Wandering Around the Córdoba Province

IMG_4708I landed in Buenos Aires on a Sunday evening. A friend from high school was staying in the city with his aunt and uncle and so graciously picked me up, mate (find out more about this super cool tradition here) in hand. The next 48 hours with Matt included a bit of sightseeing, broken conversations with his family and figuring out how to handle the $1,400 plane ticket I absolutely had to purchase to get into the country.

Eventually, we met up with Anna at Hostel Suites Palermo. Anna and I studied abroad together in Thailand, becoming inseparable since the moment we met during our layover in the Chicago airport. I found out she had a three-week trip planned to Argentina via Facebook and when I finally made the decision to embark on this journey, I instantly fit her in my plans. This meant flying from Ecuador to Argentina—a serious expense and a wrench in my north-to-south direct route—but I wasn’t about to pass up an opportunity to share another travel experience with her.

Matt and I decided to head to the Cordoba region a few weeks prior, and Anna jumped on board after figuring out a few more of her solo-travel plans. Hugs ensued, introductions were made and beers were consumed before we were on the night bus headed to Cordoba.

Cordoba: Travel connections are the most magical of things. My fellow Workaway volunteer in Sinchal, Ecuador, Leti, lives with her brother in Cordoba and when she heard I was headed there, offered her bed and couch for a few days. Her brother, Emilio, welcomed us with open arms and showed us around the city a bit. As the second largest city in Argentina, it was as expected: crowded, uneven sidewalks and commercial districts.

During lunch on a patio, we witnessed graduation celebrations—quite the difference from the typical nice, calm family get-togethers in the States. New grads wear minimal clothing, sometimes hold signs hinting at their degree, while family and friends douse them in a combo of eggs, flour, paint and anything else available. The evidence is hard to miss around the city, especially as they drive around in the back of pick-up trucks honking and yelling to celebrate their success.

There are some nice churches, a few museums we didn’t enter and a lively nightlife scene (thanks to the universities) that I didn’t witness. Probably worth a stopover if you have time, but not so much a destination I’m dying to see again.

Villa Carlos Paz: Two hours west of Cordoba, this is a serious resort town for locals, which probably made our makeshift picnic on the municipal building a taboo. Matt wandered into the tourist office to ask for potential hostels and we trekked a ways to find Carlos Paz Hostel. Not only did we have the dorm to ourselves, but the entire hostel and immediately went to the rooftop deck for a breather. After a while, we took a walk to the nearby lake, Lago San Roque, and watched families enjoy their afternoon. There’s a main drag nearby, which was way over-commercialized, offering everything from your typical Spring Break neon tanks to “Villa Carlos Paz” mate sets. Deciding to save a bit of money, we grabbed a few things at the grocery store and made a lovely pasta dinner back at the hostel, guzzled some wine and created a giant cuddle fest by pulling our mattresses to the floor to watch some Netflix and round out the day.

Nono: Saving the best for last, Matt, Anna and I hopped off on the side of the road in Nono without a plan. We slogged around in the heat with our packs, hoping to come across the Nono Hostel but without luck, we ended up at the tourist center instead. Map in hand, we checked in to what seemed like our only option in the tiny village. It was another only-us situation and we took a few minutes to settle in before heading out to explore.

The town’s name actually comes from ‘Nuno,’ which means “woman’s breast”—mirroring the imagery that two nearby hills create. There was a short and sweet historical trail to follow downtown, with plaques on important buildings and accompanying murals and poems. We walked down a dirt road past a multitude of campgrounds to El Rio de los Sauces. Families were drinking mate, kids were playing and splashing and women were sunbathing. It was a perfect spot to hang out for a bit in the midst of the Sierras. Ready for some wi-fi, we headed back into town and ate at the first restaurant we saw.

I was ready for some hiking, so we decided to trek out to a nearby museum and potential trail. We certainly underestimated the heat and distance, so we only made it to the museum. But on our way, we came across the Arroyo de los Patos: A magical land of rocks with a mountain-fresh stream running through, creating cutouts and pockets for swimming. We went a bit photo crazy and took a minute to rest and enjoy the moment before continuing on.

The 6km walk down a flat, dirt road sans shade in 90-degree heat led us to Museo Roscen—the most eclectic collection of artifacts and antiques I’ve ever seen. Imagine antique cars next to old farm equipment and architectural drawings next to cameras from the 1900s. The two-headed cow was just feet from Victorian gowns. It was quite a sight that we were not expecting. Having our fill of strange things in random places, we decided that instead of heading to the nearby lake without a ride back we would head back to the stream and take a quick dip. So we did. And it was wonderful.

I’m sure there were ‘better’ locations to hit in the Cordoba area, much more hiking routes and more interesting things to see, but this was our little retreat to the Cordoba area. The six days were more about being together than anything else, and my memories will consist more of laughs shared in the rooms rather than anything else.

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