Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Córdoba and Suburbs

Córdoba, Argentina.Córdoba is a city—and province—in Argentina, located slightly north of Buenos Aires and roughly centered longitudinally. It is almost a half-millennium old, was once an important Spanish center, and was named after its namesake in Spain. Its population is around 1.4 million.

Okay. Now that the formal description is out of the way, on to my impressions and what I did while there. The feeling is basically like you're in a miniature and toned-down Buenos Aires. The people are friendly, ice cream cones are cheap, and there is a street just like Florida in Buenos Aires. This is a street that is closed to traffic where vendors sell their wares. Córdoba's version is called 9 de Julio, a common street name in various Córdoba, Argentina.cities in Argentina, named after their independence day. By the way, pretty much no one gives a crap about independence day in Argentina—opposite end of the spectrum from the States.

My second day in Córdoba, I met a guy named Bruno who lives in Rio Gallegos (way down south) and is originally from Río Cuarto, a few hours south of Córdoba. We bummed around together for several days, which was nice, because I could practice my Spanish a fair amount and he is very familiar with the area, so I'm sure I saw some places I wouldn't have otherwise seen.

One day, we went to Alta Gracia, hometown of Che Guevara, my least hated communist, probably just because I like The Motorcycle Diaries, a movie about his adventurous travels through South America. We also visited an old Jesuit Mission. Jesuit Mission, Alta Gracia.Quite lovely. It's about a one-half-hour bus ride from the city and cost about 5 pesos each way.

That night, after getting back to the city, we went to a concert of a rock band, Callejeros, from Buenos Aires. They were clearly popular—the place was packed. The crowd was into it, for sure. As the concert was starting, beer cups, about 2/3 empty, were flying into the air and showering spectators with the fermented yellow concoction. We stayed for a while, but left early.

Jesuit Mission, Alta Gracia.Another day, we went to Tanti, about an hour away by bus, and costing 8 pesos and 50 centavos each way—a whopping $6. There is a lovely creek there with all sorts of natural rock formations and a few restaurants. It's apparently quite a tourist attraction, as three tour buses showed up while we were there. Thankfully, we had some time to ourselves before the invasion.

One last little tidbit. A large sugar cone with two scoops of ice cream costs 9 pesos, or about $3, in Buenos Aires. I bought one in Córdoba for 3 pesos and 50 centavos—about $1.17. It's a nice city and worth a visit, both for what's in it and around it.

NOTE: The buses in Córdoba work a little differently than those in Buenos Aires. In Buenos Aires, you just get on the bus and drop your change in the slot. In Córdoba, you have to swing by a kiosk—a dime a dozen in Latin America—and purchase a token. When you get on the bus, you hand the token to the driver and he prints out a ticket for you, which you just grab from the machine, as in Buenos Aires.

Tanti, Argentina, near Córdoba. Bruno Yours Truly   Che's bike.Callejeros Córdoba, Argentina. Córdoba, Argentina. Córdoba, Argentina. A foot-operated cotton candy machine. A 3 peso 50 centavo ice cream cone. Iglesia de los Capuchinos Iglesia de los Capuchinos Iglesia de los Capuchinos

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