I couldn’t think of any creative titles this time. Sorry, guys.
Jordan and I have been in the city of Cordoba for about a week and a half now, working at the hostel and getting to know the area. Jordan is taking some Spanish lessons, and I am practicing all the words I’d already forgotten from Nicaragua. I definitely need to work on expanding my vocabulary.
Cordoba is the second largest city in Argentina, with almost a million and a half people. It’s in the middle of northern Argentina, about 10 hours (by bus) from Buenos Aires, on the eastern coast, and the same from Mendoza, a border city with Chile at the foot of the Andes mountains. Founded in 1573, it was named after Cordoba, Spain, and was the capital of Argentina for a long time. In 1599 the Jesuits arrived, and today there is a UNESCO Heritage site called the “Jesuit Block,” where some of the oldest colonial buildings still stand today. This region also played a key role during the Argentine independence movement in the early 1800s.
So far, we haven’t seen much of the city, but I don’t think there’s a whole lot to see/do in Cordoba anyway. Most of the attractions are in the Sierras. There is a lovely plaza, however, called San Martin.
Behind me is the Cathedral of Cordoba, which was originally built in 1598. It was mostly destroyed in 1677 due to a construction malfunction. The building currently standing dates back to 1709. Plaza San Martin is a great place to hang out, watch the stray dogs and pigeons, or people watch. We went on a lazy Sunday afternoon, so there was very little to do except read a book and watch pigeons. Which was perfectly fine–we enjoyed ourselves.
The statue in the middle of the plaza is of General San Martin, who the plaza in named after. He was the primary leaders in the fight for Peru’s and Argentina’s independence from Spain in the early 1800s.
The Sierras Chicas surround the western and southern edges of the city, and there are many quaint mountain towns in the countryside. Many of these towns are distinctly European, for Argentina has attracted Europeans for hundreds of years. The largest amounts of immigrants (to this day) are the Spanish, German, and Italian. The Spanish, obviously were most present during the colonial period. Italians began coming during industrialization, at the end of the 19th century, and many, many Germans came at the end of World War II. In fact, one of the towns in the Sierras is predominately German, and a few of the Argentinians locals privately call it “Nazi town.” And, truth be told, there probably are a few gray-haired former Nazis there.
The Sierras are a cluster of beautiful peaks with rugged trees and bushes. Rivers crisscross the mountains and pool into a few lakes near the bottom of the range. There are several towns, most of which rely on tourism (foreign backpackers and other Argentinians alike). Cosquin is one of the most popular to visit because of its’ numerous festivals. The longest, oldest, and best attended is the National Folklore festival, which runs for ten days, usually in January or February. We were able to go to one of the last nights.
The festival’s activities take place primarily at night, and the bus from Cordoba takes about an hour and a half to get there, roughly 90 pesos roundtrip. For a week and a half there are dancing parties, concerts, streets bands, and more, all playing traditional Argentinian music. Developed in the 1960s, it is a way to remember the roots of the people and enjoy good, old-fashioned music. Some people come wearing traditional garb. Others dance in the street to the music of the street bands–and it’s very graceful. I found myself wanting to jump into the square with them, snapping my fingers, but I didn’t know the steps.
This dude was the first winner of the festival, back in the ’60s, and the modern plaza is named after him. Music goes on until at least midnight, so if you plan to go next year, don’t arrive before five and plan to stay late! Bus run through most of the night, so it won’t be hard to return to Cordoba.
Our next stop is the German town.