June 2, 2017

Month 5 of Remote Year has brought me to Córdoba, a city smack dap in the middle of Argentina and in the beautiful foothills of the Sierras. Córdoba is a city of more than a million people – the second largest in the country, and just about everyone you meet prides the city and loves its people. There is a 90’s modern cityscape contrasted with some colonial monuments and centuries-old cathedrals. It’s also a very young and loud population due to its university with students from all over the world.

This month was probably the hardest for me yet. Initially, I didn’t really like the city – I thought it was noisy, dirty, cold, and lacked any charm. And even though I was only away for the one week in Chile, I felt a bit disconnected from the group and also very uncentered without my regular routine. The struggle was real that first week. First off, you always have to look down while walking on the sidewalks to avoid stepping in dog feces. Not many stores accepted credit cards and there were long lines for ATMs, with many of them always out of cash. The food was expensive and mediocre at best. It felt like it was more difficult than necessary to do any little task – things that I had always taken for granted. I remember breaking down in tears several times a day. I just wasn’t able to adjust from my recent high in Lima and Santiago as quickly in this new surrounding as I did during past transitions. To make matters worse, the bedroom RY provided me was off the kitchen, in a pantry, with holes in the walls. It was cold, loud, and dirty, and I found myself instantly depressed from the environment. For one of the first times this year I experienced culture shock and didn’t know any longer where I fit in amongst the group. I even contemplated if this was the right path for me because I was feeling so uninspired and burnt out.

After a few conversations with my family, I finally remembered why I was here and forced myself to snap out of it. It’s funny because, in the beginning of this year, I thought I was going to be traveling the world, but now I think the travel part is just a perk of the amazing community I’m surrounded by every day. And like Bogotá, I realized Córdoba was probably a city you needed to search far and wide to uncover treasures. I convinced myself that this was going to be a month to reground and reset.

Right away I signed up for a program called ClickyPass, similar to ClassPass which I had loved doing back home. I took spinning, pilates, and yoga classes. It was also a way to meet locals and practice my Spanish literacy. I went to a total of twelve classes and definitely thought it was a good deal for the month. Aside from the negatives, one thing I loved about Córdoba were all the adorable fruit/vegetable markets and health food stores on almost every block in my Barrio Nueva neighborhood. I found everything I needed in bulk bins and got back into the groove of cooking, baking, and meal prepping.

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Córdoba boasts a number of outstanding museums that are a must-see. Whenever I am feeling down or searching for inspiration, I go to a museum. I purchased the 20 peso package and I spent a solo afternoon going to see all 3 museums in Plaza España: Museo Palacio Ferreyra, Museo Emilio Caraffa, and Museo Palacio Dionisi. My favorite was the architecture and photographs in Dionisi. There is something so raw and real about a moment frozen in time printed and curated for others to experience beyond the screen.

Córdoba’s central Sierras, a mountain range formed 400 million years before the Andes and flanked with moorland and pampas, are wonderful for horse riding. Part of my RY experience track this month led me to have an authentic gaucho day which consisted of horseback riding through the Sierras and an asado lunch. Ok, so I had never ridden a horse before and I was terrified the entire time, but I have so much respect and love for the gaucho that gracefully cheered me on the entire ride. My horse, Mora, was a bit stubborn, stopped often for snacks, and had eyelashes for days – we were two peas in a pod by the end of the day.

I also had the opportunity to visit the peaceful Carayá Monkey Reserve where species native to the Amazon are rehabilitated after captivity in the preparation of their eventual release. The project is situated near La Cumbre, a small town in the Córdoba Province, and is the only one of its kind in Argentina. It was humbling to see how much passion the founder, Alejandra Juarez, has put into the reserve to conserve the future of the Howler monkeys.

I also attended a “green cocktails” class at a very chic bar, Apartmento. There I discovered that I do indeed like gin, but only if it is distilled with Argentinian Mate. Because I mostly ate at home this month, I didn’t go out to eat much, but my favorite meal was El Papagayo’s tasting menu.

My top three moments this month were being a judge at a grilled cheese cook-off; listening to one of my favorite albums, In Rainbows, in an intimate, experimental pitch black theater; and a girl’s trip to Mendoza. In the end, I had some of the best bonding times with people and was able to like the city which I didn’t think would be possible when I first arrived. I have completely surprised myself so many times this year with my ability to adapt and let go, certainly still a work in progress, but still proud of the progress I have made during this process.

After my month living here, I don’t recommend traveling to Córdoba for the city itself, but for its surrounding environment. A few hours out, you find the rolling hills, the green forests, tall Sierras, and quaint towns that make the province of Córdoba a stunning destination.


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