Cordoba: A Slower-Paced Argentinian Life
I am super behind on my Remote Year blog posts...
And I'm sorry for that! But I promise to catch up!
It took all of 2 days in Cordoba for me to realize that I was going to like it! Not necessarily because there was so much to do, see, or anything tangible. There was something about the vibe of the city, the friendliness of the people, and the slower pace of life that just meshed well with my lifestyle. Not to mention the fact that it was a college town, which I inherently dig. I mean, look at the last two cities I lived in? Hehe. As I wrapped up my last time in Cordoba, I realized that this place is incredibly special and the day's that I've spent here, living as locals do, has instilled in my mind an even better understanding of the city.
It's true that a lot of my fellow remotes didn't enjoy Cordoba as much as they did Buenos Aires. It's understandable. There's much less to do in the city in Cordoba. The restaurant and bar scene isn't as noteworthy and you could argue that it was a waste of money to eat out the majority of the time. It also just doesn't cater to tourists quite like Buenos Aires does, with inconvenient operating hours and later opening times at restaurants and generally fewer people that speak English. But, for me, I actually think that this is a place where I could live. And I'll try my best to paint a picture of some of the experiences I've had here that may help explain why that is.
A day in the life of a Gaucho. Up until this point in Remote Year, for me, it felt like an extended vacation. But it really didn't feel like a lifestyle. Not yet at least. That is, until today. Because this gaucho event left me absolutely speechless. It was the first "fucking pinch me, this is my life now" moment that I had on this trip. And it was unreal and one of the absolute highlights of my time on Remote Year so far.
We started off the day very late. It was about 4pm by the time we even left Cordoba. We drove about 90 mins to San Clemente, an isolated town deep in the sierras of Argentina. Sierras just means foothills here, so for all my Americans, no they're not talking about the Sierra Nevadas. When we arrived, we took a little bathroom break and then immediately hopped on horseback and started what would end up being a good 3 or so hours on horseback. It was wonderful and beautiful! They took us deep into the hills as the sun was setting and we we got to a great viewpoint, we stopped for some light drinks and snacks. And then, it was back down the hill in the dark!
Admittedly, this first kind of freaked me out. The control freak in me didn't like that I couldn't see where I was going! And I frankly hadn't been on a trail ride in a long time, so I was antsy about the ability of my horse to find it's footing in the very rocky hillside. Fortunately, though, my horse was a sure-footed little badass that had no trouble navigating the terrain in the dark. I actually think horses can see better in the dark and they have fantastic sense. So, once we made it down some of the more precarious areas, it was all good!
Then, we hit my favorite part of the day! Yes, probably 6 hours in and it was my favorite part of the day. As we descended the hill, it got dark and darker. And suddenly, stars began appearing in the sky a few at a time until we were absolutely surrounded by this sea of twinkling lights. I caught myself singing, staring up at more stars than I feel like I’ve ever seen in my life. It was one of the first true moments on this trip where it really dawned on me that this is my life now. For the next year, these are the kinds of experiences and moments I get to have. And it was mind blowing. When we got to the end of the trail we sat down for another amazing asado, barbecue, good conversation, and even started a backrub train with our gaucho guides. As you can tell by that picture, I was very excited about my back massage after a long day of riding!
Local futbol. If you aren't aware from perusing my website, my about me, and some of my posts about my past injuries, then you should know right now that I'm obsessed with soccer. After playing for 20+ years and finally having to stop due to the persistent injuries that have plagued by since I was 14, it is by far my favorite sport! And something that I was very excited about on this journey was to come to Latin American and European countries where soccer is more than a sport, it's a religion. That's something that I can relate to! So when I had the opportunity to watch a local futbol match, I jumped all over the opportunity! And it was everything I hoped it would be! Complete with jumping, cursing, chanting, etc. Soccer for the win! Always and forever!
Los Gigantes and all the hiking. One thing that I didn't fully comprehend about Cordoba and it's culture is that the city itself is not about what you can do in the city during the week. That's not the defining aspect of its culture. It's about what you can do outside of the city. This city is about leaving the city on the weekends and exploring the beautiful nature that surrounds it. And that is something that I can get behind. I've always had the hiking bug, but I never realized how much until I did my USA road trip this summer! To say that my favorite part of that road trip was hiking and exploring the national parks would be the understatement of the year! Plus, with my imminent trek to Machu Picchu looming in the distance, I knew I wasn't quite in hiking shape! So, when the opportunity to go on a relatively straightforward day hike to Los Gigantes (literally meaning The Giants in Spanish), you know I was all over that!
The hike was seemingly a pretty easy hike. We walked for probably a couple hours, taking plenty of pictures and breaks. But, when we got to the top is when the real adventure started. We basically bouldered the last leg of the hike up to the top through some quite exposed sections that definitely got my adrenaline pumping and the view were incredible! But then the fun started. A little drizzle was heading our way as we were descending from the peak. The drizzle? Well, it turned into hail. It thundered and down-poured and the streams that we'd easily been able to step over or walk through on the way up turned into, well, much bigger streams. And there were definitely moments when we were unsure of how we were going to get down. But the views were incredible, and I got to add the first of what will be many incredible hikes to this year’s adventures!
La Falda and the Writer's Retreat. Toni Morrison once said, “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” I agree with that statement wholeheartedly. But, when the opportunity for what would be the first of many RY Aurora writer’s retreats came up, I almost ignored it. “I’m not a writer.” And yet, I’m a firm believer that I everyone has a story to tell. So why not mine?
So for a weekend in La Falda at the quirkiest house I've ever stayed in, I sat down and wrote for probably a good 6 or so solid hours at our first writer’s retreat. And it was a bit like Ernest Hemingway said. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” It involves relieving my stories and those of others. Some of which are quite deep, intense, hard to re-live. But some of the moments I had that weekend, some of the emotions that I felt...I don’t know. It was incredibly cathartic. And I think these books I want to write, these stories I want to tell will be even more so. And damn am I excited, and nervous as hell, to share them!
So, of course, I had to include this weekend as part of my Cordoba highlights. It was definitely a different type of experience compared to the other more adventurous and active moments of my stay in Cordoba! But it was definitely no less important and impactful. And if it contributes to the legacy that I hope to leave behind on this earth, than damn right, this was an important initiating moment on my journey as a coach and embracing this new identity I'm cultivating as a storyteller and author.
Asado in the Sierras with the sweetest local family you'll ever meet. I don't think anything can quite capture the vibe of Cordoba, hell maybe even the vibe of Argentina, quite like this event can. An event that can be summed up quite simple in the picture to the left.
On my last weekend in Cordoba, we headed back out to San Clemente, literally driving right by the restaurant and the house that we went to for our Gaucho event. But this time, it was a completely different experience. We would be spending the day with a local family enjoying one last asado (barbecue) in the sierra foothills outside of Cordoba. This event in and of itself captured the essence of what Cordoba is. The family described this place as a "refuge" and I couldn't think of a more perfect description myself. We drove until we finally arrived at this small house, a shed more like it, in the middle of an open field surrounded by tons of free-roaming horses. Horses that the family raised as race horses to sell. This was where our day would take place.
It wasn't complicated. It was quite simple. Good food. Good wine. Good company. No cell service. Great views. Just enjoying the scenery, the nature and the people around you. The family cooked for us, sang for us, sold us some of their handmade crafts and local Argentinian staples like colorful blankets and the equivalent of Argentinian Toms. It was the perfect day, complete with a nice, long walk by the river!
To say that I left this event having even more appreciation for the culture of Cordoba would the understatement of the year.
It may not be a tourist destination. It may not be a highlight among the Remotes that visit it, and it definitely wasn't among my community, but I think there's definitely something to be appreciated there. Something that Cordoba can teach us about appreciating the simple things in life. If anything, it seems like that is what this town is about.