Sofia through the eyes of others: Maite Rieiro

3 December 2020 text Dannie Nikolova
Maite Rieiro is from Uruguay, which she describes as "a small country nestled between the two giants of South America: Argentina and Brazil." Maite moved to Sofia to join PokerStars as a Customer Support Advisor (with Portuguese). Although she recently arrived to Sofia, Maite has already found her way in a new city: she watched the beautiful Sofia sky from the top of the Soviet Army Monument, found a tea room where mate was served, and reported (all by herself) a water supply failure.

My first impression of Sofia was overwhelmed yet excited. I instantly fell in love with the city and its beautiful buildings and mix of architectural styles. Probably not so many people are impressed by that, but for me the eclecticism gives a specific look to the capital. I like the variety of museums and parks to walk in, as well as the fact that it is difficult to get lost in Sofia. I've been trying for three months now.

When I first stepped into PokerStars, I felt I was in the right place. Everyone was very nice and cool – people you can have a good time with. The fact that we are temporarily "home office" is not an ideal situation for a newcomer like me, but the company has done everything to make us feel comfortable.

Moving to a country with a totally different language and alphabet is an adventure. At first, I shopped in the supermarkets without knowing what I had bought until I got home to check with Google Translate. I lived constantly on a trial-and-error basis.

A story I am proud of is involves the interruption of my water supply at home. One morning I found no running water. I called the water company and asked if they spoke English. The answer, of course, was "No". I tried my best and wrote a short speech on Google Translate to give on the phone. I did it with my most questionable intonation possible. To this day, I do not know exactly what I said or what I was told. Five minutes after the call, however, the water flowed. I was ready to cry with joy.

The people here are more like the people of Uruguay than those of Europe. I still can't say why or where exactly I find the resemblance, but it's true. The overall atmosphere that I find here – that is what surprised me and what I adore - it makes me feel at home.

The boldest, or rather the most stupid thing I've done since I've been here, was that one night, after having a few drinks, a friend and I climbed the Soviet Army Monument and sat on top of it to watch the beautiful sky and talk.

I was born in the capital of Uruguay - Montevideo, where one can find the great beaches of La Plata (curious fact: La Plata has the widest estuary in the world). If you visit the city, don't miss its old part (Ciudad Vieja) to see what it looked like in colonial times. The architecture is amazing. There is a lot of street art and nice restaurants. Apart from Montevideo, Colonia and Rocha are the two must-see coastal provinces.

I really miss the taste of mate. It is prepared from dried yerba mate leaves and served in a hollow gourd with a metal straw. The taste is slightly bitter, ideal for winter. It is also consumed in Brazil and Argentina, but not as intensely as in Uruguay. We prepare the best mate! I found it in a teahouse in Sofia, but unfortunately it doesn’t taste the same.

For me, a full house of emotions means adventures, risks, new things and constantly expanding horizons.


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