He used bags to avoid getting muddy, he wanted to work in a Retiro hotel, but he expected something better: “In Europe I fulfilled more dreams than in 45 years in Argentina”

Childhood in Loma Hermosa, Tres de Febrero, was hard but unforgettable. More than fifty years have passed since those primary school days when Sergio he wrapped his shoes with supermarket bags so as not to get muddy on the dirt roads who passed through their neighborhood of origin. As time passed, the dreams grew, although the paths in an Argentina that was always convulsed narrowed, obscuring their illusions and slowing down their searches.

As a young adult, life found him taking a train to Retiro every day. He got off the car together with the masses, mostly workers and students, he walked the cold platform and framed by that enormous iron structure until he reached the central hall, just as gloomy and with that characteristic strange smell, a mixture of humidity, old iron, sandwiches, coffee, cigarettes and chipá. He was always eager to reach the exit and spot the Sheraton Hotel located a short distance from the station. One day I’m going to work in that hotel, he repeated to himself and then continued walking towards his destination.

But, what was his destiny? That question haunted him until he was 40 years old, when an invitation to visit Italy began, little by little, to offer him some answers.

A postcard from Retirement.

It was the year 2004, Sergio was 42 when, after years of work, routines and effort, boarded a plane to travel to Europe for the first time. It would not be a short stay and, as he flew over the Atlantic, he had the feeling that he had not just faced a momentary adventure, but that, at last, he had set out in search of his destiny.

In that period of his life, Sergio lived with Italian friends with whom he discovered a portion of unforgettable landscapes and lifestyles foreign to Argentine daily life. But also, and despite not being an emigrant at that time, there, in a foreign land, He had to go through the toughest test imposed by being far away: his mother became seriously ill and, fortunately, managed to say goodbye in his last days of life; “Until I came back, my Italian friends were very supportive, they never left me alone,” she recalls.

The return was sad and, from then on, Sergio did not look at Argentina with the same eyes again. His foreign experience and his mourning had transformed him; he was no longer so young, life was one and seemed to slip through his fingers, He had to take action, he told himself, and with the help of his friends he returned to Italy in 2005 to find a way to stay in Europe permanently.

“Having only an Argentine passport, my friends they were advised to hire me as service personnel. In 2006 they presented the pertinent documentation; Meanwhile, I had returned to Argentina to wait”, continues Sergio.

Sergio, in his days in Rome.
Sergio, in his days in Rome.

One great day in April 2007, Sergio received the good news: he had been granted a residence permit to work. In that same April he flew to Italy to leave the known universe of him behind. He was 45 years old.

For the first time in his life, Sergio’s future was uncertain, but bright and hopeful. In Italy he had friends, he had a work permit, and he even had great-great-grandparents from the country and a surname -D’Agostini- that supported him. Sooner or later, after a good documentation search, he could process the passport.

But fate had other cards prepared, which showed Sergio that, once the doors to the new open, the unexpected emerges: The Argentine met a German who lived in Madrid and love was born between them.

“I went to live in Spain in July 2007, our place of residence for the next four years,” says the Argentine. “Then came the marriage proposal and later the idea of make it happen in Germany where, finally, it was a de facto union, since at that time there was no marriage”.

Together with his partner, Sergio lived four years in Spain.
Together with his partner, Sergio lived four years in Spain.

And so they left Spain behind and, once again, Sergio changed his destination. Now it was Berlin’s turn.

They settled in Berlin in September 2011. Something lost in the new context, the city dawned cold, distant and gray before a man who had not hesitated to follow love, but who faced a greater cultural shock than he had experienced in Italy and Spain.

It was with the passage of time that Sergio discovered that behind that first impression a beautiful, liberal and very cosmopolitan capital was hidden. And, as a history lover, he found himself delving into Berlin’s near and remote past, pre- and post-war; so, little by little, he learned to love its streets, its people, its eclectic culture.

The beginnings did not flow as he had hoped. Both he and his life partner believed that, being a couple, processing residence there would be something simple. “Being married to a German man or woman does not immediately give you the right to live in Germany. Everything is more complicated, you have to enter the German bureaucracy, do what is called a family reunification to get the visa and, finally, then try to get the residence permit. To obtain residency, I had to study the language and must stay in the country for three years in order to integrate into the system. After three years came the renewal and, luckily, I obtained the definitive residence”.

At the age of 53, Sergio became a German citizen, a destiny he could never have imagined.
At the age of 53, Sergio became a German citizen, a destiny he could never have imagined.

Some time later, and with the unconditional support of his partner, Sergio decided to aspire to citizenship, where he had to pass more tests and invest more money. By October 2015 and at the age of 53, the man from Loma Hermosa had become an Argentine with German citizenship. For him, without a doubt, an unexpected destiny.

More than a decade and a half has passed since Sergio left Argentina to live on European soil. He was no longer so young when he left his nation behind and yet he feels that time is relative, in a few years he can live longer than in decades of life. His land was left behind in a moment of mourning, and it was friendships and later love that sustained him and helped him achieve his goals.

Today, at 60, he proudly watches the journey of his life, a past full of work and personal challenges and cultural clashes, but that have a positive balance, where love and freedom prevail, as well as the certainty that it is never too late to fulfill wishes.

“In my almost sixteen years in Europe I fulfilled more dreams than in forty-five years in Argentina. Every once in a while I go back to my country, I don’t forget where I come from, Loma Hermosa”, he says with some nostalgia. “There I used to put supermarket bags so as not to get my shoes muddy and today I walk Kurfurstendamm. Before, I used to leave the Retiro station and say: one day I will work at the Sheraton hotel. Today it is not that, but I work at the Sheraton in Berlin”, reveals with a smile.

For Sergio, it was friendships and later love that sustained him and helped him achieve his goals.
For Sergio, it was friendships and later love that sustained him and helped him achieve his goals.

“My path was not easy, but everything can be done if one wants to. I was not a young person when I left, the reality is that with age everything costs more, and declines are suffered a lot, although it is the same negatives that leave you learning. If what you want is a change of life, you have to try it and not stay with the doubt. With my partner we went through several complex moments, such as the COVID crisis (many could not survive living together), but through many more fun things, always together. He is my family.”

“That’s why I try to help those who feel they can’t change their lives,” he continues. “I want to help because support is important. It was my friends who helped me in Europe, as well as in Argentina; They helped me when I was alone and needed to change my life”, concludes.

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Unexpected Destinations is a section that invites us to explore various corners of the planet to broaden our view of the cultures in the world. It proposes delving into the motives, feelings and emotions of those who decide to choose a new path. If you want to share your experience living in distant lands, you can write to Destinos.inesperados2019@gmail.com. This email does NOT provide tourist, labor, or consular information; It is received by the author of the note, not the protagonists. The testimonies narrated for this section are life chronicles that reflect personal perceptions.

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