Drink met mate

23 02 2010

In the morning Jola went and bought some mate (with a hint of peppermint) for her gourd but then discovered that she’d prepared it incorrectly overnight. Instead of steeping it just in hot water you were also supposed to put some tea in it and leave it overnight. The mate gourd was therefore ruined and she needed to get a new one. The ongoing quest for the mate gourd was back on!

Since we’d barely seen anything of Córdoba the previous day Jola and I decided to head into town. We were diverted a bit by an art museum just near the hostel. The collection was quite varied: including traditional portraits and landscapes, modern art and a rather freaky series of paintings apparently where there were naked women being tortured by evil-looking inquisitors.  We were already hungry so we decided to head to a parrilla where we had two different types of steak, some fries and a salad between us. It was way too much food but at least it set us up for the day.

On the way back from the river the previous night we’d past a “cursed” church where they’d not finished one of the towers because of something had happened whilst they were building it (not sure what). Jola was determined that we had to find this church (even though we didn’t know what it was called) so we wandered around seemingly every single church we could find on the map (and there are a lot in Córdoba) to no avail.

One of the many churches in Córdoba - this one unfortunately had all its spires

Eventually Jola decided that she’d have a go at navigating and, true to form, she got us completely lost in the main shopping streets; where surprisingly there was a distinct absence of places of worship. (Unless you’re like Becky and worship high-end shoe stores).

Eventually we gave up trying to find the church and headed back to the hostel to get ready to leave. Foxy regaled me with a few tales of his sexual conquests (despite his direct approach he’d managed to snog Clare the previous night; although they were barely speaking to each other now) and then it was time to say goodbye to everyone. I was especially sad to say goodbye to Rory and Foxy although there was a vague possibility that I’d meet up with Rory again later on since he was travelling for quite a while.

We headed off to the bus station with an hour to spare but Jola was still stressing even though it was only a 15 minute walk. Since Córdoba was a much smaller bus station than Retiro it was a lot less scary but Jola was unable to relax until our bus turned up and we loaded our bags ready for our overnight trip to Salta.

Swimming in Córdoba

22 02 2010

I woke up as we were coming into Córdoba feeling surprisingly refreshed considering I’d just spent the night sleeping on a bus. We met up with Rory again as we waited to get our bags and decided to head into the bus terminal for a coffee to work out what hostel to stay in.

After consulting the Lonely Planet and Footprint we decided on the Tango Inn hostel (seems to be a common name in Argentina). It was quite a walk from the bus station but since it was really nice weather and it was still early in the morning we decided to walk there. Before we left, Jola and I booked some bus tickets for the next leg of our journey to Salta for the following evening.

We all managed to get a bed each in a dorm and, after grabbing a quick shower, we were debating what to do next when Felipe, one of the staff at the hostel, told us that a bunch of people were heading out-of-town to a nearby river for a barbecue and drinks. It sounded like good fun so the three of us signed up for it straight-away.

Although we were supposed to leave at 10:30 there seemed to be a few logistical hitches so it was nearly an hour later before we all left the hostel. With Rory, Jola and myself there was Max (English), Eva (from Munich), Isabella (Belgian), Jacob and Sofia (Danish), Hanna (Swedish) and Mike (Swiss). We first headed to the nearby bus station to catch a local bus up to the river. It took probably an hour for the bus to get there.

When we arrived, Felipe introduced us to his family who were preparing the barbecue for us. It was quite weird kissing guys on the cheek to say hello but I guess when in Rome you should do as the Romanians do.

After lunch (there was a lot of meat!) we headed down to the river for a swim. The current was absolutely mental and if you put your shoulders underneath you quite often found yourself flung a hundred metres downstream after being dragged across the rocks. It was an interesting experience!

Swimming in the river

Between swims we sun bathed and passed around a hollowed-out melon filled with wine (apparently a local speciality) and some large Quilmes beers. After a great afternoon we then headed back to the hostel. We got a different type of bus this time and it took forever before we arrived back.

Back at the hostel we had the option of getting a home-cooked dinner (chop suey) for 24 pesos (8 bucks). It seemed like a cheap and easy option so we decided to do that and washed it down with a few beers. We discovered that the beers from the supermarket next door to the hostel were cheaper than those sold by the hostel but we were still allowed to buy them and bring them back. At dinner we also met Clare (from Michigan) and Foxy from Ireland.

Foxy told us that he worked for the Irish government and that he was travelling for 3 years and still getting paid. Apparently he had a brilliant contract which meant he was effectively employed until retirement age and because of the economic downturn they had offered him 3 years off work whilst they paid him a small monthly stipend (a lot less than his monthly salary but enough to live in South America for). I think everyone at the table was insanely jealous.

We then played a drinking game “This is the witch” where you have to hold out an object (for example a bottle) to a person around the table and they had to reply “The what?”. This had to be repeated back down the chain until you got back to the first person who then said “The witch” which then when back up the chain until the new recipient replied “Ah, the witch!” and then selected a new victim.

It was quite an easy game (although Jola still struggled) until the chain got too convoluted and went back and forth to people who were already in an earlier part of the chain but when Foxy joined in it was even more confused mostly because he only wanted to pass the witch to Clare and was using it very directly to chat her up.

I couldn’t really work out how he expected such a direct approach to work but apparently it had paid dividends on more than one occasion. After a few more drinks I decided to call it a night – although I could still hear the others in the courtyard drinking and laughing so it wasn’t the best night’s sleep ever.