Monday, May 18, 2009

Mother Nature Takin' Over

'Cause it's the new Mother Nature takin' over
It's the new splendid lady come to call
It's the new Mother Nature takin' over
She's gettin' us all
She's gettin' us all

Oh yeah, that's right, I'm shamelessly quoting The Guess Who. But you know, it just really fits my mood right now. Why? Because Cordoba is filled with nature. Buenos Aires may be majestic in its man-made concrete wilderness (FLASHBACK: standing on top of the Palacio Barolo and looking out over the MAZE that is Buenos Aires, realizing that everyday millions of people some how make their way through all of that). But Cordoba is majestic in its divinely natural splendor.

Cordoba city sits like the hub of a wheel, the epicenter of a dozen spokes leading to country towns scattered throughout the hills. These country towns are indeed tiny. Their city centers can be tracked in 20 minutes tops. Their paths around the surrounding hills can be easily found, and the must-see tourist sites uniquely boasted by each town can be seen and enjoyed within an afternoon. These little towns make for short-and-sweet day trips, mini-vacations that give you respite from the urban hustle-bustle. They are truly lovely. So far, we have visited three of these hidden gems: Jesus Maria, Alto Gracia, and Villa Carlos Paz. I've already regaled you with the tales of Jesus Maria, so I'll bypass that verbal tour and skip straight ahead to Alto Gracia and Villa Carlos Paz.

First, Alto Gracia. This is where you go for a walk down Revolutionary Road. Che Guevara's childhood home is all the rage in this tiny town, and it is a definite must-see. Converted into a museum, it houses the famed motorcyle, as well as the lesser-known bicycle that Che pedalled through 14 Argentine provinces before he embarked on his pan-South American motorbike tour. The house is decorated with framed photographs of the Guevara family and preserved relics from their past. You leave the museum with a sense that the revolution lives on. I can't quite pinpoint exactly what leaves you with this feeling, but perhaps it's the room devoted to documenting Fidel and Hugo's joint visit to the house/museum in 2006. Their photographs, quotes, and signatures cover the walls in that final room, leaving you with a definite sense of...Wonder? I'm not quite sure what to call it, but it was definitely an interesting peek into a revolutionary and a revolutionary culture!

Outside the museum the town is very sleepy. There are delicious pastries to be eaten in the city center, a beautiful Jesuit mission that gives you a wonderful sense of pervading calm, and a stream and hills waiting for your playing feet. Our day in Alto Gracia was indeed a day well-spent!

Alright, now it's time to move on to Villa Carlos Paz. Though this town has decidedly less to offer than a Che museum, it certainly does have its own brand of charm. It truly is nestled into the sierras, and as you walk along you see those dusty, rustic hills on all sides of you. The lake of Villa Carlos Paz is the central point, and there are paddle boats just waiting for you to jump in and whirl around the lake! A little ways away from the lake is a ski lift that will take you up and into the sierras, giving you an amazing view (I am sure of that, although it was closed when we were there and we couldn't try it!).

But, really nothing in Villa Carlos Paz beats the Reloj Cu Cu, or the Cuckoo Clock. The Reloj Cu Cu was built in 1958 to promote tourism in the town. Located in the city center, it is a wooden structure, literally, an over-sized wooden cuckoo clock. It is very charming in a kitschy way, but unfortunately, we couldn't see the cuckoo bird chirp the time--the cuckoo bird was apparently stolen about a year ago, believe it or not. Oh, Dear Lord, I would LOVE to see the footage of that--a conman on the run with a wooden cuckoo tucked under his arm, slipping through the unsuspecting streets of Villa Carlos Paz. Well! It all just goes to show that there is always an adventure waiting for you in the Cordoba province.


Mama Africa said...

Loverly! The afternoon tours and trips to all the "spokes" sound charming... Enjoy the new pace of life!


J. Smith said...

i love the first picture of you sarah. you two seem (and look) verrrryy happy! me alegro y te mando besos grandes!

suerte, jenny

Agustín said...

Hi Sarah! I've been taking a look at your blog and I really liked it. As an argentinian that I am, I always find it very interesting when people from abroad talk about Argentina giving their opinion and telling the experiences they have here.
Keep writing!

Hira said...

You are so beautiful! Cordoba is bringing another light into your faces! I think BA brought spunk and def put a quickstep in your shoes, but Cordoba might just steal your heart ;)

i miss you tons!
Love, Hira Bee

Anonymous said...

You make me really wish I had taken the time to travel all of Argentina. Then again, I would have missed my favorite milongas in Buenos Aires which is why I never did. I need to get my priorities straight here!