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Published: March 4th 2008
Carnaval: Un chico indian del America del Sur
A little Native South American Indian boy dressed up in full costume. This was at the Carnaval celebration in Cordoba.
Okay, it's been more than two weeks since I last published an entry and SOOO much has happened. Sorry, I haven't been able to update it sooner, I have had more homework and been doing more stuff than you can imagine!!!
Three weekends ago, I just stayed in Buenos Aires and got some homework done and such. Then we had three days of classes and we were supposed to take our first official excursion (planned by CofC) to Iguazu Falls (which are like the Niagra Falls of South America but bigger) in the Misiones province, but the trip was canceled due to a yellow fever outbreak in Paraguay and Brazil which border the falls with Argentina. We found out two days before we were supposed to leave, and classes were already canceled on Thursday so we had a four day weekend with nothing to do all of a sudden. So we were all scrambling around trying to find somewhere else to go or to see if we could go the Falls on our own since there were no reports of outbreaks on the Argentina side. But end the end we decided that it's better to be safe than
sorry and decided to go to Cordoba for the weekend.
Cordoba is about 10 hours away from Buenos Aires by bus. So we left on Wednesday night and drove all night so we could arrive next morning. However, since it was at night we all slept and missed our stop to exchange buses, which we didn't know that we had to do. Luckily our bus driver was very nice and understanding and from the town, Capilla del Monte, where we were supposed to change buses and drove us back an hour and got us on the right bus to Cordoba. He even gave us coupon cards to the cabanas or cabins he owned in the town and told us we could come and stay one weekend for $30 pesos a night or basically $10 USD! So we finally arrived in Cordoba on Thursday morning about 11am and took a taxi to the hostel. After we checked in we found the closet shopping mall since it was raining outside and we weren't able to do any of the other outdoor activities we had planned on doing that day.
Later that night the rain finally let up, and we
Mujer en Disfraz
Woman in fancy dress
went to the central park of Cordoba called Parque Sarmiento where we had heard a Carnaval celebration was supposed to take place that night! Remember, Carnaval is like their Mardi Gras! Sorry boys, there were no "throw me a bead mister" moments however as you can tell from some of the pictures the women's costumes didn't have very much material. The celebration was fantastic! As we got out of the taxi and were walking into the park we could hear the music and the pounding of drums! It was a traditional parade of different cultural, musical, dance groups and bands. There was a group of South American Indians who were dressed in full costume, dancing, and running around in circles and blowing whistles like CRAZY! Next we saw a group of scantily clad women and young girls dancing some kind of traditional dance. We walked down a little further and found a place to stand at the barricades so we could see a the huge stage they had set up. There were many other groups but the two last ones were most memorable. The first was a band or drum line of guys and women and girls dressed up as
butterflies, faeries, and wearing really fancy dresses. And last but certainly not least was a group with a fire breather. It was an incredible night and experience! Oh, and I forgot to mention that everyone had a can of what we thought was silly string at first, but it turned out to be foam. So needless to say we were all covered in foam by then end of the night as you can tell from the pictures. And that was just Thursday!
We woke up early Friday morning to go to the country or as they call it "campo." We had signed up to go as a guided excursion with a group from the hostel, but it turned out just to be us, because the other two girls who were supposed to go had stayed out too late the night before. It was about a two hour trip outside the city up into the mountains and countryside to a little pueblo called Agua de Oro (Water of Gold or Gold Water). First we went to a fresh produce market and got some things to eat for lunch, and then Ivanna, our guide from the hostel, led us to
a nearby campground, she just so happened to work at two years ago, where we picnicked. After a scrumptious little lunch we attempted to go hiking along the river running through the campground, but the trail was blocked from trees that had fallen during the storm the day before. So we decided to go ahead and head out to the ranch to go horseback riding. When we arrived at the ranch, it was closed an no one was there. Turns out the owner decided to go to lunch and close down for the day since there were threatening rain clouds in the sky! But luckily Ivanna had his phone number and called to say that we were there. We fed one of the horses while we were waiting and took turns sitting on an old rusted tractor for a photo op. He came about and hour and a half later and as soon as he got there it started to rain! So we waited about 2 more hours in the little hut on the ranch until the rain blew over and the sun came back out finally. Then it took another hour for his workers to show up and another
Faerie de Marica Chica
Butterfly fairy girl also at Carnaval
30 minutes to an hour to round up the horses! But in the end we FINALLY got to go horseback riding or as they call it "cabalgata." The ride was so much fun and the views were absolutely stunning as if all that waiting had been just for beautiful views as you can see from the pictures. We returned to the campground to end the night with a traditional South American barbecue which they call "asado" which is actually the cooking technique of barbecuing. We walked up above the campground to the restaurant where the barbecue was supposed to be held, but when we arrived the restaurant was closed and no one was in sight. Sound familiar. Luckily yet again, the owner's just so happened to drive up in their car at that moment. Turns out they never got the word we were coming and didn't have any food to even prepare since they weren't even planning on opening the restaurant that night. But George, one of the owner's along with his wife Cristina, ran down the mountain to get beef, ribs, chicken, and other supplies for the asado. While he was gone Cristina led us down the edge of
Amigas cubren en espuma!
The girls got covered in foam, and were making sad faces.
the cliff the restaurant, called El Refugio, sits on where they have a deck/huge gazebo for outdoor dining, and gave us some sparkling white wine and olives to sip and munch on. Then we went on down the mountainside to the river and I got in and went swimming, since I had had my bathing suit on all day since we were told we could go swimming in the river, but didn't have the chance to because of the rain delay for the cabalgata. Then it got dark and we went back up to the restaurant where George was back firing up the natural outdoor grill carved into the side of the cliff. Cristina brought out some drinks and bread basket with dips which we munched on while she prepared some freshly made salads which was delicious. They brought out the different meats in courses or basically as soon as each finished cooking. First we had summer sausage which they call "chorizo" and another type of link sausage which is more of a pureed sausage inside of a link. It looks disgusting but tastes wonderful! Next was the chicken, which is probably some of the best juiciest and most flavorful
Mi cubrido en espuma
Me covered in foam, right in the face.
chicken I have had in my life! And last we had some spare ribs, which I didn't particularly care for since they were cooked medium rare. We were so full that we couldn't finish everything but Cristina gave us some to-go boxes to take back to the hostel. Finally we walked down the mountain in the dark, and saw more stars in the sky than I have ever seen before!!! And they were all so bright. Then we boarded the bus back to Cordoba. All in all, despite the disorganization of the hostel guide, the day was truly wonderful and I will always remember it and the fact that even if things look like they aren't going to work out you just have to have a little patience and things will go your way.
Saturday we got up around eleven and checked out of the hostel because we were in a dorm room with two other creepy guys who the girls didn't like and trekked to another hostel on the other side of the city where we were able to get a room of four just to ourselves for only a peso more than the other hostel we
Un hombre de fuego
Last but not least, the fire breather.
were staying at. We made reservations to go skydiving the next morning at 8:30am, and left to catch a minibus to a nearby German town called Villa General Belgrano that we heard was supposed to be really cool. It was a four hour bus ride through the mountains and the views were once again priceless. When we arrived the town was in siesta until 5pm when all the shops would open back up. So we sat down and had a late lunch. The town is a true mountain town having rustic wooden signs for all the businesses and restaurants, no neon lights in sight. Then we walked up and down the main street souvenir shopping and exploring all the neat little stores. We found the chocolate factory we had heard about, which was more like a chocolate shop, so we bought some German chocolate and enjoyed the sweet richness of it melting in our mouths. Then we went on a tour of a beer or "cerveza" factory where the explained the process of how the beer is fermented, stored, packaged, and which hops they use for which beer. We also got to climb a ladder up to the top of
Nuestro Guia nos esta encabezando a traves la puente
Our guide Ivanna leading us across the bridge into the campground in Auga del Oro which was named after the river you see in the picture.
one of the storage containers where they took off the lid and let us smell the barrel of German honey beer which smelled really good! After the tour we got to sample a pint of our choosing, and so naturally I chose the honey one, which was excellent. Then we finally took a bus back to Cordoba since we had to wake up bright and early the next morning for skydiving!
We woke up Sunday morning to a cloudy sky, but it wasn't raining yet. So we had the hostel call the skydiving instructor and he told us to come on. We arrived at the air field, which was literally a dirt road to the hangar and a grass field for the runway, and received our instruction for how to sky dive. Then they told us to chill out to see if the clouds would blow over. We played some cards games while waiting and keeping our fingers crossed, but it started to rain and all hopes were lost. He told us to go back to the city and if it cleared up later that afternoon he would give us a call but we knew in the back
La hierda de Gabby
Gabby's wound from falling on the gravel road on the walk down to the bride/campground.
of our minds: no skydiving for us today... We went back to the city and had brunch since we hadn't eaten yet (especially not before jumping out of a plane) and then decided to take a self-guided historical tour of the city since everything else was closed because it was Sunday. We visited the main plaza where the city was founded - Plaza San Martin, the main Cathedral and many other old churches, banks, and historical buildings. Then since it was still raining and we had done everything the city/area had to offer, we decided to go catch a movie until it was time to head back to the bus station. We watched "The Bucket List" in English with Spanish subtitles which is titled in spanish "Antes de partir" which literally means "before leaving." Then we finally went to the bus station and caught our all night bus back to Buenos Aires. I was truly an extraordinary trip and I would love to go back any time!
We had classes that Monday and then on Tuesday for my History and Culture of Latin America class we took a field trip to the Legislature of the City of Buenos
Picnic at the campground.
Aires where all the city representatives meet. The building is very historical with many statues, rooms, and monuments of prominent leaders from the past that we have learned about. We were able to see where they meet, which looked like the room where US Senators or Representatives or the UN representatives meet. Then the tour guide took us to the two libraries in the building one for books called the "bibliloteca," and one for newspapers, magazines, and journals called the "hemeroteca." We needed to know where these were and how to use them because we have a final project for the class where we have to visit and use sources from three different libraries in the city to research about the historical development of a specific topic in a particular neighborhood or "barrio" in Buenos Aires. I think I am going to do something about the history of health in which ever barrio has the most history of it. Afterwards, we ate lunch with our professor at a very old Puerto Rican cafe that has been part of the history of Buenos Aires for a very long time, and then proceeded on to the Ethnographic Museum of the City where
This is the tree we were sitting under while eating our picnic.
we learned about the different cultural and indigenous groups that first inhabited the are of Buenos Aires which we have to present a report on tomorrow.
Classes finished again on Thursday, then on Friday I was able to go see the BODIES Exhibit on the last day it was being displayed in Buenos Aires. If you haven't heard of the bodies exhibit you should check out the website: http://www.bodiestheexhibition.com/bodies.html which is currently in many different cities including Pittsburgh, New York, Ft. Lauderdale, Cincinnati, and San Diego. They take real human bodies of people that have donated theirs to science and cut the layers of skin, muscle, bone, and fat in different ways to reveal the different systems of the body so that one can see the nerves, blood vessels, bones, muscles, fat, skin, digestive system, reproductive organs, etc. It is was so amazing, especially since I took a Human Anatomy class last semester, if only the exhibit had been near Charleston at the time of my exam I might have made an A instead of a B. If you get the chance to go, take it, even if your squeamish, it is definitely worth seeing!
Abrigo de fiesta campestre
Picnic shelter, with graffiti artwork
past weekend, I was pretty productive, getting a lot of grammar homework done as well as starting on another paper and the report for the museum. I also applied for several summer internships in many different cities including New York, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Boston, Mexico City, Mexico, and also Harvard. They all have to deal with the health education and health research fields which is what I'm pretty sure I want to go into. I just need an internship now to truly find out. I don't know when I will hear back but hopefully it will be by the end of March or mid April so that I can start making arrangements for this summer.
Then on Sunday I was able to attend a Futbol or Soccer game with one of Argentina's two biggest teams River Plate (the other is La Boca which they say the fans are a little more ghetto and violent). I don't really enjoy watching sports but the game was really exciting and the fans were more into the game than any other sports game I have watched. They were hanging over the railings, jumping up and down and they kept singing/chanting songs the
whole time going back and forth with the fans from the other team who were significantly less but still put on a show throwing confetti and releasing green smoke (the color of their team) when their team came onto the field or scored a goal. It started to rain the second half, luckily I had my umbrella or "paraguas" as it is in Spanish, but it didn't hold up for long, and by the end of the game which River Plate unfortunately lost we were all soaked. Then the police wouldn't let everyone out of the stadium at the same time so that it wouldn't be too congested on the street and we had to wait in a packed crowd by the door for about 30 minutes and when they finally opened the door, we had to hold our own not to get trampled. Lets just say I made it out alive and that what they say about crazy soccer or futbol fans of South America is true!
I have class at two today, two again tomorrow, and then on Wednesday we have to go in to class earlier than usual at 9:30am instead of 10:15 because there
is going to be two guest speakers and then we are going to visit a detention center as part of the Latin American and Caribbean studies class, so that should be fun and very interesting. I still have not started my Special Assignment Abroad class but we are supposed to get the information of the different companies this week so that we can set up interviews to intern there. I am hoping to work in an HIV/AIDS clinic since that is the health related option.
Otherwise all is good in Buenos Aires, I am missing home like crazy but its hard to think about since things are so great here and I hardly have time to turn around before the next thing is happening. Our second excursion to the Northwest region of Argentina with Spring Break to follow should be a nice break and then its back to classes after that. As always, if you have any comments or hellos send them my way! Amor y Paz (Love and Peace), Caleb.
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