Roads again

December 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Another gap, again mostly full of Buenos Aires. The capital isn’t going to figure this time around, though – partly because I want to have a proper think about it just before I head back to the UK in mid-December, but mostly because I’ve left it behind for the next couple of weeks.

I’m writing this from Córdoba, Argentina’s second city which lies some 9 hours northwest of Buenos Aires. Founded by the Jesuits in the 16th century, it has a beautiful colonial centre and some stunning churches. Apologies for the guidebook tone – in fact, as always happens, the Lonely Planet version of the city didn’t quite fit over reality. The colonial centre is gorgeous, yes, but much of the rest of the city is the standard Argentine grid of concrete towers.

This isn’t suprising or bad, of course, but the guidebook hyperbole distorted expectations. I have had a fantastic three days here, though, taking it very easy with some Mexican and Colombian friends from Buenos Aires. Our lethargic schedule of visits to Jesuit estancias in the countryside, long breakfasts in cafes and hours lying in parks was the perfect antidote to BA’s constant, nervous roar.

This time spent with good friends in fact made the guidebook version of Córdoba completely irrelevant. As far as I’m concerned, Córdoba is the following:

adopting a dog for the walk from the bus terminal to the hostel, laughing at an impenetrable ‘real estate business’ board game, talking to the ducks in the park, sneaking into a Mass in a church like an upside-down wooden ship. Not to mention drinking tereré (mate but with cold orange juice), running into a road block in the main square, enjoying an excellent example of a drunken DMC (deep and meaningful conversation) and pondering the many eccentricities of the Argentines.

In other, very naff words: it’s the people, not the place.

Soon after I finish writing this, I’ll be heading to the bus terminal for the overnight trip to Tucumán. Argentine independence was first declared there, and it’s the starting point for my whistle-stop tour of the Andean northwest. I am very, very excited at the prospect of mountains, ice, llamas, and many other Andean things I miss from my time in Peru. Among these are pecularities of Andean travel, such as rather surreal combination of luxury double-decker buses and winding grit roads.

I’ll try to write an update every couple of days. Hasta pronto, then.

 

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