It was Thursday, the 18th of August. Maria and I took a bus from Retiro at 10:40 p.m. It was supposed to take between nine and ten hours to get up to the city of Cordoba, so we were projected to arrive around 8:00 a.m. Before sunrise, we were woken up by the driver shouting, "Cordoba!" I haven't been so disoriented in a really long time (my roommates will recall EVERY TIME I fell asleep studying and woke up confused). My first question? Of course: "What time is it?" 6:30 a.m., friends. Maria and I looked at each other. We wondered if we had gotten off at the wrong stop. Was this really Cordoba? Could we have arrived an hour and a half early? How was that even possible, when no bus ever left on time EVER? But it was Cordoba. We walked to the tourist information center in the bus terminal, which was, of course, closed. We stared at the map for a while before we just asked a security guard how to get to our hostel.
We arrived at the doorstep of the hostel and rang the bell. I recall being overly delighted at the sound of it. It was like a ringtone...and I was deliriously tired. After a few minutes, a guy came to the door, barefoot and rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. "Si?" was all he said to us. We told him we had reservations and he let us in. We checked in and he informed us that since there was another girl in the room we would be staying in, he couldn't let us in and risk disturbing her (although he proceeded to do that the next night when we were sleeping there. Totally cool). He led us into the common room. On the couch was a pillow and blanket, and his shoes were on the floor nearby. He pointed to two strange but comfortable-looking chairs, and we sat down, eventually falling asleep, not to wake up again until about 10:00 a.m.
At that time we were able to get into our room. We put down our bags, changed our clothes and freshened up, then promptly headed out to explore the city. That first day we spent a lot of time on the pedestrian shopping streets, but we also saw several churches (this city is absolutely full of them) and this really cool underground museum that was an old Jesuit crypt.
So that was all the Jesuit crypt. Get ready for a series of churches....
|Cabildo Historico....at night!|
|Pretty sure this was the Jesuit church...on the Jesuit block|
|This foreboding Gothic church that Maria was obsessed with|
And that's not even all of the churches this city had. They love their church, man. That day we also saw a photo exhibition by an Italian photographer as well as a museum dedicated to the memory of the Desaparecidos from the era of Argentina's last military dictatorship. The museum was in a building that was used as a sort of concentration camp for those "subversive" ones who opposed the government. It was haunting, to say the least. I don't have pictures of it. I think what's most chilling about the Desaparecidos (disappeared ones) is how recently it took place. We can't look at it and say, "Oh, that was fifty/sixty/a hundred years ago; we've progressed since then." It was the late 70s, early 80s. As a species, we haven't really progressed that much. When it comes to money, power, and control, humanity gets put on the back burner. What desperation those leaders must've felt that they found it necessary to torture and kill everyone that opposed them. Walking through the place, you could read commentaries from survivors. You'd be walking up these stairs and along the wall would be a placard talking about how the prisoners had been dragged up the steps or thrown down them or whatever the case. I was sort of afraid to touch anything. I couldn't really fathom the terrible things that had happened in the same place where I was standing. Overall, the museum was really well done.
After all the museums, churches, and shopping (I finally found the perfect little gift for my nephew here!), Maria and I went to dinner and headed back to the hostel. This hostel (Turning Point Hostel) was really cool, and all the people were friendly and nice, but the place was partially outdoors and it was absolutely frigid that weekend. Our room was unbearable. Luckily, by our second night we had acquired not only extra blankets but a space heater. The next morning Katia arrived. She had classes on Friday and had been unable to come with Maria and me, so she took a bus Friday night. She arrived at an ungodly hour of the morning, just as we had, so when we went out to breakfast, we found her sleeping in the living room. We ate, Katia moved into the room, and we all got ready and headed out. That day we were meeting up with Katia's friend Gabriela, a friend from Nicaragua who's studying at the university in Cordoba. We got lunch, visited the Paseo del Buen Pastor and the Gothic church, then went to the Bicentennial Park for a while before checking out the art museum.
That night they were having an asado at the hostel! We bundled up and sat out on what was essentially a screened-in porch while Nill, one of the hostel employees, served up round after round of excellent Argentinean meat and we enjoyed bread, wine, and the company of people from France, Haiti, Argentina, and the U.S.-- and Nicaragua, of course! Every time I eat at an asado, people leave the table uncomfortably full, unable to fathom eating for at least several hours. But I generally leave the table still a little bit peckish. So a little while later, we decided to head out for dessert. Cordoba, as it turns out, is not like Buenos Aires. Places aren't open late, not even on Saturday nights. We ended up at the one restaurant that had what we were looking for: the same restaurant Maria and I had eaten at the night before.
The next day we took it easy. Most of the shopping places were closed and we'd already seen all the churches, so we pretty much did this:
|Maria in Parque Sarmiento|
|One of the best wines I've ever tasted...you just can't go wrong with a Malbec|
|My first really good milanesa|
We headed home Sunday night. Maria and Katia had both fallen in love with Cordoba's tranquility, but I still love the chaos and absurdity of Buenos Aires. I think I love it more because it is so big and messy and loud. Cordoba was lovely, very lovely, but I felt no attachment to it. As far as cities go, Buenos Aires is my one true love.