Sunny Disposition - Heribmar Casares, Sommelier in training

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By Sorrel Moseley-Williams for the Buenos Aires Herald

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From: Caracas, Venezuela
Lives: Belgrano
Education: Tourism business administration degree at Alejandro de Humboldt University, Caracas
Profession: Sommelier in training
Book: A book about Pichín
Film: 50 Shades of Grey
Gadget: Corkscrew

It was quite the flying start for Caracas transplant Heribmar Casares, who moved to Buenos Aires to be with her Argentine boyfriend then started a study programme almost immediately. Due to qualify as a sommelier later this year, she’s lived in Belgrano for two and a half years, and currently works in a Palermo restaurant.

Heribmar says: “I was working for the Renaissance La Castellana hotel in Caracas, in the food and beverages area, and had been there for two years when I met my now-boyfriend, who is Argentine. Our relationship was a long-distance one and Gastón, who’s the editor of Bar & Drinks magazine, would call me every day and came to visit me lots of times. Then he started suggesting that I came to Argentina, saying I’d increase my opportunities and have new experiences.

“It took me a year and a half to think about it, however, and it wasn’t an easy decision to make. I talked to my mum about it a lot. I had to resign from the hotel, which was hard to do as it was a great place to work; one felt in charge yet free at the same time.

“The idea was also to study as I wanted to keep growing professionally, and Gastón was very supportive as he considered that I had a good palate. I arrived in Buenos Aires on February 6, 2012, then started studying sommellerie at CAVE wine and spirits school that March. But I basically decided to move to Argentina as I had fallen in love with him.”

The upside

Coming from Venezuela and given that she had never visited Argentina before, Heribmar could see a lot of positives about being in Buenos Aires, besides living with her boyfriend. One thing that particularly stood out for her was the safety, in comparison with her home country.

She says: “I landed at Ezeiza and went straight to Belgrano, and I saw so many beautiful things. I don’t think Argentines appreciate what they have in their country! As a foreigner, I really enjoy the architecture and transport isn’t quite as disorganized as it is in Venezuela. But what conquered me the most was safety. It’s not that there isn’t any crime here, but you can have a coffee sitting at a table outside on the pavement, and nothing will probably happen. That kind of freedom doesn’t exist in Caracas, and I certainly couldn’t walk about at 3am on my own like I do here. I’m always prepared – with a pepper spray! – just in case, but the point is I can do those things.”

With regard to Argentines themselves, she thinks they could learn a little from the sunny Venezuelan disposition. “People walk around with headphones and that isolates you. But we wake up and see the sun and say, ‘look how gorgeous the sun is!’ Or the moon, isn’t it wonderful? I also think it comes down to finding opportunities then making the most of them. Appreciating what you have. I’m very happy here.”

Back to school

Currently working front of house in a Palermo restaurant, Heribmar has divided her time betweens studies and work, up until recently. She adds: “I finished studying at the end of last year and I have five more exams to take, then I will qualify as a sommelier. So I’ve started to make small waves, and I’ve found my own group of people. I have a very close and united group of classmates, for example, who invite me out for dinner or to an event, and as a foreigner in Argentina, that makes me very happy.”

Recently returning from her first trip back to Caracas since moving to Buenos Aires, her motherland renewed her energy. Heribmar says: “The reality here is that I work hard, from 7am to 5pm, greeting people and attending to their needs at the restaurant. I do it because I enjoy it. The owners are very supportive, although I would like to work as a sommelier in the future.

“I’ve always liked wine, although we drink a lot of rum in Venezuela. I love the conversations that wine brings, or looking for aromas when you try one. It’s really interesting and you fall in love with it! Now my friends in Venezuela send me messages asking me about... (Read More)

Beta 11/2017