Published: May 9th 2010May 9th 2010
Hi all, it has been many months since I have updated my blog. I gues I have been thinking about it in the back of my mind and processing my thoughts and perhaps this has led to a clarity produced by time and distance? Anyway we shall see. For the next hour or so I will try to get back inside the experience I had and relay it to you. Although I may miss some details, our memory is basically perception isn't it?
After Brasil I said goodbye to my travel friends - Frederico, Fabio (the Italians) and Hilde (the Dutch girl). There is always something bittersweet about goodbyes I find and no matter how many I do I am never good at them. There is the twinge of sadness of leaving people who you've had experiences with and explored places and talked with, and the excitement of being free to explore new places again on your own and meet new people. You kind of start on a new blank piece of paper and can throw yourself to the wind again, tucking your prior experiences under your belt. I hopped on a bus bound for Cordoba in Argentina. It was Christmas time and I was going to spend the week with my boyfriend Derick, who I had seen on and off every month or so while travelling. I had never been to Cordoba before although it was my second trip to Argentina. It was a 24 hour bus from tropical Iguazu to rural Cordoba and I basically had the bus to myself with a German girl in the seat next to me, a second floor front seat view, and meals complete with champagne! It was quite luxurious but calculating, I had been on the bus about 60 hours in one week phew!
Upon arrival I waited for the shabby old car of the owner of the farm where Derick worked. Derick and our host arrived and I hopped into the ricketly old beast and we drove through the township and up a long gravel driveway into the hills where the small organic farm lay. I was shown Derick's basic room where I could stay and would take cold showers after long days in the field. We had a big lunch with the family and the children aged 17, 15 and 13, and the other woofer, a girl named Olatz from the Basque part of Spain. Lunch was a great affair with brown rice, cooked vege in a white sauce, followed by home made yogurt and fruit. It was all food they had made on the land and the kind of dinner which took 2 hours to digest and often required a quiet siesta or a few rounds of cards. I stayed with the family for a week and it was a great re-introduction to Spanish as I listened and then slowly partook in coversations around the dinner table. I had been speaking Portugues laced with Spanish and English for the past month so it took a little while to readjust. And I learnt new words such as 'cocechar' to pick (fruit or veges). I worked in the fields alongside Derick and Olatz although no formal agreement had been made, I thought it best to work a bit in exchange for my board. I learnt which strawberries were ripe, how to milk a cow (and herd it to the barn in the first place) and pick and process echinacea. It was challanging on those days when the sun shone strong onto our backs and faces with the concentration of a poker player at the last table. I was lucky that week with Chrismas as we had two days in addition off. On the day before Christmas was only worked half a day then the family went to the neighbours up the road with food we had made for a Christmas eve dinner. It was very relaxed with people milling around, talking, a fire in the backyard, dogs sitting around and chrildren running after them. We even had empanadas for dinner - my favorite! It was nice that it was different to the usaual fill-yourself-with-food-until-you're-stuffed affair around a dinner table that is usaual at my house. Near to Midnight we sat and had a christmas story read to us and then had a toast to Christmas with Champagne. Next the group went to the stall of the cow to sing her a carol before the opening of presents at midnight. By this point Derick and I were a little tired and as our room was just be the cow's stall we snuck off to bed.
The next day was nothing special - everyone was still sleeping as they had been up until 1am opening presents. It was a day of rest. Following this I started getting itchy feet and did not want to wear off my welcome. I started thinking about going towards Bolivia, perhaps through Salta. Olatz was also at the end of her two month stint at the farm and wanted to hitch to Mendoza - the capital of great Argentinean wine and right by the mountains (Andes) between Argentina and it's neighbour Chile. She asked me to come with her. I thought about it. Eventually I said yes. It was a chance to practice my Spanish more and for a bit of adventure and I don't mind hitchhiking if it's with someone else. So off we went.