On the 14th March 2006 Ben Alvarez Turner met his now wife Sosi in Buenos Aires for the first time. Ben is from England and Sosi is from Argentina. He met Sosi online and knew straight away he had to meet her in real life. He sold his car and booked the first flight over to Argentina with STA Travel. Now 10 years later they are married with a 2 year old son. Sounds like something straight out of a movie… Congratulations guys!
Here’s Ben’s story:
1.How did you feel when you were booking your flights?
Looking back, I remember being both very excited and at the same time quite nervous. At the time, I had a crappy job but I managed to sell my car which enabled me to raise enough funds. I literally ran to the STA travel store with my wad of cash. I was rather coy about my reasons for going. When I was speaking to the STA travel agent, I wasn’t confident enough to say that I was going to meet a girl. I must have made the impression that I was going to travel Argentina, but really it was to meet Sosi.
Sad really, looking back, meeting people online is rather common now. I can only imagine what it was like for Sosi explaining to her family that an English guy she had met online was coming over to meet her. I think she had only told her dad the day before!
2.What it was like when you first saw each other at the airport?
I remember Sosi saying to me that while she was waiting in Arrivals, a really small chap came out and looked at her. Thinking this was me, she waved to him and thought I was a lot shorter than I had made out to be. When I did finally appear, it was both a relief and extremely nerve wracking to meet face to face. We exchanged gifts, Sosi had made me a T-shirt, I had bought her a West Ham mug. It was overwhelming, lots of hugs, repeating things. Then after we had both calmed down she dropped a huge bombshell.. her Dad was waiting to take us to my apartment!
3. What did you do on your initial trip to Buenos Aires?
I rented a place in Avenida Cordoba, a fantastic location just off the never-ending Calle Florida and not far from Plaza San Martin! I got to see both sides to Buenos Aires, the tourist side and the porteño side. Most of my time was with Sosi’s family in the suburbs where I was pretty much the only gringo.
I had never spoken any Spanish prior to this trip so it must have been very hard for all of her family, but they were extremely accommodating and I will never forgot how welcome they made me feel in those first few days. Constantly feeding me. I met her Grand parents and went round there for lunch, I had never eaten so much in my life! At one point, I was unable to finish what was on my plate, but they assumed it was because the food was cold so they kept serving me more.
I also took a short language course to help improve my Spanish. This was a huge help and I got to meet so many travellers at the same time. They were all talking about where to go next and what countries they had been to. I told them about city, but I never really felt as though I was a traveller. I was there to meet Sosi.
4. Do you live in Buenos Aires? What do you love most about Buenos Aires/Argentina?
We live in London and have been based here since 2007. We have been back to see family almost every year. They also try to come over and stay with us a couple of times a year. In terms of what I love most about Buenos Aires, I saw a great quote once in one of the cafes: ‘Argentinians are Italians who speak Spanish and think they’re British living in Paris’. This sums it up perfectly for me. They are very proud of their culture and traditions, I love that! The restaurants, shops and cafes have been there for many years, often run by the same family for decades. It is what the UK used to be like.
5. Have you been back with your son?
Our son has been there only once, he is just two so he will have many opportunities to go and visit. We are planning on going this year, preferably for Christmas!
6. What would you say to someone who was thinking of doing the same?
Things were a lot different back then to now. I know that is bit of a cliche but Social Media has changed everything. We met on the cusp of Facebook, I hadn’t even heard of it. Online dating was a big no no back then especially with people from two parts of the world. For me, it was the best decision I had ever made. It was a life changing experience (another cliche) but If I had not listened to my gut and trusted my instincts, then we would have never met.