Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My time in Córdoba

  Day 6 in Còrdoba, and everything is starting to progress forward. Finally all the last few days of planning are all panning out into reality now. The reason I'm still here is because of a stupid mistake before leaving San Antonio de Areco; I had accidentally left a bag with half of my clothing back at Rodrigo's house. D'oh! I was planning on leaving here on Saturday night, but because Rodrigo shipped my clothes via ecomienda (economy class), they're not arriving here until tonight at 10:00, an hour and 15 before my bus for San Juan. What a pain in the ass, especially since I've now walked and taken cabs to the bus terminal 16 blocks from here at least 5 times, only to hear about more delays in one form or another. ARGH.

     But on a better note, I have done some great exploring of restaurants and new foods and a few excellent events and places to see. I have now tried locro, which is a delicious stew normally found in Northwest Argentina, consisting of corn, pumpkin, vegetables, achuras (cow sweetbreads), and some miscellaneous flavors I could not identify. It's very hearty, which explains its increased consumption during the cold winter months in the high altitude altiplano, or elevated desert near the Andes. In that same stew sitting I tried two new flavors of empanada, arabes (meat with Arab seasoning) and a meat and tomato combo one.

      Upon my walking home from the bus terminal, I stopped into a place called Andinas, a tenedor libre (buffet restaurant, lit. ''free fork''), which is one ginormous room stretching far back into the structure, with 6 or so seperate cooking stations and two giant rounds for the various pre-cooked foods, as in any regular American buffet. Tons of food combinations and new words for foods I only knew by sight. I grabbed the first plate and had some paella (a Spanish rice dish with saffron, mussels, fish, and possibly chicken or sausage, or chicken sausage), grabbed a few river fish from the Rìo Paranà, such as surubì and two others whose names I forget, some pork, some squid, and some tripe, a slice of eggplant with mozzarella, and a slice of canneloni. One of the river fish was waaay to fishy, and all three sections of fish still had bones to pick. Second plate was actually a bowl of various stuffed raviolis and gnocchis, only the latter of which did I enjoy. Third plate was for some grapefruit and orange slices, with some red-wine soaked pears, and some carmel covered bananas. MMMMMM. Fourth plate was for dessert, which included flan, a dulce de leche filled log slice, and a couple other things that I was not physically able to consume at this point. A great way to try foods and gorge yourself for $28 pesos.

     I've also explored some pedestrian streets lined with clothing stores, street vendors, more clothing stores, some confiterias, and some more street vendors. Also, you can't forget my favorite: child labor, er, I mean kids selling things. It's terrible when you have to be harsh to these kids that are as young as 5, coming up to your table with random items to buy, such as today's sewing needle kit, or three pairs of socks for $10 pesos, and miscellaneous trinkets and goods. One technique is they enter a confiteria or come directly up to your table outside and place whatever item it is to buy on your table(or your lap), leaving it and continuing on around the place, and returning to collect the fee. Too bad I never needed three pairs of different-colored socks. Usually I just ignore them (the benefit of being a foreigner is pretending you don't understand them), put up a hand, or hand it back to them. I feel terrible for these kids having to learn such a shitty way of life so young. Oh well, T.I.A. (This Is Argentina). The other slight nuisance when walking around is people with flyers to hand out; sometimes I divert my path away, sometimes they walk up to me, and sometimes I have to face-check the person practically. I mean to tell them I'm uninterested in wasting paper, but they'll never know.

     I also spent this whole weekend after 5pm at the local feria artenasal (arts and crafts fair) some 15 blocks South of here. The first time I arrived there was on Saturday at 1pm, finding nothing but booth frames, and learning the correct time for sales. Meandering back I stopped in to a store called Lis de Plata, a souvenir shop with a lot of awesome stuff to browse through, from mate gourds and gaucho knives (facònes) to leather everything and alpaca wool socks. I picked up some cool things for myself and a few others.

I came back to the hostel, played some vicious foozball with an Ecuadorian, Spanish, and Argentine, then watched the intense world fùtbol game of Argentina vs. Spain with a large group of ever-arguing fellows.   

     Returning once again at the correct time to the feria (actually I was late by arriving at 9:30, with the feria closing at 11), I looked at tons of cool artwork of all types. Art in leather such as belts, wall masks and wallets, art in metal such as mini person sculptures, knives, and silverwork, and various ceramics and glasswares, not to mention the woodcrafts that included instruments and clocks and cutting boards. I totally enjoyed the live band, which was Afrocuban and Afrosudamerican music, and was super bummed to find out they didn't have a disco for sale. I gave them a hefty $10 peso tip (to them a lot, to me $2.70 US) and told them they need to make one.

     The Sunday feria was just as exciting, finding more stuff to peruse through and collect, including an incredible booth with stuff from all over the Americas. Run by a dude with long grey-black hair and an equally impressive beard (to which I was far outmatched), there were bracelets made of boar claws, amber and leather, shark tooth earrings, bracelets in cocodrillo, jaguar, fish, snake, and boar, earrings of wild tropical colored birds, and various other awesome collectibles. I had myself a go at some of the pieces, which will hopefully not raise a brow passing customs. ;)

     There was another band following the feria, this time one with some older rockers from the hippy days. And man, Còrdoba is full of hippies and students and probably drugs of the rainbow, just like O.B. (Ocean Beach for all you non-San Diegans). Anyways, the first song I heard upon arriving was ''Owner of a Lonely Heart'' by Yes, which I wanted to burst the stage to sing, since no one was singing it, and was a riff to jam on. After a few misc. instrumental covers more, they played ''Another Brick in the Wall Part II'' by Pink Floyd, for which I did work up the courage to offer my singing. After all, I'm American, know all the words, and can speak English, therefore making me the ideal candidate for the role. It was pretty badass, and I wonder what people thought of my foreign ways. Successful. Then they chose ''Another One Bites the Dust'' by Queen, which I hate. Still with the energy, I went with it, and totally bombed most of the lyrics, repeating lines or muttering so no one could tell it was more of a karaoke attempt. I also interspersed lines from ''Rapper's Delight'' in there, since they are practically the same song. Their own singer didn't like me, since I was already more of a fit for their band.

     Following this, I started home, unfortunately passing by a total drunk Rasputin-looking fellow by the name of Carmen. I tried to escape his drunken clutches and breath of Death, but no matter how much Castellano I used, he wouldn't let me saunder off by my lonesome. We stopped at a beautiful wall mural, so since I wanted to know what it represented, I decided to try and enjoy the conversation. We talked, argued, misunderstood each other, and more, when his ''brother'' came up to us to chat too. I guess he was Brazilian, which explains why I could only understand a few words. Eventually all the hammeredness started leaning more towards ''spare me 5 pesos'', and since I wasn't about to give away money, much less pull my wallet out in front of two transients, I had to think on my feet and begin the ''fight or flight'' mode. I bulshitted and said I lost all my money earlier, which was actually kind of true, since I did have a bag of goods from the feria. I also had my zippered sweatshirt hanging on my arm, and Carmen the bum, after constantly asking for money, took a firm grasp of the jacket saying he could sell it for 20 pesos. Luckily his ''¿brother?'' knew I was uncomfortable with this and helped calm Carmen down enough to let go of the jacket. I then concluded with ''Suerte'' (a common goodbye phrase meaning ''luck''), and Carmen screamed ¡NO HAY SUERTE! ¡NO HAY SUERTE! (There is no luck). I wonder what would have happened if I weren't such a charmer.

      Well, I'm still alive, and yesterday I walked to a beautiful cathedral from the 16th Century (Crèo). I had a field day with all of the impressive architecture, designs, smell, and artwork adorning the windows and walls and ceiling. Luckily I had my mp3 player, and, upon entering the cathedral, put on some Opeth, which is the perfect eerie, Gothic, acoustic music to accompany my memory of said structure. Pulling out my camera, I furiously snapped a couple hundred pics of the awesome lighting and angles and views from the tops of two flights of stairs. I will have to upload some excellent pictures of this for my ''Argentina highlights album''.
      So now I gotta pack up in a little bit and lounge around until my clothing arrives and my bus leaves, both with the same company at the bus terminal, Chevallier.  I really hope I end up in San Juan first thing tomorrow morning, since my clothing arrives only an hour short of my bus departure. Will update this when possible, but until then, all for now, more for later, this is Drew Peters.


1 comment:

  1. so i was thinking, as i read your post, you better bring me back something from your trip!!!! :) *for christmas you know, ill get you something from this foreign idaho place :)-ERin