I arrived in Córdoba at about 7 AM. I didn’t sleep at all on the night bus so I was exhausted and cranky. Luckily, my friend Camila is cordobesa, and her family still lives in Córdoba. I met her wonderful parents a few months ago when they came to visit Salta, and because I was going to Córdoba, her mom kindly offered to meet me at the bus station. She found me and we headed to her dad’s house (Camila’s grandpa). They kindly invited me in, we drank mate together, took some pictures to send to Camila, and I freshened up. Next Camila’s mom took me to Sofía’s apartment, where I was staying while in Córdoba. I decided to try couchsurfing for the first time in Argentina and had a great time staying with her! I dropped off my bag and then Camila’s mom and I drove all around so she could show me the city. She had to go to work at noon and I had a meeting at one, so she dropped me off at WalMart… that’s right, WalMart! It was amazing and overwhelming. It felt like America. I don’t think I liked it. But it was kind of cool nonetheless, and I bought myself some M&Ms.
At one I had lunch plans with Carolina, the director of an English institute who worked at Lago del Bosque Bemidji with Lauren, who I know through my involvement in WAFLT (Wisconsin Association for Language Teachers). We ate with her husband Guillermo, talked about my experiences in Salta, discussed her English institute, and they were amazingly nice!! After that I had a little time to rest before I headed downtown to explore and later go to a Rotaract Córdoba meeting.
I wandered around the plaza and was amazed at how beautiful the city was. It’s like Salta because it is colonial, but it is just so much more lively!
I had the chance to visit a museum dedicated to telling the story of Córdoba’s desparecidos from the military dictatorship in Argentina. The “Comisión y Archivo Provincial de la Memoria” is in a building that was used by the police, the “C2,” to hold and torture people who were kidnapped by the government/police/military. I had goosebumps the entire time, because this was a really dark period in Argentine history and I hadn’t seen any museum or space that was as impacting as this one.
Then I met up with Tincho, who is from San Pedro de Jujuy (a town about an hour and a half north of Salta) but moved to Córdoba for college in 2007. He has been super active in Rotaract there and a Rotarian in San Pedro connected me with him. I went to their meeting and it was really, really fun! I love Rotaract and wish that Salta had it! It’s like Rotary, but for people ages 18-30. They were all really nice to me and excited that I was there to visit. I got to talk a little bit about myself and got to learn about the things their club has been doing in the community.
The next few days I simply explored Córdoba – the plaza, the university, museums, the Jesuit part of the city, the park, the canal and river that run through the city, etc. And I went to Starbucks… twice.
On the weekends they have an enormous “Paseo de artesanos” or Artisan fair. You could spend 3 hours there and still probably wouldn’t hit all the stands. You can find anything from clothes to jewelry to food to plants to ceramics… you get the idea. I bought an amazing mate that has lyrics from a Calle 13 song, Latinoamérica. I love how alive Córdoba is — there are always people out, the city doesn’t really have a siesta, and it is so full of young people because there are 7 universities!!
On Sunday I took time to go to Alta Gracia, a city about an hour outside of Córdoba. The city is famous for a huge Jesuit estancia and also for the childhood home of Ernesto “Che” Guevara. If you haven’t seen Motorcycle Diaries, watch it. Che is the emblematic revolutionary who helped Castro in Cuba, but also did a lot of consciousness-raising in Argentina and really all of South America in respect to a variety of social issues. He was eventually killed but the home was converted into a museum that celebrates his childhood and life, period as “Che,” influence in South America, etc. The strangest thing for me was that Fidel Castro visited the museum so there’s an entire room full of pictures of him… for an American, to be that “close” to Castro was really weird, considering our diplomatic relationship with Cuba (or lack thereof). The city was beautiful and I had a great, relaxing day!
On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I kept exploring Córdoba and also left my resumé at a number of English institutes and bilingual schools. I honestly have no idea what I want to do next year, but I am basically split between coming back to Salta, moving to Córdoba, or living in the USA. So, I took advantage of my time there to set up interviews and whatnot just to see what my opportunities in Córdoba would be. It’s hard because most of the places told me that they don’t know if they will have a job open next year but would absolutely love to have me. It would be hard in some ways to have to readjust to a new city, and the busses there are really bad (they come every 25-30 minutes) and expensive (4.10 pesos vs. 2.50 pesos in Salta). So, I still have no answers about what I want to do. I am in the process of making a super detailed pros and cons list about each place, and hopefully I will make up my mind soon! I came back to Salta on Thursday morning and returned to my life here, with a new appreciation for the smallness and tranquility of this town after spending 5-6 days in the craziness of gigantic Córdoba. It was great to see my students again, go to Rotary, and go to my class at la UNSa. I have a good network of people here, both friends and acquaintances, and I’m not sure if I am ready to give this up!