Emiliano Seco Valderramas and Anahí Varela are a traveling couple from Catamarca. While they were on the plane to Europe, the borders were closed due to the start of the pandemic and they were one of the last flights to enter the continent when the isolation measures began, at the beginning of 2020.
In San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca Emiliano, 33, worked as a physical trainer and sports trainer. Anahí, 32, ran a shoe store business and graduated as a lawyer.
Since they met they talked about their dreams. They both wanted to travel and see the world. Shortly after dating, they began to project and investigate what the options were to do it in the long term.
“We met in Catamarca, it’s funny how it all started. One of my best friends went to pick quinces at her country house in El Rodeo. There I first met her parents, who kindly invited us to eat, ”recalls Emiliano.
When Anahí saw on Instagram the story of Emi capturing quinces in her garden – she followed him but they didn’t know each other – it caught her attention. “Who is this hottie who is stealing quinces from my house?” I thought. He had felt the same attraction from her, so he devised a plan to meet her. “The following week we returned kindnesses by inviting them to eat with us and in this second meeting Anahí was there. Either that I met my in-laws first and then her“, Serie.
At the time of being in a couple, they got married and proposed to embark on a trip together. But the savings were enough for the passage and some short time. “We had no intention of emigrating because in Argentina we were not doing so badly, but since we were thinking of working to pay for the trip, we began to investigate what options there were to be able to stay legally, narrates Emi.
That was how they found the possibility of asking a work visa for Germany. It is an option for Argentines up to thirty years old, with a cost of eighty-five euros and proof of bank funds, as a requirement. “There is a lot of demand and every year it becomes more difficult to get a shift to be able to apply for this visa. We got the turn in November 2019 to go to Buenos Aires to present the documentation in January. Since we are from Catamarca, they didn’t make us wait and the next day they put the visa in our passport,” Anahí details. “It was two months before the pandemic was declared. We traveled to Copenhagen on March 11 and we already landed in an empty city. When we arrived and saw the emails, we found that shifts had been canceled for other procedures that we planned to do in order to travel and work in Europe”, he recalls.
At first the panorama filled them with uncertainty and fear that their savings will run out too soon. “From Copenhagen we went to Berlin where we immediately found accommodation, but the first month was still chaotic,” says Anahí. Within a month of arriving they were able to get to work and begin to fulfill the plan.
At first adapting to the way of looking for work was a bit difficult. The interviews were all online but the fact that they spoke English made the challenge easier for them. “In Berlin a lot of English is spoken, with that you manage well even if you don’t know much German,” says Emi. The first place was achieved in a flower greenhouse, on the border with Holland. “It is a process that involves a lot of technology and we had to assemble seedlings from seeds produced in the laboratory. Perfect flowers came out, strong, with rosy colors”, says Ani. “We did work that we hadn’t done before in Argentina, so it was all new experiences. After the flower factory we worked in an ice cream parlor, in delivery and now we are working in the hotel industry”, she summarizes.
To tell what they are doing a year ago they created Travel Vamos an Instagram account. There they go recounting their experiences and try to help others who dream of traveling. “We were also on the other side looking for the way back to go on a trip, that’s why we really like that back and forth of questions and respond by sharing what we learned.” At the moment the account is not profitable, they do everything for free and have fun uploading content and helping others with information.
Two months ago, with a view to the boreal summer and the holiday season, they decided to try their luck in the hotel business. So, in their free time they began to distribute resumes on hotel pages not only in Germany but also in other countries.. In one week they had fourteen interviews and were surprised to see that after finishing each one they received the proposal by mail: “This is your contract, send me an answer as soon as possible”. They could not believe it. They found that a lot of labor is needed after the pandemic. Many people who worked in hotels and gastronomy specialized in other areas and now there is a great labor shortage.
“Here in Europe tourism this year is exploited, you go walking and you see in all the little bars posters looking for waiters and these types of unskilled jobs are plenty. In an interview they even offered me to put up the amount to decide to go from another company and go with them”, says Emi.
What do recruiters ask them, how do they “sell” themselves, how do they manage to get jobs together. How is the payment, is it enough to save? tips? How is the treatment in the jobs they get?
“We wanted to change jobs because we weren’t comfortable with the number of hours we work each day. We focus only on hotel options that offer us accommodation, so we got down to work with the search through internet pages, looking for hotels in certain areas and with the famous word of mouth that a friend passes you. We agreed to do 17 interviews between hotels in Germany and Norway. We got to do 14, all by video call, we tried to be relaxed and tell the truth that we were going to continue doing other interviews as well. We were surprised how day by day, we were staying in all of them, because later the work contracts came to us to sign or they contacted us to confirm. We did not expect so many answers so it was partly difficult to make a decision about so many options.; it was also difficult to refuse, it is also not so normal for us to say no to so many job offers. We finally opted for a different option: a resort on a small island in northern Germany.
“The best thing is the saving power that comes with any job and how easy it is to get it. Of course, in order to be able to enjoy three long months without working, it is important to take care of your expenses and know how to manage yourself”, recommends Emi. Anahí highlights as positive the experience of socializing with people from all over the world. “The best thing about these types of jobs, which are unskilled and temporary, are the people we get to know, Latinos and from other corners. We love to share talks and learn from their culture and they from ours”, says Anahí. That and the pay make up for the discomfort of the physical exertion some tasks require. “We know that we are unskilled labor but, in our case, since we do it for a short time and we rotate a lot of work, we face it with enthusiasm and a lot of responsibility, we do not throw ourselves into blackmail, because we know that it is for short periods of time. and so the same employers call us again or give us good references”, he acknowledges.
Of all the trips they have been doing, the one they liked the most was touring six countries by bicycle for a month and a half, from the south of Germany to the south of France. To receive support as they passed through the different towns and cities, they devised a trick: they put posters on the bicycles in which they presented themselves as an Argentine couple who did cycling tourism. It worked: “Many people were curious, they offered us to stay in their houses, put the tent in their garden, they prepared meals for us and even gave us money to help us continue traveling,” reveals Emi.
Next year they plan to continue on an adventure plan and in 2024 settle in Spain or Italyalready looking for another type of occupation, be it starting a business or providing services remotely. For that, while they work and travel, they take specialization courses in marketing, programming and languages. “It was not the plan but in the end we decided to stay in Europe,” they conclude.