“I didn’t choose Budapest, Budapest chose me”
When he was 23 years old, Orlando came from Mexico to live in Budapest, where he has been living for almost 2 years. He studied finance back in his hometown and now lives his professional life in the Hungarian capital.
Why did you come to Hungary?
While I was studying at my university I got a chance to go to Switzerland and the Netherlands as an exchange student. After having that experience and living that opportunity, I really wanted to stay abroad so I went back to Mexico to finish my degree and started looking for options. That is when I found an AIESEC internship in Hungary. It wasn’t really planned, I wanted to come to Europe for sure but I was open for anything. Then, during the selection process, Budapest appeared and I had the notion it was a beautiful place so I came here. I didn’t choose Budapest, Budapest chose me.
What are you doing here?
With AIESEC I was working for an SSC (Shared Service Center) in the finance department. After a while I decided to make a professional move and went to a telecommunications company, where I currently work in the operations department. It is very different from what I studied but I got to know the role and the company and so far I like it. It is something I really enjoy.
Where in Mexico are you from? How would you describe the gay life there?
I am from Mexico City but I feel like I don’t know much of the gay life there. I only came out after my first exchange abroad and when I went back I only visited some places. Since I was planning to move, I did not really put much effort in getting involved with the gay scene. My focus was on moving away.
In comparison, what do you think of gay life in Budapest?
Gay life is quite open in Mexico, so I would have expected that a European capital like Budapest is even more liberal. But I was shocked when I came and saw that the Hungarian society is not so open to, despite having a huge LGBT community. I realized that it is like the big pink elephant in the room. It is there but everyone tries to ignore it.
I used to go to Garcons a lot, but I haven’t been in a while as it is quite repetitive. I go to the so-called gay gym Tempelfit. I’ve been to Tütü once but now I am a more chilled person who prefers to sit down and have a beer, instead of going out to dance.
What else do you usually do in your free-time?
I enjoy ruin pubs and if I would have to choose one place from Budapest, I would say the Alexandra Café on Andrássy út. The building itself is quite amazing; the café is gorgeous, the library is very cool (you can find great wines in there) and on the top of the building you have the 360° terrace bar which is one of my favorites in Budapest.
What kind of hobbies do you have?
I started going to the gym regularly and I also love escape rooms. My favorite so far is in the 7th district, between Paulay Ede utca and Király utca, where you have to solve a crime and it is very exciting. To be honest, during this time of the year, I don’t really go out and I prefer to stay home, it is too cold for me. But when I am in the mood, I like to go out and try different restaurants or go out with friends to different pubs for drinks. I can’t wait for the summer; it is my favorite time of the year. Budapest is absolutely amazing during that season and just sitting by the Danube on the “rakpart” makes it for a perfect, chilled evening.
What is your perception of Hungary and everything here?
After living in the Netherlands and Switzerland, I had a different idea of how Europe was like, so it took me some time to get used to it. When I first came, I had so many expectations after living in those countries but I was staying in a not so nice district so I was shocked. But then I met a girl who came to visit Budapest and stayed in my flat, and when I went to walk around and did some sightseeing with her, I got to know the city better and I became very fond of it. It was love at second sight. That is when I thought that I could give it a chance and if not, then I could just leave when I finish my internship.
What happened? What made you stay?
Well, to be honest, a big factor was that I was falling in love in every other corner; guys are so handsome here! And I was practically “Bridget Jones-ing” around, I mean I was really looking for a relationship, but then at some point I was about to give up. It was a weird period because I was having some trouble so everything was quite confusing, but then I met the perfect guy, who is my current boyfriend.
Do you miss home?
Not really, I made myself a home in Budapest and it feels like this is my place to be. I don’t really see myself going back to Mexico for the rest of my life. For me, it would be like starting over from zero, while here I have something I have already built.
So, what will be the end of that story? Are you planning to stay in Budapest permanently?
No, I would like to go back to Mexico for a couple of years because I want my boyfriend to get to know my culture and to see how people live there. But after that I think we would come back to Europe and at least have an apartment here in Budapest so we could always stay in the city.
Fotó: Sáfár Krisztián