Yes, hi, it’s me, I’m back.
Friday morning (July 27th) all semester students went to a government office to be fingerprinted as a part of the visa process. Immediately after the meeting five of us made our way to the Alta Córdoba train station to catch the “Tren de las Sierras” to a little town called Cosquin. The train ride was interesting, on the way to Cosquin we passed many smaller, rural communities and enjoyed the changing landscape as we entered the Sierras Chicas to the north of the city. Once arriving in Cosquin we encountered a closed supermercado, as well as many businesses which were closed for siesta. After a brief moment of confusion regarding buses to our final destination, La Cumbre, we bought our tickets, got some snacks, and were on our way.
This isn’t my photo, it isn’t even from our trip, but it’s the train we took on Friday! It also includes two members of our group Sierra and Lauren (The arrow is how Sierra sometimes names herself in groups!)
This is me just being me, going about life in the world!
Now, this was not what I would typically describe as a “smooth” trip, actually, there were quite a few bumps in the road. Upon reaching the bus station in La Cumbre, we decided to find the hostel we made reservations at and see if we could maybe drop off our stuff before walking around town. We started down several roads before finally getting oriented in the right direction and as we approached the hostel, something didn’t seem quite right. The windows and doors were completely shuttered and the place looked absolutely dead. We circled the building to make sure we hadn’t just missed the entrance, rang the doorbell, and finally found the hostel’s phone number and made a call. The third party website which we had used to make the reservation failed to mention that the hostel was closed due to heating problems. In this moment we discovered that we were in the presence of Lauren “the Phone Queen” aka the girl you need when making a phone call in Spanish. We were 60 miles from Córdoba and our options were to find somewhere else to stay or try and catch a bus back the same night. Luckily we spotted a tourist info center across the street from the bus terminal and when we asked about potential lodgings they happily provided us with a name and a map with directions to the small hotel. Luckily, we were able to catch the owner on his way out and managed to talk him into letting the five of us stay in the same room because we weren’t particularly interested in splitting up. We then decided to walk around a little bit in town and then went to dinner at a pizza bar. The ‘za was good and I also tried a bite of a lomito, a pretty popular kind of steak sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and egg, which was also pretty tasty and I may try again.
Hi! It’s me Libby here with the Gran Escritor!
Our hotel for the night
The bed which fit 3 human beings was really just two twins tied together with rope! Who would have thought!
That night we played a game called tri-bucket. It was fun because all of us had said some kind of random things throughout the day which were great to revisit and just laugh about the situation again. For anyone who hasn’t played before, tri-bucket is a three phase game (you may or may not play a super secret fourth round, but due to its supersecret nature not everyone is privy to its rules), all the players write down words/phrases/people on a sheets of paper and add them to a vesicle in which the slips of paper can be mixed. The first round, players have to get their teammates to guess what their slip says, exactly as it is stated, using no proper nouns or words from the paper; the second round’s hint is a single word; and, the third round you have to act out your slip (these may be out of order but you get the gist.) We also did partake in the fourth round, because clearly, we’re in the know.
I also had to introduce some people to a very important musical work, “Rock the Casbah,” by The Clash. When we were walking through town earlier in the evening, I happened to spot a restaurant called “The Kasbah” which prompted a somewhat impromptu solo performance of the aforementioned song, which NOBODY KNEW. I had to rectify this travesty and played that song for everyone to hear and threw in some more classics from the playlist I have titled, “Sport Dad Jams,” as I figured it was just worth it to sprinkle some more of my favorite musical works into their lives.
The restaurant which started a new chapter in the four other girls’ music journeys
In the morning Elizabeth, Sierra, and I, hiked up to “Cristo Redentor” in the hills. The statue overlooks the city and it’s essentially just a smaller version of the more well-known Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio. The walk up wasn’t too bad, it was broken up by the stations of the cross and the view from the top was incredible. We also went into a small chapel which is located at the base of the hill when we were finished.
Info about the trail
One of the first things you see on the trail up, I assume it’s just a place to sit and reflect before starting up
One of the stations
view of El Cristo from our hotel at night
- I would like to use this platform to also express my sincere gratitude for the inclusion of stairs on this hill, I needed there to be stairs to redeem myself for a rather idiotic comment made the night before. Someone in our group asked how you get up to the statue and my knee-jerk reaction was just to say “there’s stairs,” you can tell it was completely out of nowhere because it’s not even proper English, but you know, who cares about that?
Proof that there are, in fact, stairs
We returned to the main area of town in search of some sweaters and ways to kill time until Danielle and Lauren, the other two members of our group, returned from paragliding. Unfortunately we did not find any sweaters, but we did see a church, so it was a good tradeoff? We were all pretty much ready to get out of town when Lauren and Danielle arrived so we caught the first “express” bus back to Córdoba, but if that was the direct bus, I do not want to even think about what the indirect one is like.
I gotta be honest, this church was really talked up in tourist materials and it didn’t quite live up to my hopes and dreams
I was really happy with this trip, as most it was my first opportunity to get to know some of the people in my program on a more personal level. We took some breaks from Spanish (sorry Spanish-only policy), but I think that those moments were essential to getting a better understanding of the personalities of people in our group, and seeing a different-side of everyone’s multi-faceted life in our first language. Also, we let out what Lauren referred to as our “English demons” which was just an added plus. For example, now this entire group of people now knows that I am just a very weird human and that my passport photo looks mildly like a mugshot.
During the week I went over plans for a trip that you’ll all get to hear about pretty soon (maybe), went to an event called EnglishTalk! where I met some really cool people and got some truly incredible pizza afterwards, ate at an Italian restaurant that I’ve been eyeing for a few weeks now, took a proficiency exam, and bought some banana chips.
Friday night we had a get together with our speaking-partners at a bar in Barrio Guemes. I met up with Elizabeth and Lauren before and we walked from Plaza San Martin to the bar. It ended up that there really wasn’t space for us in the bar we wanted to go to so we just ended up walking down the street to a place that wasn’t quite as busy. I didn’t make it a late night but I enjoyed hanging out and chatting with some new people. Also, the bars here play some great music, I frequently hear “Roxanne” and music by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and it’s really quite entertaining.
The Cathedral in Plaza San Martin
I’m in this photo from Friday night with the speaking partners
Saturday, August 4th, we took another program trip to Alta Gracia, a little town to the south of Córdoba Capital in the Sierras Chicas. Our first stop was a Jesuit estancia. The Jesuit presence in Argentina can be seen in many ways but this was an enjoyable stop. To be honest I did not pay quite as much attention to our tour guide at some points as I probably should have, but the building and the church were both very beautiful. I don’t really feel the need to regale you with all of the history of the place; I know it’s very selfish of me, but, if you want to know, just go to Alta Gracia yourself, or Wikipedia it; I’m sure there’s some great info available to you there.
Our second stop was the childhood home of Ernesto Guevara, better known as Che. “Che” is a pretty popular word in Argentina, it pretty much means “dude” or can just be a casual interjection, it is what you make of it; but, supposedly Ernesto acquired the nickname because he used “che” so much in conversation. (Please don’t trust me this, it’s probably not true, maybe I just imagined it; but… it’s also possible.) The Guevara family moved to Alta Gracia for its dry climate, which was meant to lessen the severity of Ernesto’s asthma. The family moved a few times but the home we saw became their more permanent abode. Following a recap of the life of Che Guevara we walked through the home and looked through each exhibit. Personally, I found the museum very interesting. During my last Spanish course we watched a film called Diarios de Motocicleta, which documents one of two major “road trips” Che Guevara took in his life, the first being a bicycle tour through several provinces in Argentina and the second being a motorcycle turned backpacking trip through South America with one of his friends. The film, which recounts the motorcycle journey, was one of my favorite movies during the semester and there was an entire room in the home dedicated to that trip, including the same model of motorcycle they began the journey with. The home was beautiful and knowing what became of the man who grew up there just made it all the more engaging for me.
- Also, I really tried to hold it together when I overheard one of our trip coordinators talking about how when she was growing up she thought that Che was very attractive and how she still finds him quite good-looking.
Art of Che
News clipping about two “experts” on leprosy (Ernesto and his friend, Alberto) from their time on the journey
“To always think the worst is the sign of a mean spirit and a low soul…” or something like that
Just another addition to the “Famous person on a bench + Libby” photo series
To finish the day we went to an estancia for lunch. We got to enjoy another asado, followed by horseback riding. So, honestly, the horseback riding was beautiful, we went further into the Sierras than the last estancia we visited; however, my feelings about horses haven’t really changed, I’m not a big fan. This sentiment was not aided by my horse’s lack of response to my commands, i.e. pulling back on the reins, and at the end of the ride my horse started running, I was not into it, I pulled the reins, it did not stop, I required some assistance, and I was not all that upset when I got off the horse and the experience was over. It ended up being fine, but I think I’ve decided that I will never be one of those people who goes horseback riding on a beautiful beach during vacation, I’m just gonna walk it.
The grill for the asado
I promise it was super pretty, I just can’t take pictures
Thanks so much for tuning in! Hopefully I’ll have another blogpost full of more grammatical errors and bad photography soon!