Jan 24, 2011
I arrived in Cordoba at 6:30 am on Thursday morning after taking a night bus from Buenos Aires. I managed to sleep on the bus but I was still quite tired for most of Thursday. Fortunately it was overcast so not to hot. I have since discovered that when the sun is out in Cordoba, it's bloody hot, like "in-danger-of-getting-heatstroke-at-midday" hot!
I stayed at a hostel near the historical centre on Thursday and Friday night. The city was founded in 1573, but the Jesuits arrived not long after and had a big influence on its early history, including the creation of the first university in Argentina. Cordoba boasts a pedestrian-only old town scattered with churches and other buildings from the 16th to the 19th centuries. It's pededtrian-only but it can get mightily busy on weekdays, with people (who don't seem to be able to walk in a straight line) browsing the shops (a lot of them shoe stores) and getting ice cream.
So far I have visited several churches, an art gallery, taken an open-top double-decker bus tour of the city, checked out the municipal market (a lot of meat and entrails here) where I had lunch at a surprisingly upscale seafood restaurant, and watched dancing fountains at Paseo del Buen Pastor, a public plaza in the new town.
I've also enrolled in a Spanish class that will start Monday. To immerse myself in the language even more, I'm staying at the downtown apartment of a woman (Mirta) where I have my own room and share the bathroom. I didn't know a lot about her or the apartment until I arrived here this morning. It's all good except for the fact that she smokes, but she seems ok with smoking on her balcony since I told her that it bothers me somewhat (she asked). The other thing is that it's awfully hot in here. Fortunately she gave me a big fan for my bedroom.
I know I won't get any sympathy from folks at home, but temperatures have been going up since I got here. I'm guessing that it's around 35C and more in the sun. Well, no surprise here since it's the middle of summer. But this is making me rethink my plan of going to Salta which is quite a bit further north (hence hotter) and where the surrounnding valleys seem to be mostly unshaded rock landscapes. Perhaps I should head straight for Chile and go south instead, where the weather will be cooler and allow me to do some hiking comfortably.
After getting a good night sleep, I felt a lot more optimistic about things today. I also exerted myself a lot less during the daytime hours. Not that hard to do on a Sunday since pretty much everything is closed. Went to the grocery store down the street to buy things for breakfast (man, cashiers are slow here), and after breakfast I headed out to find a place with WiFi. There is no internet connection in this apartment, which is a minus. But on the plus side, the lady is friendly and likes to converse which is great for improving my Spanish. She even made me lunch today (I brought the wine)!
After a two hour lunch/conversation I had a short siesta then headed out for a guided tour of the Jesuit complex, part of which now belongs to a college. Most of the building is original, and several rooms contain over 2000 books from the 16th to 18th century that the Jesuits used in their teachings.
I also checked out the artisan market that occupies a few city blocks on week-ends. For dinner, Mirta took me to a local restaurant where we had delicious empanadas & beer, and listened to folkloric music, which was excellent (two singers with guitar and drums).