Friday, 8 April 2011

Long last meeting in lovely, liveable Cordoba

When I was 18, I spent a year in Kansas City, Missouri, in the US as an exchange student in Park Hill High School. A lovely and very useful experience that not only improved my English greatly (although in an Americanized way) and opened my eyes for the many dualities of the American society, but also created many friendships with some truly interesting people.

One of these friendships, with my closest friend during that year, was with a fellow exchange student – the lovely, fun and brilliant Natasha from Argentina!
Fast forward a couple of years, or rather 15, and here I am finally in Argentina and about to meet this beautiful friend again and experience the city that she talked so much about all those years ago, and which was the first city, outside of capitals, that I probably knew about in Latin America.

I present to you: Cordoba.

As we managed to change the date of arrival about 10 times perhaps (Nuno and I are not the best planners as we like too much to follow a sudden breath of inspiration, such as the short, last-minute trip to Chile), we finally managed to arrive the only weekend when Natasha and her fiancé German were all busy with another visit.

Luckily we would be able to meet up with them on the Sunday evening and hence only had two days to 'kill' before that. Coming off the bus, we started talking about hostel options with a fellow traveller and she told us about the hostel where she was planning to stay. As we had no plans and it sounded like a good place, we decided to tag along and see what it was like.
A few failed attempts to catch a taxi later – they refused to take us as they said it was too close to the bus station – we set off by foot on what would shown to be a 30 minutes hike through the central town, in big summer heat, our backpacks weighing us down and the streets full of Saturday shoppers.

We finally made it to the hostel, and were lucky to get the two last beds. Fairly exhausted, we took the rest of the day 'off' and just strolled around watching the cathedral (also pink, just as the first one we saw in Salta) and pigging out in a café.
On the second day, we decided to make an attempt to walk in the footsteps of the young Ché and took the bus over to Alta Gracia, where one of the houses he lived in during his life has been converted into a very interesting museum of his life.
El Ernestito
Having visited the Mausoleum and museum of Ché in Santa Clara, Cuba, I was impressed by this Argentinian version which I found a lot more interesting. We especially liked to read about his many trips around South America – first by bike and later by motorbike. He was indeed a very interesting man.
El Doctor Che
Che's motorbike and the map of his travels
As it was Sunday, this small town was full of Argentines enjoying their favourite past-time – the barbecue of huge (and I really do mean huge) pieces of meet. As mentioned earlier, the meat in Argentina is not just big, but also very tasty. Walking around the parks and seeing all this display of food made our mouth water and we soon found ourselves in a restaurant in front of a couple of pieces of tasty bife de chorizo. Our attempts of being invited to one of the barbecues having failed miserably. 
don't drink and drive, Harry Potter version
And then it was time to finally meet up with Natasha! To my joy she had not changed a bit. Still the same wonderful person, and looking exactly the same as well. Having spent the first day around the city centre, we now ventured into the Nueva Córdoba area where they lived. To our surprise, as we had not really read anything about this area in the guide book, it is a really great place where the best weekend night life seems to take place.
pre-carnaval in the streets of cordoba
Suddenly I wished that we had found the place already the night before as it would have been a lovely place to spend a Saturday evening, but we were lucky to now be guided around the cool bars, market and restaurants by our very knowledgeable local guides.

Palace Ferreyra or Evita Peron Museum
The main student area of the city, it seems like 'the' place to be and we spent most of the next two days examining it closer, while also examining all the different ice cream shops of Cordoba.

As my friends worked during the days, we met up with them in the evenings and enjoyed some good meals together, including a barbecue with them and a couple of friends 'of theirs in the friends' garden. Finally we got to experience a full on Argentine barbecue with the huge amounts of meat prepared, and it was indeed as good as it had looked and smelled before.
After these few days, it was already time for us to move on to Buenos Aires. Way too early I felt as I would have loved to spend some more time with Natasha and some more time, including another weekend, exploring the city of Cordoba. One of the places where I really felt at home and could imagine living for a longer period of time.
But no rest for the restless...

No comments: