I’m not exactly what you call a morning person. I like to lay in bed as a wake up, stare at the wall, listen to the birds singing their happy songs, and reflect on the sweet sweet dreams I had of all the food in the world at the table before me begging to be eaten.
But when I woke up to the big fat bus driver shaking me and telling me to wake up and get off the bus in Spanish even though we were an hour and half ahead of schedule, well, I wasn’t exactly pleased (Side note: How in the name of Sam Hill does the country of inefficiency and doing everything as late as possible, manage to shorten a nine hour bus ride to seven and a half. Seriously. I must have killed one too many ants as a child to receive this kind of charma). But my other flaw of being a morning person is that I am extremely prone to doing whatever people tell me just so they stop bothering me and let me be. So, I didn’t exactly put up a fight, and my and my roommates Jonathan (Quebec), David (Ottawa), and Jonas (Sweden) continued with the rest of our journey.
Cordoba is a ton of about 1.3 million people located right in the middle of Argentina. A nice city that really doesn’t feel like it has as many people as it does.
Having not eaten anything other then several Skittles since lunch the day before, we went and got breakfast at a nice little hotel that appeared as if it would have quite the delicious selection of breakfast items.
Now being the good Montana boy that I am, I love a good breakfast when I am real hungry. We’re talking a juicy chicken fried steak covered in gravy, a side of hash browns, maybe some sausages, and a couple eggs. Throw a cup of apple juice next to it and we’re talking.
So when we ordered the only thing on the menu that was available for breakfast that was labeled “Breakfast”, I was hoping for something filling. Now naturally I wasn’t expecting all of the above listed on the menu because it wasn’t the Western Café (where I’m going as soon as I get home), but at least one thing would have been nice. Eggs, or maybe some form of meat.
Eight croissants between the four of us. Now don’t get me wrong, they were decent croissants, but I kind of feel like I might have been more hungry leaving then when I entered the restaurant.
We then made our way to the hostel and stopped in the Plaza San Martin for some photos, when a random old man missing more teeth then he had came up to us and just started talking about cars and our countries that we were from. I very interesting and nice guy, and after about five minutes, he made off on his way and we did as well to our hostel.
The hostel got us back to regular Argentina. There were about fifteen people waiting around because there rooms had been double booked and waiting for rooms, and not a chair in the lobby to sit in. Fortunately, our rooms were still good to go, so we dropped our bags, and got some advice as to what to do from there from the attendant. She advised us to go to a village called Alta Gracia that was located about an hour away to do some mountain biking. Being the adventurous group of fellows that we are, we hopped on to the next bus to Alta Gracia. But right before we left, there was a guy all by himself who asked the exact same question to the tenant. Claudius from Germany was his name, and he seemed like a rather pleasant fellow.So being the good citizens that we are, we invited him along on our journey.
Once we got to the village, we knew we’d made a good decision to get out of town. Low, rolling mountains all around us, and in a town of what seemed to be no more than 10,000 people, we had truly escaped the city lifestyle.
We got all of our bikes, and then cruised on out of town. I’d forgotten how liberating riding a bike down a hill feels, but the cool air rushing against my body heading down that first hill out of down was as refreshing as finding water in an oasis. After riding through a park and passing by some kids playing soccer, we found the dirt road that was leading us to where the owner of the bike store had told us to go.
After about four miles of pretty hot mostly up hill riding (and Jonas insisting that this must be as painful as women giving birth… not so sure about that one), we find the gate we were supposed to turn off. Of course, there was a “Private Property, No Trespassing Sign”, but we were told that many people make there way back here, we hopped the gate.
Now, the bike store owner had also told us to walk, not ride, our bikes for the first couple hundred yards until we had passed the trees, because the supposedly these trees possessed some thorn that would pop your tires. I kind of thought that he meant like small thorns that you find on a rose bush or something, that wouldn’t cause you any pain unless you grabbed it, but I was wrong.
Claudius jumped the fence and landed with a scream of pain and hopping around on one foot. I don’t know German, but I know German well enough to know pretty much what he said, and that what he said is not exactly kosher for many people. We walked over to investigate, and were shocked to see a freaking huge thorn about 1½ inches in size buried halfway into his Converse shoes. Needless to say, we were a little more cautious as to where we walked after that.
It took about 45 minutes, and after much self questioning of whether or not we had taken the wrong trail, we finally crested over a ridge that gave us a very welcome view on that hot day.
La laguna azul.
This beautiful lagoon was surrounded by cliffs on all sides and ran about 100 yards back by 25 yards wide. We dropped our bikes and went whooping and hollering down the hill towards the oasis that awaited the five handsome men. The water had several small fish swimming in it, and that was enough for us to strip down and do a little good ol’ swimmin’.
After about an hour of cooling off and relaxing, we remounted our lofty steeds, and peddled back down the mountain back to down. The ride was smooth and liberating. The only hiccup was that we had to stop for about twenty minutes to wait for Claudius who was apparently taking a lot of pictures of a horse on the side of the road. Apparently they don’t have horses in Germany, because taking twenty minutes worth of photos of not the prettiest horse in the world is something only people do when they’ve never seen that animal. And twenty minutes is a lot. I saw a giraffe in a zoo the other week, stared at it for about 60 seconds, and then headed back on my merry way.
And that was a giraffe. They’re cool. Horses… not so much.
Anyway, got back into town, and bought some very delicious ice cream and headed back to town. The ride was a pretty challenging and draining one, so that night we just passed out.
The next day I woke up to the pleasant sound of some old man’s raspy voice screaming “HELADO! HELADO! DOS PESOS! HELADO!” Apparently ice cream is a hot commodity in Cordoba at 8:30 in the morning. Who knew?
After changing hostels, the original four figured on taking another day out of town and seeing some more of the mountains. We hopped on a bus to some town, not really knowing what was there, and fortunately found a local nice girl on the bus to give us some advice on what to do. She told of us of a lake about 2 miles up the road where we could see some pretty sights and take in the view. So, we laughed and joked our way up the mountain until we reached a big dam that gave birth to a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. The blue bird sky provided a gorgeous background to the low rolling green mountains. We had brought some food along for sandwich making, so we hiked about halfway around the lake where we found a nice bank in the shadow of a tree and had ourselves a wonderful man picnic or “man-nic”. Extremely manly, of course.
We then made our way back to the dam, did some picture taking, before taking the bus back home.
The following day was the purpose of the whole trip. Every year, Argentina has it’s very own Octoberfest in a town called Villa Belgrano, which lies in the middle of the mountains about an hour and half outside of Cordoba.
Though Argentina has a very strong Italian heritage, Germany played a fairly large role in the development of the country, and this original settlers of this town had brought their festival with them.
Once on the bus, we encountered traffic jams about halfway to our final destination, as it became apparent that there were a lot of people interested in enjoying the festival themselves.
The town was very much German. There was traditional German music playing inside of the park and up and down the streets of village, along with parades of people dressed in lederhosen playing accordions and drums. The atmosphere was very much alive, and very contagious.
Once inside the park, we were able to find many of our friends from the university who had also made the trek to enjoy the culture. With friends from France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, and several other European nations, we were able to hear and sing along with many of their local drinking songs and be merry. We stayed until about midnight when we were good and tired, and headed back for to Cordoba. The next morning we woke up early, and took the bus back to the city that never stops rocking.