On our last full day in Córdoba, we woke up early and walked to the bus station. About an hour outside of the city sat the little town of Alta Gracia. While the town housed notable artists and musicians over the years, the most famous (and controversial) former inhabitant was Che Guevara.
Argentina has a strange population distribution. Its largest city, Buenos Aires, is home to 13.5 million people. Córdoba is the second largest, with a population of 1.6 million. Jimi’s home city of Tucumán comes in sixth, at just under a million. But while the population of Córdoba is less than double that of Tucumán, the city feels ten times as big.
It’s Sunday. I am lazing in bed, watching football on my laptop, sipping hot coffee and eating a warm medialuna. Never in my life have I been able to do this combination of things. In the United States, I was either a) at church or b) at work on a Sunday morning. In honor of this life-changing experience, I have decided to write about all of the “Argentine things” that are no less than brilliant.
I saw Jimi grimace as I got out of the cab and onto the sidewalk downtown.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, concerned.
After two weeks of eating our way through Tucuman, Jimi and I decided it was time to embark on a roadtrip. Lonely Planet Argentina called Tafi del Valle a “lovely hill town.” Jimi remembered it as a sleepy little valley where his family went on vacations during the hot summer months. Tafi was only a two-hour bus ride away and offered a nice change of scenery— good enough of an excuse for me!
One of the main reasons (excuses?) I decided to move to Argentina was to learn the language. While I had three years of high school Spanish and always ordered “café con crema” from my favorite snack bar server at Annandale, in all honesty, my Spanish is terrible.
The first thing I noticed when I stepped outside the Buenos Aires airport was the air. It was my first breath of fresh air in over 45 hours; I could literally taste the difference on my tongue. The air was also chilly. I had left hot, muggy California summer behind and was entering the crisp bite of Argentina spring. I stood there a moment, breathing in the air and letting my eyes take in the sights of my new home for the next six months. My revelry was abruptly ended as Jimi waved me forward, calling out, “Vamos!” I readjusted my grip on my suitcases and followed him towards the shuttle platform.
Remember how a picture says a thousand words? This is a landscape photo of Patagonia, copied directly from a google images search. When I showed it to my dad, he said, “Wow, that looks more like a painting.” When I showed it to my boss, he said, “I bet you could catch some huge fish in that lake.” The first time I saw it, I thought of Tolkien’s Misty Mountains and the Mines of Moria glowing with gold.