Hola! Writing this in Cordoba, Argentina´s second largest city, in the heart of the country. When I arrived on Friday morning after a long uncomfortable overnight bus journey, it was grey and wet which did nothing to help my low spirits. YET AGAIN, I was the victim of a robbery, this time on the bus. Unfortunately, I fell asleep my with MP3 player on. I remember thinking before I dropped off that I should put it away but I was enjoying listening to it. Anyway, I must have been sleeping pretty soundly because whoever took it managed to get the earphones out of my ears without me waking up! Grrrrr. I was pretty gutted as I had over 2000 songs on there and it is my constant companion on my travels. The people of this continent rob you blind!! Anyway, what can you do except accept it and continue to be as vigilant as possible. Everyone seems to fall victim to it as some stage. I got an email from Ringo the other day - his bag was robbed in Buenos Aires with his passport, MP3 player, money, plane tickets...all in it. It´s crap when it happens, but in the overall scheme of things, when you weigh up the good and bad experiences here, it doesnt really matter.
Cordoba is a lovely city, full of students and beautiful Jesuit architecture. The centre is compact and easy to navigate on foot and Ive really enjoyed wandering the little streets over the last few days. The people are extremely friendly and it feels much safer than any of the cities I have been in so far.
I met up with a few people I already knew from Santiago, including Karen, the Irish girl from Donegal and have been hanging out with her for the last few days. It was a long weekend here in Argentina. Not only was it Father´s Day on Sunday, but they were also celebrating the day of their national flag on Monday. Apparently, the Argentinian flag was the first of the South American countries and they are very proud of this fact. As the city was like a ghost town on monday, we hopped on a bus into the mountains to a little town called Alta Gracia...the childhood home of the revolutionary leader, Che Guevara. The house is turned into a museum now and we spent a veryenjoyable few hours there. Afterwards, we visited the home of the Argentinian composer, Marcus La Falla. I had never actually heard of him before. Finally, we spent some time on a Jesuit estancia (ranch) in the town. The Jesuit order owned many such ranches throughout Argentina in years gone by, and they kept many black slaves who worked the land. Pretty informative afternoon all around!
The food here in Argentina is absolutely AMAZING! and every backpacker you meet is dining like a king every night. For $6-10 here, you can get a steak which would set you back €30 at home! Wine is dirt cheap and excellent. Also, the people in this country are really stylish and dress really well. Even though the economy is in the doldrums (with 50% of the population below the poverty line), they seem to maintain a pretty good standard of living.
So, tomorrow I am heading to a little town in the Sierras called La Cumbra.