Friday, October 16, 2009

Cordoba: The Good The Bad and The Ugly

Cordoba: Second Largest City in Argentina
Named after Cordoba, Spain
Home to the oldest University in Argentina
Jesuit Founded City
Dust Bowl

We arrived in Cordoba Saturday morning after an all night bus ride (during which we both slept very well due to the amazing seats and a little help from Dr. Behar) and met up with Willie who brought us to our hostel. Josh and I didn't even think to request a private room so I was happily with all the girls. SLumBeR PaRtY!!!!

Funny poster at our hostel: love the English mistakes

Some of the girls in my room
From the left: Milagros, Sabina and Andrea

We had the morning to wander around the town, and antsy to get going I went off by myself and got to know the big plaza and more touristy area. Kind of like the Plaza de Mayo/Florida section of BA but smaller and with a way cooler church. All the churches in Cordoba are in fact among the coolest churches I've ever seen.
The day was hot, and I mean heavy hot. The weather weighed on you and made me sweaty for the first time in a while. I kinda liked it until I arrived at the field. After a long uphill walk through the main artery of the city we arrived at this:

In the forefront of the photo is the "track" where people run around, and in the back is the "field" only I'm not sure you can call it a field if there are literally ten blades of grass. The tournament was a hat tournament, meaning the teams were "random" and not our usual teams from BA. I love these tournaments because they give you a chance to bond with people from other teams, and its nice to get a break from certain team members' playing stlye. Or coaching style...or whatever you need a break from.
Captaining my team was Steve, an expat with a Science Olympiad t-shirt from the year I was born (1986) and around eight years under his belt in this city. He loves to make up poems in Castellano that I never understand. Maybe this year I will... He also is notorious for coming up with great team names and was on my team at Monte Hermoso last year.

Steve on the left and Andres A.K.A Chapi on the right explaining how do run a zone or the cup defense

Andrea, Alex and a newbie named Eric

Katsu (these were his last games in Argentina as he has moved to Peru since these photos were taken) was also on my team in Monte Hermoso, and Milagros is a Cadillac

Papita (called this because his older brother is already called Papi) whose real name is Oscar and Andrés

Chrisi (a cadillac) and Serhio (in his first weekend of Ultimate)

Vitamen E was decided upon for our team name. E for energia. And so much more...

Vitamina E silly style

So as I said, it was hot and dusty and the combination was not good. We played our first game hard and came this close to winning. We lost by two points and faught hard for every point. At the end both teams were exhausted. However, there was a third team of mostly people from Cordoba to play and the winners got to pick who would play next.

Of course they picked us.

I'm in pretty good shape now. I may not have a model's set of abs, but I've got stamina that I havn't had in years. I can play an entire game now if I have to and I can keep playing hard till the end where as before this was not possible. But after a game in this weather with this dust I couldn't catch my breath and it actually pained my legs to run after my fresh components and I was wasting energy because there was no way I was getting there in time. It felt like a cruel punishment for something that wasn't my fault. To say the least, we lost but sadly we also lost our spirit and didn't even do a cheer when we walked off the field. I think we just all wanted it to be over.
To make matters worse, while our hostel had an abundance of cool art there were only two showers. When it was finally my turn the water didn't work out of the shower head so I had to take a crouching shower. A reall bumber because my legs hurt.
That night Josh and I wolfed down a dozen empanandas and then I ate people's left overs as well to compensate for the unthinkable amount of calories I had burned that day. I called it an early night at 12:30 and hit the sack with serious force. It was the most comfortable bed I've slept in for a long time. I know I was tired and all, but my bed in BA is so bad that even hostel beds and pillows seem luxurious to me...or maybe it really was a great pillow.

Trying to stay awake

Gossiping with Cassie and Katie (two Cadillacs)

The next day the winning team and the Cordobese team had to wake up early to play a game at nine. At this point I was pretty glad I had gotten my game over with yesterday and had a relaxing morning with the ladies of my team and Sabina who wasn't playing because of an injured knee. When we arrived we continued to lie aroud on the warmed concrete bleachers and then lost another game to Oh Yea (the winning team). Then ate sandwiches for lunch (Even though hamburgers had been promised and the smell had been taunting us for an hour) and some of us, like Hope pictured bellow, took naps on the small squares let in by the tall cyrprus like trees lining the back of the bleachers.

Catching some rays

An interesting way to shake hands and say good luck before a game

Guarding Cassie

She's totally kicking my butt!

After we finally won a game!!! Kyla and I headed for the showers at the field in order to avoid the kilombo (disaster) of the night before and then to the same Chori stand that she went to last year. This Chori stand is special because they put the toppings on for you. And look at how many there are!!! This was also my most expensive chori at $10 (pesos) so we split one.

I finally captured the perfect cross section of a Chori

People quietly went to their own rooms, showerd and visited the Disco for beer, fernet and coke. I had a girl talk circle in my room with rapid fire Spanish gossip coming from all directions. It was awesome.
Then the party slowly started in the kitchen and Josh started the parilla (in a room full of Argentines I'm not sure how he eneded up with this job, but he did the damn thing right). Vicky, a member of the cordobese team, had brought her guitar to the party (lighting up my eyes) and began to play a little folk music as the coals heated up. Right away I could tell her voice was special, but as she sang more and more Argentine folk songs I came to the realization that I was sitting in font of someone truly special and that one of those crazy Argentine nights was about to begin. The kind of night where the fernet flows into pitchers like water and I can't ever imagine leaving this country because experiences like this are so amazing and never happened to me before I came here.
There were 92 churizos and much fewer frisbee players and everyone at their fill and then some. The singing started up again and we sat transfixed for a long time.

Pitcher of Fernet, Vicki, German guy, Kyla and sweet backdrop

Phil proves himself to be a genius (guy on the right) when he realized the zone defense otherwise known as the cup could be applied at parties. Pictured here are Josh, Chapi, and Phil doing the cup to Achmed. I swear this is very funny if you play Ulitimate.

General merry making

A second fantastic folk singer joins us and their voices wail into the night as I sit mezemorized.

The cordobese are no different than the porteños in that they never want the party to end. When Vicky asked who wanted to go to a Peña, or a restaurant where people take out guitarts and sing folk songs into the wee hours of the night. Chapi was already eager to go having been very taken by Vicki's talent from the start and Josh decided he didn't want to miss out either. The crazy Brazillian guy in charge of all the guys selling hammocks who were sleeping next door to me claimed he would take us all out and we hopped into some cabs and headed for the peña.

Us at the Peña

The room was rusty red and there was a small light fixture hanging from the ceiling. The circle of tables all faced the end of the room where the guitar was coming from and we took a table in the back. Vicki sat down with us for a minute before she hopped up and joined the singers with her guitar. Her deep resonating voice and the emotional wail that came from her heart as she sung captivated everyone as it had us. Soon it was all focused around her and the dancing started.

Traditional folk dancing

Vicki rocks it out

I'm not sure what time it was when the peña kicked us out, but kick us out they did, so we headed to a plaza with Vicki, her guitar and a group from the peña who like us were not ready to throw in the towel.

This is what I look like at about four in the morning after I play frisbee all day...

We stopped in front of this church in the plaza Josh described as having lots of bottle caps everywhere, and the guitars started again. People were dancing and I wanted to dance too!! So Vicki showed me how, and soon Josh and Chapi joined in as well. We danced until someone said it was five am and we decided that yes, it was time to head back and Vicki gave us a small tour of the down town as we headed back to Turning Point Hostel.
Little did we know that we would have to vaccate our beds at ten am so that was shocking!!! And Josh covered some of our last day in Cordoba. One of the things that stuck out most that he didn't mention was the black ferris wheel in one of his pictures. The story and the ferris wheel creeped me out so much I have to share. The ferris wheel used to be a normal one until it broke and somebody died. So they fixed it so it wouldn't move and painted it black as a memorial. Still gives me the creeps to remember it.

We also took a nap in this park

Took a picture at this bridge

Took a cool photo at this church

And swang on these swings

One last note about the churches. They were the coolest. One was built by a man that got his start building ships so the ceiling was shaped like an upsidedown boat meaning it was concave and awesome. The church in my sunglasses was the coolest mix of romananesque, gothic and Islamic influences and incredible inside. We regretfully didn't get to explore like I wanted too because a mass was going on, but there were gargoyles and interesting staircases and crazy ceilings. Oh my.
So there you have it : possible too many details about our Cordoba adventure. Hope you enjoyed.
Also, a disclamer: my blogger spell check has randomly changed to Spanish, so forgive spelling errors!

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