Our eighth month was spent in Córdoba, Argentina. Córdoba is Argentina’s second largest city and it is smack-dab in the middle of the country. The Argentine Sierras mountain range is about an hour away and there are not many other big cities nearby. You are kind of secluded here but it is also just a short flight to Buenos Aires, Mendoza, or Santiago, Chile. Córdoba is a big university city with several located here. It is a very popular destination for many college students from the northern, southern and more remote parts of Argentina. The main city center is very walkable and the bulk of the population comes from the many neighborhoods and suburbs that surround the city. The people here, Córdobesos, are known to be very friendly, especially to tourists (since there aren’t that many) and this has been true in my experience.
After spending a month in Buenos Aires we knew that Córdoba would be a very different, more localized month. Before we got here, it was to be a month where we could get outside in nature a bit more and interact with the locals. Something similar to Sofia, Bulgaria while we were in Europe – a smaller, less touristy city with lots of nature but not too many nightlife/dining options within the city. Córdoba has been a good month to relax a bit, get more acclimated to the Spanish language and get out of the city and into the country more.
This month, the food here was not great so I ended up cooking a lot more than I normally do. This included being in a group of 5 people where one of us would cook lunch for the other four once a week. This meant I had to cook once a week and I would have lunches made for me the other days of the week. This was great as I got a home-cooked lunch almost everyday this month and it is something we hope to carry over to next month. The cooking was a bit out of necessity (because of the lack of good lunch spots) but ended up being something I really enjoyed and reminded me of home. It is nice to walk around to different markets buying your ingredients and adjusting your recipes based on things you can or cannot find. Every month something new and unexpected happens and this month was the cooking. I hope I can keep it up next month.
The mountains are not too far outside the city center and that was a focus for many of our events this month. A group of us went to a national park and did a six hour hike which was a great way to spend a Saturday morning. The national park is known for condors and halfway through the hike is a huge ravine where the condors like to fly around. Condors are some of the biggest birds in the world and it was cool to see the “Argentine national bird” in the wild. Another event we had was a typical gaucho night. Gauchos are like Argentine cowboys and some of them invited us to have a typical meal and night. A big portion of our group headed to this ranch and we had an amazing meal cooked over a wood-fire and got to spend hours hanging out and sitting around the campfire together. These nights, (like camping in Bulgaria) without the distraction of the city are always our favorites since we can get a big group together and just hangout without having to worry about anything. Another fun event this month was the Oktoberfest festival. It is apparently the biggest in South America and is situated between two German towns about 2 hours from Córdoba. After WWII, many Germans and Italians came to Argentina and settled here around Córdoba. The little town where the Oktoberfest celebration was held had the typical small-town German architecture you would expect to find in Germany. Inside the festival were many beer vendors and people wearing traditional German outfits dancing and singing. It definitely had the same feel of the Springfest festival I went to in Munich back in April. All of these events that got us out of the city were all needed and really fun. It is always nice when a city has an escape and Córdoba has many things to offer outside it’s city center.
This month was probably the month where we interacted with locals the most. Since there are not many tourists, people are generally curious to why you are visiting so it is easy to strike up a conversation. Also, since there are many universities in the area most people walking around, especially in certain neighborhoods, are around my age. People here are also very fascinated with the US and when you tell them you are from there they get very curious and interested. It is definitely the city that has the most positive reviews around the US. Almost everyone I talked to wants to visit the US, and many have. It is a very common thing for families to go to Disneyworld for a few weeks for a daughter’s sixteenth birthday. Many locals don’t speak English so it was a good month for me to practice my Spanish. While it is improving, I still struggle with listening and speaking sometimes but overall I am much better than when I started back in Spain. I feel confident that I could figure out most situations just using Spanish and hand motions.
The craft beer scene here is surprisingly big and there have to be around 15-20 little brewpubs around the city. Many are very small and many have the same beers but I had the chance to visit them all and it was fun to have a beer at so many different spots after work. The beer wasn’t particularly good most places but most had outdoor spaces and the weather was always nice which made it better.
Córdoba is nice little Argentine city that I’m glad I was able to experience since I’m not sure I would come here otherwise. The people here are very passionate about their city and it shows that they love it. That, mixed with their friendliness, makes it a very easy place to adapt to as a foreign tourist. I was glad I got to make out to the mountains a few times this month and it was a productive month for eating healthy and working which was needed as we are now 2/3 through with the trip. Now its time to head north and see what Lima, Peru has to offer.