As we scavenged for our next venture in the controlled chaos that was Buenos Aires, we were unsuspectingly called over by an older man probably in his 80’s. At this time, the three of us had eaten our breakfast at a French Boulangerie named Cocu with particularly delicious pastries. We, then, strolled through the dense, graffitied edifices in the ‘hipster’ district of Buenos Aires and came to Calle Serrano. No more than a few blocks away from our AirBnB, the unaccompanied stranger must have heard us speaking English… I suppose we generally stood out as foreigners with our cameras and our disoriented looks. Regardless, the man came up from behind us and, in a thick Argentine accent, asked, “Where are you from?” We were surprised when we turned around to see an old but vibrant man walking up to us in a slightly hunched manner with his small roller suitcase. “Los Estados Unidos,” we said uniformly. He proceeded to elaborate on a story of friends and family traveling to the United States. We three listened intently on the corner of Calle Serrano to this man excitedly describing to us about his recent adventures in the States in minimal broken English and Argentine Castellano. He told us his name, “Aaron,” and he told us how travelled with family and friends through Florida, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, Arizona and Utah. After several minutes of conversation, we were then asked to come to his apartment. On a dime, he whirled around and hastily stepped toward the street and left us in a bit of confusion. What exactly did he want? Was he expecting us to follow him into his apartment?
We followed him somewhat reluctantly. Directly across the street was his three story apartment where he normally lived alone. He buzzed the apartment and a few moments later a kind woman opened the door and let us in. The five of us retreated into the building and walked up the stairs to a beautiful contemporary style flat with minimalistic furniture. We sat around a table and were offered food and drinks multiple times. The woman spoke good accented English and we listened to her many stories of traveling to the states to visit her long lost Mormon Missionary friend, Ronald. The hospitality that was given to us was incredible. We let are guards down knowing that these people were no longer strangers, but now friends.
Elsa Noemi Arregihni was the woman’s name. She was gracious and kind. In fact, she asked that we come back and visit her in Mar de Plata, a city just south of Buenos Aires. As our conversation came to an end, she continually told us to come back “home”. She used that word a lot: “home”. Of course, she simply means come back to Argentina and come to my house. I told her that in the future sometime I certainly will come back home. She told us we are always welcome to stay her place. That exchange was particularly amazing. In roughly 30 minutes, we established a firm and mutual friendship and connection with wonderful people from 5900 miles away. I am already looking forward to returning to Argentina. What a beautiful nation.