Last weekend the majority of my group was going skiing in the Andes. As I’m not the biggest fan of skiing I managed to convince my friend to venture to the Cordoba (another province and the one in Argentina, not Spain, just to be clear) with me. There are these great double decker sleeper buses that you can take all over Argentina. It was in one of these that we embarked on our eight hour journey Friday night. It was great! The seats have foot rests and go all the way back, they give you a blanket and a pillow, and put on a movie. It would have all been perfect if our seats hadn’t been right across from the door. Basically every time the bus stopped for more passengers, the door would swing open, making way for a blast of cold air, bright lights, and voices to enter the bus, and subsequently waking me up. Therefore it was only natural that our first activity in Cordoba was to take siestas.
When we finally did drag ourselves up and out of the hotel, we went sightseeing around the city, which has a heavy Jesuit influence (The first university founded in Argentina is in Cordoba and was started by the Jesuits). We walked to the main plaza, walked around the peotonal, went to two art museums, and strolled around the main park. In one of the museums there were a series of photographs where the photographer had frozen flowers and other plants in blocks of ice. The resulting images were strikingly beautiful. I really liked the idea of something so vibrantly colorful and alive rendered immutable and frozen in time by the surrounding ice.
Visually Cordoba looks a lot like Mendoza in my opinion. The buildings are similarly styled, the huge central parks could be easily confused, and the weather is pretty similar from what I could tell, though my host mom tried to tell me otherwise. In the afternoon we went to an artisanal market that was very cool and unique. Lots of crafty type goods and antiques. We then took a second siesta respite in order to be able to go out for dinner at 10 PM along with the rest of Argentina.
The next day was Sunday and Kid’s Day, a national holiday in the same spirit as Mother’s and Father’s days. We spent the morning wandering around some more and going into churches, because that’s really all there is to do in Argentina on Sundays.
When we had reached our limit of church viewing we went to the tourism office to see if they had any other suggestions of things to see or do. They suggested we go to another city nearby, which we decided to skip for fears of potentially missing the bus back to Cordoba and then being late for our bus back to Mendoza. Instead we went to the mall and saw Despicable Me 2, which was awesome! So cute and fun to see in Spanish. Since there was really nothing else to see in the city we ended up spending the rest of the day (5 hours to be exact) at the mall, which was packed with families celebrating Kid’s Day together. The bus ride home was a much more successful sleeping experience for me.
This weekend is our last before classes start on Monday. Today a bunch of us decided to go on a tour of a mine in the foothills of the Andes. It was a two hour drive to get to the mine. When we arrived, we were outfitted with harnesses, hardhats with headlights, and gloves. High ho, high ho, its off to work we go!
Though I was excited, I was a bit apprehensive, as I kept thinking about the Chilean miners that got stuck in a mine a few years ago. But after a short drive further to the mine, I was on my hands and knees, crawling inside. This proved to be a bit of a struggle because it was so cold that my hands and toes were frozen! The mine is no longer operational, however it was used to mine lead and silver. There are four levels down, with the fourth being full of water that gutsy scuba divers often use for some kind of fun that I don’t understand. Seriously – it was even more freezing in the mine then outside and it remains at this incredibly cold temperature all year long.
In order to get from the first level to the second we repelled down a hole, which was really fun. Though it looked a bit scary, upon reaching the bottom level I wanted to do it again! But sadly we took stairs to get down to the third level. It was so cool to see the minerals on the rocks and imagine what it must have been like when the mine was functional. Let’s just say I don’t think I could have been a miner!