. Our asador Pablo left nothing to be desired and prepared for us a fabulous first asado at home. Neighbor Fer(nando) knows about the qualities of the asador and came by to visit us personally and share a bite. His two dogs Cristina and Keyla were unfortunately only allowed to watch enviously from the neighbor's house. Every asado is followed by a proper siesta, which of course we didn't let ourselves miss. In the evening, the boys set off for a Sunday soccer kick with friends in one of the numerous fútbol cages, where they play 5-on-5. A welcome change of pace after the feast. With a little less in the stomach, next time certainly much more successful =)
Our first stay in Quilmes was followed by many visits of one or more days, or even whole weekends. It was a commute between our apartment in the city and Mari's house and, in between, we lost track several times where we had stored what and when we had an appointment where. But thanks to everyone's help, we always got it together quite well. During the whole time we were always spoiled by Marta and Lucía from morning to night, had a 5-star laundry service and were countless times Ricardo's passengers on his way to or from work. Of course, there were many highlights that have remained in our special memories, such as Marta's pijama and slipper surprise for the Argentine "Children's Day", the short bike pick-up trips with her or the nightly curtain sewing action. Then, one day, we prepared our Swabian lunch with Saitenwürstle and Kässpätzle including Kaiserschmarrn afterwards. Another highlight was Pablo's reservation at the brewery restaurant for the legendary 9-minute game between Brazil and Argentina and the Lomito burger evening with him in Quilmes. Lucía's visited us in the city, we had fabulous hamburgers and coctails in the evening and will never forget her massages including laughing attacks. We celebrated her birthday with homemade pizza and strawberry cheese cake. Ricardo offered Marina private driving lessons and his delicious asados included patient instruction up to Christian's asado premiere. Besides asados, rice pan from the grill and Saturday fried fish were his other specialities. Last but not least, we celebrated Marta's birthday with grilled pizza, ice cream cake and the visit of the whole family at home enyoing a lot of delicous homemade food and cakes. But also the many little things, made our stays in Quilmes always very special: shared siestas in the grass, an evening soccer game on TV with a cold beer, watching the turtles eating tomatoes, Roby's nightly calls and Simon's wet good morning greetings in bed and many more. Each time there was so much new to tell, report and laugh about over dinner or mate tea and we always left for the city with full bellies, a huge amount of new energy and a whole lot of love in our luggage - thank you so much for everything, we love you =)
There were also larger excursions with the whole family or at least with parts of it. For example, we spent a day in the Chinese quarter of Buenos Aires with Marina's 11-year-old goddaughter Diame. As an ardent Asia fan, she was completely enthralled by "ramen noodles" in a Japanese restaurant, shopping in one of the packed Chinese stores, and special Chinese sweets, all of which were eaten by the time we got home. Visits are, of course, reciprocal, so one weekend Marina's family visited us and we welcomed them in our apartment in Buenos Aires. Since we caught a sunny day, we spent it almost entirely outside and took them to our favorite park on Regata Lake, where we cozied up with mate and Marina's treats. Afterwards, we strolled through the antique flea market in our neighborhood of Colegiales and to everyone's surprise, no one succumbed to shopping fever, so they went back with many impressions but empty bags to marvel at Messi's first game in a PSG jersey before heading back home. For the birthday of Ricardo's brother-in-law Genaro, we traveled together to Merlo, which lies west of the city gates. Here Genaro lives with Marina's aunt Mary, 86-year-old grandma Irma and his two daughters Laura and Florencia in their house with garden. As soon as we arrived, we were involved in the preparation of the empanada under the guidance of grandma Irma. Her empanadas have the reputation of being the juiciest and tastiest in the family. Meanwhile, the birthday guy didn't miss the chance to indulge in his favorite pastime himself and prepared a sumptuous asado on his day of honor that lacked for nothing. This was accompanied by the delicious empandas from the charcoal oven, which truly lived up to their reputation. The siesta was cancelled this time, but instead lemons were picked, played and painted with the granddaughter Olivia, a final delicious ice cream was eaten, before we went happy and tired back home. Then it was finally time for vacation - unfortunately not for us, but for Marina's parents. They had rented a vacation house at the lagoon of Junín for one week. But to the delight of the parents, the children came to visit over the week-end, just in time for the Argentinean Mother's Day. We took Ruta 7 inland for just under four hours until we turned into the campground of the fishing club and were greeted by Marta's fabulous Milanesa sandwiches. Fortunately, there was virtually nothing going on, so we were able to pitch our tent right on the water. After a short exploratory tour, the extra fishing rod borrowed from neighbor Fer, was unpacked and it was "good catch" time. By sunset, the entire fish population of the lagoon was fed with our bait, but nothing had bitten until the end. The disappointment was quickly forgotten, when a pizzeria in the center of Junín with a mega pizza including six different toppings was waiting for us. Afterwards, we quickly snuggled into our warm sleeping bags in the tent and quickly fell asleep with some youthful music in the background. By 7am we were awake again and were rewarded with a sensational sunrise over the lake. Just as we were about to doze off for a second time at the open tent door with the first rays of sunshine on our faces, we were awakened by wet dog snuffles. The groundskeeper came by with his two dogs to collect the money for the tent - Buenos Dias amigo! Since it was Mother's Day, the campground quickly filled with many day-trippers and by noon numerous asados were sizzling at the grills - including ours from Asador Ricardo. With traditional cumbia sounds of Los Palmeras we made Mama Marta the greatest gift with a joint asado and subsequent family day in the sun, before we left in the evening back to Buenos Aires. A visit to one grandma is naturally followed by a visit to another. So we visited the 94-year-old grandma Fermina in her village San Andrés de Giles, where she lives with her son in a small neat house and is, despite her old age, still, with the support of all, self-sufficient and comfortable. But where one grandma is, the other is not far. So we were surprised that grandma Irma spontaneously took a week's vacation with grandma Fermina and we were able to chat with both of them about God and the world and explain to grandma Fermina her new cell phone, including self-painted instructions - What a joy! Later, Marta's brother Carlos came by and showed us the way to the best baker in the village, who is known for his delicious wood-fired bread - a great souvenir for home. Last but not least, we made a stop on the ranch of the unfortunately already deceased Uncle Beto. Without a key, we jumped over the wooden gate, crossed the imposing driveway and looked around the abandoned base. Everything was still exactly as Marina knew it from her childhood: the old self-built house in which Uncle Beto lived until the end completely without electricity, the landscaped garden, his garage including workshop and the fence of the animals. Time seemed to have stood still here. Overwhelmed and full of childhood memories in the head, we started the journey home to Quilmes, where Lucía was already waiting for us with the dogs.
Not only the reunion with Marina's family was urgently desired, but also her friends wanted to see us all again as soon as possible and we wanted to see them too! So a meeting with the girls in the Park Centenario was quickly agreed, all brought mate tea and thermos with hot water and off we went. Until dusk we spent the whole Saturday chatting about just about everything that has happened in the past 12 months, and after sunset we unceremoniously moved on to a bar, where it went on late into the night with chips and beer despite the frosty temperatures outside. After that we were really up to date again in terms of gossip =) Shortly thereafter, the next highlight was already on the agenda: Nata, Marina's yoga teacher had her birthday. She happened to be in town and so we organized a party at the house of her Venezuelan friends. Later on, more and more friends joined us and people danced in a great atmosphere. Our first party in Buenos Aires! Many more meetings, dinner dates and more or less spontaneous dates followed: Our friend Seba came to visit us in our regular pub "for a beer" and afterwards spent almost the night with us on the couch. Mari met up with her kindergarten friends Paula and Lore and, as luck would have it, met Gisela, her brother Pablo's new girlfriend for the first time; they had arranged to meet in the same café. Mari's best friend Sabri and Nany visited us in Collegiales and we met for several after-work beers with them in San Telmo. With Mariana and Nayla we went to the cinema where, except from an senior lady, we were the only guests in the German movie "Undine". With Marina's colleagues Germán and Neil we met for a bite of Asian street food and for Neil's birthday for a falafel dinner with them and our friend Meru. One of the special highlights was certainly the visit to the "Bomba de Tiempo" - the main event on Monday evenings in Buenos Aires. 14 drummers and a drumgirl delivered a mad show in an open air cultural center, to which we secured tickets with all our friends. With the drumming rhythm in our blood we went afterwards for some snacks and cervezas to our favorite bar "Puerta Roja" in San Telmo - what an evening! The trip to Mari's friend Nayla, who is currently building her own house in the countryside with her boyfriend Leandro, was more relaxed. We arrived with bag and baggage, Leandro conjured up delicious bandiola steaks and choris from the grill, her cuddly pitbul Astor could hardly be stopped from being so happy about so many visitors, and towards the end of the day we explored the area in search of the famous "Arbol de Cristal", which we finally found and which is said to sparkle spectacularly at full moon or starry sky at night. Even in daylight it has a special aura that captivated us before we started our return journey to the city. The crowning finale was our farewell party, to which we invited everyone to the house of Marina's parents in Quilmes, had a great sumernight and grill master Christian prepared besides chorizos for the first time also vegetables on Ricardo's great grill. A successful premiere, which was very well received by the vegetarians. At 5 o'clock in the morning the last guests and we many went dead tired to bed =)