First 3 weeks in Argentina

Trip Start Oct 12, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Well, on the road again we are, and wow, it is a trek to get to Cordoba, Argentina! A 5 hour flight to Dallas, an 8 hour layover, a 10 hour flight to Buenos Aires, a 45 minute cab ride to the bus station then an 11 hour bus ride to Cordoba, with all the waiting in between, it took 43 hours to get here!!!!! The bus drivers are madmen; they drive massive double-decker buses that make the average Canadian teen in a Mustang look like a complete pussy.
We've been here for just over 2 weeks and mi espanol es muy mal, however slowly but surely I'm learning.

Cordoba is both beautiful and dirty. Sommer accurately calls it a cross between Europe and Mexico.

EUROPE) Plenty of old churches and colonial buildings, almost every block has a small fruit stand, bakery, café, and clothing store. Everyone drives small cars or likely walks because it's usually easier. There are Plazas (parks) every ten blocks or so. The people are very nice (judging from their tones, of course).

MEX) Like the bus drivers, EVERY driver in this country is crazy. I'm guessing if the car isn't written off after a drivers test, then it's a pass. Most people reside in tall apartment buildings in the downtown mostly because you're less likely to be robbed as opposed to a house which is a much easier target. No one trusts the banks so they risk keeping it under their mattress or spending it. The neighborhoods on the city's outskirts are where the poorest people live in tiny run down houses with garbage everywhere. Police units are setup at the main entrances so clueless people don't go in because they're not likely to come out. The police don't even enter so it's sort of a no rules zone.

On October 17 we celebrated dia del madre (mother's day) at a small town called Arroyo Cabral 2 hours drive from Cordoba where Ivan grew up and where a lot of his family resides. It's a town of 4500 where a lot of peanuts and soybeans are grown and they manufacture dulce de leche (heroine in the form of a toffee/caramel-like liquid). It was like hanging around my own family except I couldn't understand a word of what was being said. Then I made all the men look bad by helping to clean up after the meal and that sparked a good debate about women's rights. I was really patting myself on the back with that move.

Of course every now and then ya need a little familiarity and for my birthday it was my choice of things to do to celebrate. So after careful consideration of the options; nice dinner in the park, a drink at the pub, check out some of the many colonial buildings, etc. I decided to go with (ready for this...) seeing a movie! We watched a great Spanish flick called La Terminal with Tom Hanks. Okay so I exaggerated, it only had Spanish subtitles. Good movie to watch if you haven't seen it. In discussions about it afterwards I was asking "Boy, could you image being in his situation where you're in a country and no one speaks your language??" Victor, I feel for ya buddy.

We took a night out to go see a small orchestra for a night of tango music in a super old opera house which was really cool. Tango originated in Argentina so it was the authentic stuff (ya, like I'd know) but that being said, I quite enjoyed it.

Every Sunday in Cordoba there's a good size artists market which is trouble because with one peso being around $0.42 CDN there's some bang for your buck. Sommer and I set spending limits and easily reached them in no time.

So that's been me for the last 17 days. Sommer and I are planning a trip to Peru and another to Brazil so I'm expecting those'll deliver with lots to write about. Talk to ya soon!!

If there's anyone who didn't get this email and would actually want it, feel free to forward it and/or send me their email address.

Hasta luego mi amigos,
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