After the deep embraces at the airport, plus the 15 hours of flight, the long wait at the airport in Chile, I finally landed in Sydney. Yes, I was already on the other side of the world, where I wanted to be. I arrived with a Working Holiday visa that allowed me to stay there for one year, dragging my suitcase, my dreams and my fears. There I received Argentinian hugs, familiar ones, schnitzel with mashed potatoes, flavours of home on the other side of the globe, so that the landing was not so hard.
A couple of friends, from my life in the Kiwi country, New Zealand, hosted me.Seeing faces from the other side of the world, past stories lived in another country, was so strange and comforting as it shown that these ties go beyond the time spent.Knowing that what you have experienced with some new friends, in countries that are not of one or the other, get you even closer.
And there I arrived, it was even night, in Manly. I had seen it once years before and as it is a magical place I have always said that Manly has something that captures you.I tried to leave several times, to make it easier for me to move around or whatever, but Manly didn’t let me.Someone told me that once you arrive you cannot go away, like if there was a spider web that leaves you stuck and hypnotized on the beach, from which you cannot detach yourself.I could look at the beach from the window. Sharing mates, the typical Argentinian drink, on the sand, looking for a job, start making ties, networks.
Manly is a suburb of the huge and beautiful Sydney, just 20 minutes from the CBD. It’s the meeting point for surf lovers and many Latin people; it is very common to hear speaking Spanish. For many ArgentinianManly became their home. We fill these far places with the habit of getting together, having a barbeque, drinking some mate or fernet, which is always precious.
Going out with the resume on my hand to see from where to start. I didn’t want to work in an office, even if I am graduated and I used to love my profession. I wanted to try something else and see what I wanted to do.
Moving far away means a change of perspective, seeing ourselves with different eyes. Do other tasks, open the mind to new possibilities. It means facing ourselves, put on other clothes, another disguise, go out and win.
The first interviews were the bizarre ones, starting with the one with a girl in her best Barbie style, who was wearing a chewing gum ping dress and asked me to record a video presentation.Then followed a performance for an amusement park doing tricks. This was my first Australian job, at this amusement park under the Harbour Bridge that shines at night. Guiding the kids to the attractions, getting them on the magic carpet, making them understand that they needed to go up one at the time, so that the children waiting in line below didn’t get upset. I had to face my fear of the stage, talking into a microphone, so that the kids raised their arm and legs so that the spinning topdropped them. I had to scan tickets and I was going crazy with sharp children’s songs that repeated again and again without stopping. Then, once finished, I was going to an hotel for one hour, two blocks away from home. It was a family run hotel where I had been adopted. The owner, an Indian lady, made me try everything she cooked as if I was her own granddaughter. When I left she cried.
We lived in the neighbourhood and those who passed through Manly will certainly know Malvern. No one, on the way to the beach, hasn’t at least shared a dinner or used an armchair in that social housing. Sometimes the place was crowded, we were sharing dinners and I was living with men that were more tidy than me. They were challenging me every time that I was leaving things in the wrong place and they were almost “cursing” me if I didn’t raise my feet.
Living in community, changing of bunks and beds every time, faces that left and other that were coming back, sessions of therapy, shared beds, long talks on the balcony. The days on the beach. Friends who, even if we are separated, are always there.
There were some places where I was stopping. During summer, they were my friends from home, the moonshine on Sundays with reaggae music played at “Steyne”, the main pub in the neighbourhood, which is always packed on Mondays when there is a discount. I can assure that in those nights there is more people speaking Spanish than English.
All that happened after an office job doing graphic design, filling my spare time giving away flyers. Living home in the morning wearing sport clothes and transforming myself into a designer in the evening.
Going to the city by ferry, to do some shopping. Staying with the mouth open like the first time admiring the Opera House, even more at the sunset. The sky didn’t look real, but more like a postcard. And then the Harbour Bridge, the shiny Opera House, the little bars at The Rocks.
Celebrating my birthdays, in May, with fantastic lights, when “Vivid Sydney” is on. It is an open air festival where different buildings of the city are illuminated, with spectacular projections. I tried to take good pictures but I have never succeeded. I was lucky enough to see it twice and it has always been fantastic.
In a certain way, Manly is my home and there were those places where I always used to go and I always knew how to get there, I didn’t need to use Google maps. Feeling at home, that simple smell of Manly, the mixture of the aromas of the restaurants of the Corso, with the pines along the beach, the colours of the sea, the taste of home. A little piece of myself knew that I will have left those streets.
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