allá, en la pampa
Vladi and Simon share a room. And they share the computer on which they defuse bombs and build houses. Always in turns, all day long.
Sometimes Vladi approaches me, every time with the same words.
"Allá, en Alemania."
There, in Germany.
Whether there are techno festivals there, in Germany, because they are his biggest dream. With thousands of people, drunk in front of a huge stage. The next day he asks about championships in e-sports, in big arenas. There he could watch others play the games he spends his days with. He's been dreaming of all these things for a long time, and all these things exist, "allá en Alemania." They don't exist in the Pampa.
Other than playing video games and sleeping, there's not much to do in Maria Susana, the village of the brothers. There is a soccer field, an ice cream parlor. And a few teenagers.
They actually want the same things as me and my friends back home.
We all watch the same series on Netflix, listen to the same music. On Instagram, we see the same posts. From Disney- and Tomorrowland, from the same celebrities who made it from the bottom to the top.
They are the dreams of the privileged. Everything seems so incredibly close.
For me, Vladi's dreams are just a train ride and a week's mini-job away.
A trip on summer vacation. For the youth in the pampas, that's light years out.
Simon often talks about his favorite soccer team, Bocas Juniors. He sings the anthem up and down, knows all the players, and banters with his friends who belong to arch-rival River Plate. And he speaks about going to the stadium, to Buenos Aires. There he could roar along to see his idols, almost within reach. But the dream is out of reach. Buenos Aires is far away, and the ticket is too expensive. So he stays in the village and wears his club's jersey in silent fanaticism, almost every day. A boy in the village sells them.
Fake, to be sure, but cheap.
Simon and his friends live in Maria Susana, a village that, according to Wikipedia, has 3478 inhabitants. In the middle of the Argentinian pampas. As the epitome of loneliness, South America's prairie has also become an established term here in Germany.
And Maria Susana seems to be the center of loneliness. There is nothing to do. Far and wide only fields, cows and power poles.
The young people want to leave. And those who can afford it have long since gone to study in Rosario, the only big city far and wide.
It takes four hours by car on the highway. Every Monday, Simon, like many young people from the pampas, takes a coach to the city. There he attends a cooking school. Theoretically, there would be seminars every day, but the university is expensive, as is the journey, and an apartment in Rosario would be even more so.
Simon's parents can only afford Mondays, so Simon only spends one day a week in Rosario, while his brother Vladi stays at home. Until a few years ago, their stepfather was the owner of the only supermarket in the village. When the Argentine peso lost more and more of its value, he could no longer afford the rent and had to sell the supermarket. In the meantime, he is a representative for the shampoo and hair gel brands that used to be on his shelves. Everyone is trying as hard as they can to exchange their money for dollars, every day they get less for this trade.
Meanwhile, the banks only exchange a few dollars a week, that's all they can do. The new owner of the supermarket has to write new price tags more and more often, the exchange rate of the peso plummets and plummets. Again and again there are power failures, sometimes no water in the village.
Simon and his friends try to bridge each day again somehow, but in the end nothing happens. They pass their time with boredom.
They don't lock the front door. When someone comes in, it's usually without a greeting. If one says goodbye then in the knowledge that one meets the next day anyway- just as uncaring and self-evident as the day before.
A month in the village seemed almost endless to me. In my mind I was always already back home. But I had a concrete moment until which I had to pass my time. The others here don't have that. Everything seems trivial, everything exists only to exist. Alone, or together, in the end the teenagers seem to be waiting.
For something to change, for the wake-up call to come, the end of loneliness.
But time stands still in Maria Susana.