Category Archives: Córdoba, Argentina

Spending two months in the health clinics and hospitals of Argentina’s second largest city, improving my medical Spanish, and living with a host family.

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Picnic in Le Parc – Third Dinner in Mendoza

After our tour of Bodega Alta Vista, Margaret and I decided to spend the remainder of our day relaxing and picnicing in Le Parc, Alta Vista’s small, picturesque lawn with tables, chairs, blankets and pillows. Our meal only cost $190 (ARG). Not too bad for 5 hours in the sun and lots of delicious food, huh? I was overwhelmed by the beauty of our surroundings and could not help but take lots of photos. Here are some of my favorite moments from the day.

IMG_9294One of the guides leading us to Le Parc for our picnic.

IMG_9250Le Parc! There were a bunch of these white metal chairs for guests to sit and enjoy the view, some wine, and a picnic.

IMG_9252Our picnic location. There were several other blankets with pillows along the lawn for guests to relax, drink wine, and picnic.

IMG_9253I wish this were my backyard.IMG_9310The menu. Luckily, we didn’t have to decide what we wanted. The picnic included all of this.IMG_9298Chardonnay and agua con gas.IMG_9299That water though.IMG_9302

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IMG_9300The meal! From top left corner to bottom right corner, you’re looking at:  Ham & cheese quiche, anchovy + onion + pepper tostada, eggplant & olive oil, caprese salad bite + olive, bread with cheese & fig, tomato + parmaham + cheese on white bread, and pork + avocado spread + tomato on ciabatta.

We also had ground beef + egg + cheese + pepper + onion empanadas, but I didn’t get a picture of them.IMG_9304Dessert! From left to right: Flan and wafers + dulce de Leche + merengue. We also had fruit salad. IMG_9305

Post-picnic food coma.

IMG_9316Can’t imagine how much upkeep a vineyard would require.

IMG_9318A view of the torrontés through the trees. IMG_9248Rows of torrontés and petit verdot with mountains in view. We tried the torrontés. Delicious! IMG_9242Mountains and vines.IMG_9255Red globes growing overhead.

Alta Vista was my favorite place that we visited during our three-day trip to Mendoza. I would say this bodega is a “must” for anyone making a trip to Argentina’s wine country. The staff are friendly and informative, the view is beautiful, and the bodega is peaceful and isolated.

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Mendoza Day 3 – Alta Vista

After spending the morning at Bodega López, Margaret and I made our way to Bodega Alta Vista, a smaller bodega owned and operated by a French winemaker and located in Luján de Cuyo. Since we hadn’t previously heard or read about Alta Vista, we weren’t really sure what to expect. Since the meaning of the name is “high view” we guessed and hoped we’d be traveling closer to the Andes that we could see in the distance to the west. Sure enough, during our long taxi ride between Maipú and Luján de Cuyo, we noticed that we were indeed getting closer to the mountains.

IMG_2381Mountain view from the cab. Looks like we were heading in the right direction, eh?

IMG_9250IMG_9317¡Llegamos! The bodega was gated, and there was a man who asked for our reserva when our taxi pulled up. “¿Reserva? No tenemos una reserva. Nuestra guía en la Bodega López nos recomendó una visita a ésta Bodega. No sabíamos que necesitamos una reserva…” We had no idea that a reservation was necessary. Luckily, they were able to get us in. What luck!

We got out of our cab, and walked to the bodega. The only thing lying between us and the bodega was this excellent place pictured above; Le Parc.

First, we decided to take a $75 (ARG) tour of the bodega. Here are some shots I captured throughout the tour.

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Loved how people painted on these barrels. I would like to do this. Anyone know where I can purchase some wine barrels?

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Stainless steel tanks for fermentation.IMG_9268

Some empty barrels, de-stemming machines, and The One and Only MC Smiley.IMG_9291Locked-up wine in the owner’s personal supply. Gettin’ dusty!
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More of the owner’s personal supply.IMG_9277¡La cava!

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I loved Alta Vista’s logo because of 1) its simplicity 2) the fact that it includes my initials.IMG_9282

Another view of the barrels.

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After our wine tour, we headed to the wine bar para una degustación de vinos. Here are the different types we were able to taste.

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A tasting wasn’t included in our tour, but “Alto” is Alta Vista’s best wine. Our guide told us that 2007 was the best year.

Once our tour finished, Margaret and I asked about lunch. Alta Vista does not have a restaurant, but they do have a lunch picnic in Le Parc. Given our love for picnics and the fact that we had 6 hours until our flight back to Córdoba, the picnic was an obvious yes.

 

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How could you turn this down on a bluebird day? Margaret and I ended up spending the entire afternoon in Le Parc, eating good food and chatting about whatever. To see more pictures from our picnic (highly recommended), check out this post.

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Mendoza Day 3 – Bodega López

Our last day in Mendoza without solidified plans. Yikes. Margaret and I woke up at 8 and ate breakfast in our hostel. We hoped to make a trip to Bodega Catena Zapata in Valle de Uco but we were not exactly sure how we were going to make the trip or how much it was going to cost. Although there were tons of bodegas to choose from throughout Mendoza, we had our sights set on Catena Zapata. Why? Everyone recommended it, there was a nice little blurb and picture about it in my guidebook, and last but not least, every Mendoza-related Google search we did seemed to yield some results about Catena Zapata and its wonder.

Our first mission: determine how to arrive in Valle de Uco. We hailed a taxi to get to the bus station and inquired about routes to Valle de Uco. We quickly learned that we would need to wait at the bus station for over two hours before the first bus of the day left. We definitely did not have two hours to spare on our last day in Mendoza. Fallback plan? Another day in Maipú! “Maybe we can hit up the bodegas that were closed yesterday during the strikes,” we thought and hoped.

Tuvimos suerte with the Maipú idea. Bodega López was open, unlike the previous day when it had been closed due to las huelgas, and offered free tours in both English and Spanish. Regardless, Margaret and I decided to take the Spanish tour (shorter wait + I preferred the Spanish tour to expand my Spanish lexicon). Great success; I learned lots of new Spanish wine words plus more about winemaking. Here are some pictures from the tour! I have them organized in sections based upon which part of the [winemaking] process they relate to.

Step 1: The Harvest

Removing the grapes from the vines. I do not have any pictures of this step, since the viñedos de López are not located in the same place as the Bodega itself.

Step 2: Transport

Moving the grapes from the viñedos to the bodegas. I had the chance to witness and document this step in action.

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Grape-carrying Mercedes trucks.

Step 3: Crushing of the Grapes 

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Grapes just waiting to be crushed (I think).

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Trucks emptying the harvest into these large metal “tanks” with some sort of device (see below) to do something very scientific, I’m sure. IMG_9201

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Our tour guide was the best! She offered us these Malbec grapes.

Step 4: Fermentation – Mixture of Juice, Skins, and Seeds + Addition of Yeast

This primary fermentation process usually takes about one to two weeks. Yeasts are microorganisms that, in the wine-making process, turn sugar into ethanol (alcohol) and carbon dioxide. We didn’t actually witness the addition of yeast into any pre-wine juice, but our tour guide told us that the specific yeast that each bodega uses in their wine is like a “secret ingredient.” Kind of interesting, huh? The type of microorganism serves as a secret ingredient. That fascinates me.

The skins are left in the grape juice mixture at this time. In fact, red wine receives its color and tannins from the skins of the grapes. Did you know that white wine is made with red grapes? “What? How?” you ask. When making white wine, the skins are removed from the mixture so that the wine does not absorb the flavors and purple tint.

Step 5: Pressing

While we did not witness the pressing, I did see pressing-related paraphernalia on López’s grounds. Here’s a photo!

IMG_9231A wine press turned planter! I thought this was pretty clever.

Step 6: Secondary Fermentation

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French oak casks! Once the wine is finished aging in these casks, the wood is recycled to make hardwood floors, furniture, etc. I loved that.
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The type of fermentation vessel used affects the outcome of the wine. Many other bodegas we visited used large steel tanks rather than wooden casks.

Step 7: Bottling Preparation + Bottling

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This guy has a wonderful job. Hanging out in the lab, testing wine pH, and carrying out a lot of other very important (and likely interesting) wine-related tasks. IMG_9230 IMG_9222

Boxes coming down the conveyor belt.IMG_9221Notice that the boxes are upside down. López bottles and ships their wine upside down so that the cork has adequate time to form to the neck of the bottle.

After seeing the bottling process, the tour group headed to la cava para una degustación de vinos. After la degustación, Margaret and I thanked our guide. I also mentioned wanting to visit Catena Zapata, but she told us it was re lejos from Maipú and that she had a better place to recommend to us: Alta Vista in Luján de Cuyo…

Suggestions from a local? There’s nothing I like more. Curious about this Alta Vista place, Margaret and I waited for a taxi and made our way on the day’s second adventure. For the record, Bodega Alta Vista won a spot on my Top 5 Most Beautiful Places I’ve Ever Been list. That said, make sure to check out this post.

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Restaurante 1884 Francis Mallman – Second Dinner in Mendoza

After browsing restaurantes mendocinos in our hostel on day one, Margaret and I had too many culinary adventures to choose from. Everything looked so delicious, yet we only had 3 days to spend in Mendoza. When it came time to make decisions, we relied on advice from a combination of sources including NYTimes articles, restaurant reviews, and excerpts from my Argentina travel guide. Good choice? Most definitely. On night number two, we had reservations at what may be Mendoza’s best restaurant and what this article calls Latin America’s 37th best.

What is the restaurant? 1884 Restaurante – Francis Mallman in Bodega Escorihuela. What do they have to offer? Only a 36-page wine list, really delicious food, and free bread that never stops.

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The entrance.

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Seating areas. Where are the people? It was a little chilly that night, so most people (including us) were inside or in the other outdoor area, close to the fire.

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Most extravagant bread table I’ve ever seen. This is where the waiters refilled their baskets of bread to bring from table to table.  IMG_2363

Humita. My favorite comida argentina made of corn, red pepper, squash, milk, onion, and cheese. And probably some other stuff.IMG_2365

A delicious dessert.
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Pears, pistachios, cashews, helado de vainilla. Many of my favorite things in one dish.

Going to Mendoza? I would highly recommend eating at 1884 Restaurante – Francis Mallman. If you need more convincing, you should check out the photo gallery and general information on their website.

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Mendoza – Day 2

Eager for some bodega-hopping in Mendoza, Margaret and I woke up 7:45, ate some breakfast at our hostel, and asked hostel staff for advice about traveling between bodegas.

First of all, you may be wondering, “What is a bodega?” This is an important clarification, as a number of mendocinos corrected me when saying, “Vamos a las viñas.” We weren’t going to the vineyards –as I had mistakenly stated– rather, we were going to the bodegas. According to Word Reference, a bodega is a “lugar donde se guarda, cría o fabrica el vino.” A place where wine is kept, matured or made. The vineyards, or viñas, are the yards of vines, if you will. The place with the growing grapes, if we want to be informal.

Now that we understand the distinction between bodegas and vineyards, back to our morning. Margaret and I had a list of vineyards we were hoping to “hit up” throughout the day, but we wanted to double-check with hostel staff to ensure that our goals were feasible. We hoped to adventure through Maipú in the morning via bike then make our way to Valle de Uco to visit the famous Catena Zapata. Unfortunately, our hopes were quickly shattered because 1) There was no easy way to travel from Maipú to Valle de Uco, 2) Catena Zapata requires reservations, and 3) The big-name bodegas were closed for the day due to workers’ huelgas (strikes).

Regardless of the strikes, Margaret and I made our way to Maipú by bus. We found Mr. Hugo’s bikes (recommended to us by a friend), and rented bikes for $50 (ARG) each. Mr. Hugo greeted us personally, his wife gave us advice and a map of local bodegas, and his what-I’m-assuming-to-be-son gave us bikes. Essentially SIX DOLLARS for this quality service. Needless to say, everyone should experience Mr. Hugo’s bikes. Here are some pictures of Mr. Hugo’s setup.

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Our first stop was Domiciano, a relatively-new bodega boutique that opened in 2005. Our guide, Yael, greeted us with Chardonnay, which was surprisingly refreshing and delicious. We also met a guy from Australia who had just spent a month in Ann Arbor doing research because the Hatcher Graduate Library had some publications from a famous author he’s writing a book about. Small world. Here are a couple pictures of the bodega.

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Take a second to admire how many people visited this bodega by bike. Mr. Hugo is a popular dude.
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One of my favorite details about Bodega Domiciano is their logo; it features a man, 5 stars, and their name. Why a man and stars? Because Domiciano is known for harvesting their grapes at night. How cool is that?

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Domiciano Part One: Grape-tasting in a few rows of vines

I hesitate to use the term vineyard, since the grapes at the bodega existed solely for the purpose of showing tourists. Domiciano’s actual vineyards –with the grapes that produce their wine– are located off-site, in Barrancas. Since mid-March falls right during harvesting season, Margaret and I had the opportunity to try Malbec and Shiraz grapes from the vines. We both liked Malbec better and assumed it was probably because it was the one we tried first, and there’s just something special about that.

IMG_9086 IMG_9085 IMG_9084 IMG_9082 Domiciano Part Two: Fermentation Station + La Cava

After falling in love with the vines, we headed indoors to see where the wine spends its life maturing.

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Domiciano Part Three: Bottling

Once sufficiently fermented, the wine moves from epoxy cement pools (or French Oak casks) to glass bottles. We had the opportunity to watch the bottling process. Pretty cool!

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The tour at Bodega Domiciano only cost $40 (ARG) per person, and I would highly recommend it to anyone else who decides to make a visit to Maipú!

After our tour at Bodega Domiciano, Margaret and I headed to another bodega; Tempus Alba. We weren’t aware during our time there, but the bodega had been closed earlier in the day due to the workers’ strikes. Turns out we were lucky we had the chance to visit! At Tempus Alba, we enjoyed free 5-step self-guided tour ending at a terrace overlooking the vineyard. Here are some pictures from our visit.

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Hello, Tempus Alba. When entering these doors, visitors see 6 frames displaying the bodega’s dogma in Spanish. I thoroughly enjoyed it, so I made sure to take note of it to share with others:

Somos el génesis de un modo nuevo de hacer vino, queremos que nuestra pasión por lo que hacemos se beba y se traduzca en un idioma universal.
Vivimos a la par de nuestros viñedos, creciendo, sufriendo, gozando con cada nueva cosecha.
Criamos nuestros vinos como quien prepara un hijo para la vida: honesto, noble, complejo, único.
Por ello, damos fé de nuestro trabajo y compromiso a que nuestra bodega cumpla este dogma.

Todo proyecto deberá ser sustentable, dando un uso inteligente a los recursos teniendo en cuenta siempre a la tierra, la vid, quienes la trabajan y quienes disfrutan del esfuerzo de producir vino.
Toda bodega tendrá un Malbec como icono de nuestra tierra para el mundo.
Todo emprendimiento no superará los 300,000 litros de producción a fin de garantizar el mayor de los esmeros en la elaboración del vino.

Todo vino que surja de esta bodega será elaborado con uva proveniente de viñedos propios, pues esta es la única forma de garantizar a través de los años la cualidades propias del terruño.
Toda bodega aspirará a tener la mejor tecnología para la producción de sus vinos dando muestra permanente de innovación y espíritu de superación.
Todo aquel que elabore vino bajo este dogma honrará a su familia, su sangre, pues hacemos vinos para nosotros, para nuestros hijos y para los hijos de nuestros hijos. Todo cuidado de la vid será intensivo, toda tarea será dedicada.

Toda botella tendrá un valor, más allá del económico, por lo cual jamás se regalará un vino nacido del dogma.
Toda producción aunque tenga por destino el mercado internacional deberá tener presencia en el mercado nacional, a fin de devolver a hacer parte al consumidor argentino del fruto de la pasión y el trabajo de la bodega.

Toda bodega será siempre atendida por sus dueños.
Toda innovación en los canales de distribución será valorada.
Todo intercambio franco de ideas entre cotegas y competidores será promovido, pues es base de este dogma cooperar para competir unir para crecer.

Legamos este Dogma como base para el desafío de hacer vino de un modo diferente: cerca de la tierra y a un paso del cielo.
En la certeza de estar creando individuos que hablen de pasión, esfuerzo y coraje a todo el mundo en el idioma universal del vino.
Somos lo que hacemos.

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Enjoyed this perfect weather. IMG_9154

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Loved the style of this wine bar. IMG_9136 IMG_9138

Checker board with wine corks. I want to make this.IMG_9134

Olive trees at Tempus Alba. I had never seen an olive tree before, so this was quite an exciting moment for me. IMG_9126

Malbec vines!

After Tempus Alba, Margaret and I made our way to our third and last bodega of the day, Mevi. We sat on the patio y tomamos el sol por un rato, but then decided to head back to town, since we had dinner reservations. Here are a couple of pictures from Mevi!

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Azafrán – First Dinner in Mendoza

Since we were spending minimal amounts of plata on our lodging, we were able to eat like reinas. During our first night in Mendoza, Margaret and I decided to go to Azafrán, a restaurant downtown Mendoza, recommended in my Fodor’s Argentina guidebook. Here is what the guidebook had to say:

It’s as much a gourmet grocery and wineshop as it is an incredible restaurant with tons of character…shelves are stocked with local olive oils, dried herbs and spices, smoked meats, and olives and homemade jams. Eighty wineries are represented by more than 400 labels in the wine bar, where an old wine press has been converted into a tasting table. There is no wine list, but you can explore the wine room and look at the shelves of wine while working with a sommelier to find the perfect pairing for your food order. The food is super fresh, traditionally Argentine yet with creative flair, and gorgeously presented…This is a versatile place that works well whether you need to have a business meeting, dine with your family, or have a romantic dinner for two.

The book really sells this place, right? Right. And with good reason. It was wonderful.

Here are some pictures of our food and the restaurant itself!

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The wine room! We had to (so rough, right?) hang out here while waiting for a table. IMG_9072

So many to choose from! And I knew so little about wine. Good thing we had the sommelier to direct us to a Torrontés, a white wine that paired well with the seafood we ate.IMG_9074Another part of the wine room.

IMG_2344Ceviche con brotes de alfalfa y maracuyá. Tuna ceviche with alfalfa sprouts and passion fruit.

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My dinner. Especial del día: trucha con espárragos y puré de papa. Trout with asparagus and mashed potatoes.

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Margaret’s dinner: Shrimp risotto.

The best part: Degustación de postres including flan, frutas secas & quesos, torta de chocolate con helado de vainilla, y whatever is in that shot glass with dulce de leche on top.

IMG_9076This dinner was a wonderful way to celebrate our first day in wine country. If you plan on making a trip to Mendoza City, I would highly recommend Azafrán. Here’s a link to the menu, just for fun.

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Mendoza – Day 1

When planning a trip to Mendoza, the first question to ask yourself is, “Plane or omnibus?” One significant detail led Margaret and I to choose flying from Córdoba to Mendoza; the one-hour flight is about 9 hours shorter than the bus ride and only costs about $100 more.

Eager for our first day in Argentina’s wine country, Margaret and I woke up at 6:00 am to make our way to the Córdoba International Airport and catch our plane to Mendoza. Spending $200 for a plane ticket –rather than around $90 on a bus–was worth saving 18 hours of travel time.

In Mendoza, we stayed at Hostel Suites, which coincidentally and conveniently was located right across from the Mercado Central. The market was already on my “Mendoza to-do list,” since it was one of many recommendation in my Argentina guidebook.

Our first Mendoza destination: the plazas.

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Each of the green areas in this map are plazas. The largest plaza –Plaza Independencia– is located in the center. Plaza Chile, Plaza Italia, Plaza España, and Plaza San Martín surround Plaza Independencia.

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The fountain in Plaza Chile.

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I liked the lights in Plaza Independencia.

Second stop: Lunch.

After plaza-seeing, we were ready for some grub. However, since Argentina’s eating schedule is a bit different than what we’re used to at home, most of the restaurants were closed until 6:00 at night, making it a bit hard to find somewhere to eat. Luckily, we stumbled upon an adorable café –Petrona– while walking around. Here are some of the pictures from our lunch.

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Tetera con detalles crochet. I want to learn how to make this, because it’s so adorable! IMG_2325

Tostadas con queso, berenjena y tomate. Delicious and would be so easy to make!

Third destination: The park.

After refueling our bodies during lunch, we made our way to Mendoza’s Parque General San Martín to see the famous Cerro de la Gloria, a monument in honor of the Cruce de los Andes by el Ejército de los Andes. It was quite a long journey to the monument (a couple of hours of walking) but most definitely worth it!

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Found possible future place of residence on the walk to the park. High five!IMG_8964

Thought the shape of this house we saw on the way to the park was cool and unique. IMG_8967

Love this VW van. Also love the Argentina license plate on the front.IMG_8969

Another view of possible future home.

IMG_8977 IMG_8976The entrance to Parque General San Martín.

IMG_8979After entering the gates to Parque General San Martín.

IMG_8987 IMG_8988Some other findings throughout our walk in el Parque.

IMG_9007Saw this parrot perched on the gate to el Zoológico de Mendoza located at the bottom of the paths up to Cerro de la Gloria.

IMG_9023View from the trek up los senderos. Note to self (and others): do not wear sandals. I slipped a couple of times.

IMG_9021 IMG_9029Some of the photos from our trek up the foothills of the Andes. The view became more beautiful with each step.

IMG_9040Cerro de la Gloria – finally made it to the monument!

IMG_9044Tired horses on one side of the statue representing how exhausted the men and horses of el Ejército de los Andes were after embarking on the Cruce de los Andes to free Chile and Peru.

IMG_9032More recognition of men involved in the war efforts.

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IMG_9058 IMG_9055In addition to Cerro de la Gloria, we saw this crazy monkey. Thinking (and hoping) he escaped from the nearby zoo. He’s too domesticated to be silvestre, I think.

Fourth stop: Mercado Central.

After spending hours in the wild, Margaret and I made our way back to town. Since the market had been closed from 1-5pm during “siesta time,” we decided to make a trip and check it out before dinner. The following are a few pictures from the market.

IMG_9067Meat and cheese vendor.

IMG_9068“Little claws.” Or chicken feet. IMG_9069Tuna and sea bass.

IMG_9070Various forms of calamari. IMG_9066IMG_9071

Purchased some grapes as a pre-dinner snack. I mean, that’s why we were in Mendoza, right? For the grapes.

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El día de la Memoria por la Verdad y la Justicia

As of 2006, March 24th became a national public holiday in Argentina, a day to remember los desaparecidos and other victims of the Dirty War. While todo el mundo recognizes victims of the war on this special holiday, many others reflect upon this historical event throughout the entirety of the year by visiting Córdoba’s Archivo Provincial de la Memoria, a former hidden detention center, which now serves as a museum. The museum provides visitors with the opportunity to reflect upon the everlasting effects of the Dirty War, as its walls display formerly-detained prisoner’s stories, and a mere walk through it’s labyrinth of hallways and glimpse of closet-sized cells –used to house four prisoners at a time– illustrate the truth of Argentina’s dark past.

I visited El Archivo Provincial de la Memoria during one of my March Spanish classes. Here are some of the photos that I took.

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The entrance to the museum.

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The names of algunos desaparecidos are written together to form the images of fingerprints on the walls outside of the museum. I love this.

We visited several salas, or display rooms, throughout the museum. In regards of the salas, there was a sign saying this:

“Estas salas relatan momentos, recuerdos, vidas, experiencias, amores… Cada álbum nos cuenta la historia de un desaparecido, de un ser humano con rostro, con nombre y apellido, historias, elecciones. Sus cortas pero intensas vidas, condensan sus deseos y luchas, sus pasiones y utopias. Certificados, fotos, documentos de identidad, cartas, poesías, ropas, pequeñas notas, libretas de ahorro o escolares, transmiten imágenes de mundos cotidianos, vividos, sufridos, disfrutados. Cada objeto refleja una energía social, recuperada en estas salas a través de las personas que produjeron cada álbum.”

In English, this would translate as, “These rooms recount moments, memories, lives, experiences, loves… Every collection tells us the story of a desaparecido (literally “a disappeared,” meaning a person who disappeared during the war), of a human being with a face, a first and last name, a story, decisions. Their short but intense lives are filled with their desires and struggles, their passions and utopias. Certifications, photos, identification documents, letters, poems, clothing, small notes, checkbooks and school notebooks all transmit images of everyday worlds, which were lived, suffered, and enjoyed. Every object reflects a social energy, recovered in these display rooms through the people that produced every collection.”

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The labyrinth layout of the prisoner ensured that captives could not orient themselves when inside. This wall has rugged edged because it wasn’t always an entryway – part of the original wall was removed to provide museum visitors with an easier way to navigate.

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Blue skies, a cool museum, and pictures. Happy day for me.

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Images from la “Sala de vidas para ser contadas: muestra permanente donde se recuperan las historias de vida de personas desaparecidas y asesinadas por el estado entre 1974 y 1983.”

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While I did not see the big march this past Monday (El Día de la Memoria), I witnessed a couple of small demonstrations. I never really understood what the crowd was chanting, but I enjoyed being amidst all of the energy on a holiday that is re importante para mis amigos argentinos. Here’s a picture I took!

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Las sierras

One of my favorite “mini trips” during my time in Córdoba was a night with friends in Carlos Paz, a town located 1 hour west of Córdoba and on the western slope of las sierras chicas. As a Michigander, I love my time in aire libre. In other words, spending a day away from the noise of the city –mostly the people and cars who fill the streets in Córdoba– was a perfect escape. Rachel’s (another CFHI student) host family has a house along a river in the sierras and invited us to spend a night there para conocer more than just Nueva Córdoba. I tried my first asado, and it will probably be my last asado. I don’t like meat all that much, but I wanted to try an asado during my two months in Argentina, since it’s the country’s speciality.

Here are some pictures from my day in Carlos Paz.

IMG_8537 IMG_8535Amazing view from the backyard. We were lucky to have such a beautiful day because rain had been typical during the past few weeks.

IMG_8536The house and my friends. Bien argentino, ¿no?

IMG_8510Necessary picture, because this was EXACTLY how I had imagined Argentina before arriving. Rivers, wine, and horses.

IMG_8522 IMG_8523El asador haciendo asado!

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Villa General Belgrano & La Cumbrecita

Last weekend, Jake and I decided to take a trip to La Cumbrecita, a small pedestrian town in a valley of the sierras. We met at the bus terminal at 9:30AM to buy our bus tickets but encountered a small problem; there were not any buses that traveled directly to La Cumbrecita. That said, our what-we-thought-would-be-2-hour bus trip turned into a 5 hour ordeal. We had to take our first bus from Córdoba to Villa General Belgrano and the second from there to La Cumbrecita. When arriving in Villa General Belgrano, we learned that the next bus to La Cumbrecita would leave in 2 hours. 2 hours?! Ay.

Luckily, it was a beautiful day, and the 2-hour “layover” (if you can call it that) turned out to be a blessing. Villa General Belgrano happens to be a mini German town on the east side of the province of Córdoba. Some residents and friends had previously recommended that I travel to Villa General Belgrano, so it was nice to be able to spend 2 hours getting to know this little cordobese gem.

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Villa General Belgrano’s idea of a city sign? I dig.

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I appreciated the craftsmanship required for making these street signs.IMG_8567

Where’s Waldo? I mean Jake. Can you find him? I hope so. He’s One of 4 featured in this photo. I liked the flags that decorated this alleyway. And Jake, of course!
IMG_8574Restaurant sign that I liked.

After 2 hours of boludeando in Villa General Belgrano, Jake and I made our way back to the bus terminal and boarded a bus to La Cumbrecita. When we arrived, we reserved our bus for the ride back so that we would make it back to Villa General Belgrano in time to catch the last bus back to Córdoba. Good idea on our part because later there were a lot of sad travelers who didn’t know they had to make their reservations and couldn’t board the bus .

As I mentioned above, La Cumbrecita is a pedestrian town. Cars are prohibited and visitors enter the city by crossing a bridge by foot.

IMG_8583This is the view from the bridge that enters the town.

peatonalThis sign, meaning pedestrian (the adjective form), was placed at the end of the bridge. The noun form of pedestrian is “peatón.”

IMG_8604La Olla – A popular Argentine hangout on a sunny day.
IMG_8602The vista down the river taken at La Olla. IMG_8619A waterfall called “La Boca del Diablo.” Another popular hangout on a sunny day.
IMG_8645The wet climate provides good growing grounds for these hongos. Apparently they have hallucinogenic properties if prepared right. A local showed us a wikipedia page about them on her phone, but I didn’t take note of the name.IMG_8652

This is the view of the La Cumbrecita from the highest point in the town.IMG_8648 IMG_8647 IMG_8649Loved escaping the city for a day to be surrounded by the sun and by all of these colors.IMG_8670Magical moss-covered escaleras.

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Sunny Day Stroll

A couple weekends back, Rachel and I walked through Nueva Córdoba to take some pictures, enjoy the fresh air, and get some sun. We started out near Paseo del Buen Pastor, made our way to Plaza San Martín, and ended up near el Colegio de Monserrat. We were lucky to have such a beautiful day. Here are some pictures to prove it!

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Statue in el Paseo del Buen Pastor that needed to calm down.handstand–buenpastor

Handstands at Paseo del Buen Pastor!

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This is the Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón – Padres Capuchinos (Iglesia de los Capuchinos). My personal favorite of all the churches I have seen in Córdoba.

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This is another view of the front of the church.

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After spending time near el Paseo de Buen Pastor and Iglesia de los Capuchinos (the two sites are side-by-side), we made our way to Iglesia Catedral de Córdoba (above). gate–iglesiaSM

The gates to the church.foto–por–keyhole

Tried to take an artistic photo through the key hole of the door below. Didn’t turn out nearly as cool as I’d hoped.door3I love these doors.

lion-door–smClose-up of the lion on the front door.

latern–sm–iglesiaI love how intricate this chandelier is.

ceiling–smLove this church ceiling.

Church in sidewalkSeveral weeks after my visit to la Iglesia Catedral de Córdoba with Rachel, my Spanish profa showed us that the white bricks in the sidewalk in front of the church compose an image; a reflection of the church. Can you see it? Take a minute to admire how well it lines up with the shadow as well. I took this foto from the neighboring building, el Centro Cultural Cabildo Histórico.

arches–sanmartinOne view of Cabildo.

arches-front–smAnother view. Love the repetitive structure and Argentine flags.

geraniumsLoved the contrast of these bright-red geraniums and the dull, white edificio. This was taken between el Cabildo and la Iglesia Catedral on Pasaje Santa Catalina.

plazasanmartin–alleyThe view down Pasaje Santa Catalina.

After visiting the church and cultural center, we made our way into Plaza San Martín.

plazasanmartin-statueThis is the statue in the middle of the plaza. The plaza is located one minute from ICC (the school where I take Spanish classes). We have two 20-minute breaks during our 4-hour classes, so Plaza San Martín is always a good place to enjoy some fresh air.

indep-streetsignI love how this street sign was made of multiple tiles and placed onto a building. A nice change from reflective green signs with white lettering.

banderaargentinaLast stop of the day: Colegio Nacional de Monserrat. “Colegio” is equivalent to “high school.” This tends to be confusing for English-speakers, since the word is so similar to “college.”

door-famosaThe famous door of el Colegio de Monserrat. I love this door.

door2Another beautiful door del Colegio.

colegio–ladoA different view of el Colegio de Monserrat.

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Paseo de las artes

My favorite part of Córdoba? El paseo de las artes. What is El paseo de las artes? It’s basically a weekly arts market (every Saturday and Sunday) filled with cordobese artists who make anything from hand-bound journals and glass blown elephant pendants to ceramic mugs and ornately-carved mates de calabaza. The market is relatively large, as vendors post up along streets between la cañada and la calle Belgrano. I could easily spend hours wandering in and out of the alleyways that reveal hidden tiendas full of handcrafted gems, but money and suitcase space limit how much I can purchase. I can proudly say I’ve visited El paseo nearly every weekend that I’ve been in Córdoba, and I cannot wait to show my friend Margaret this Argentine gem when she arrives in Córdoba this Sunday!

Here are some fotos from mis paseos por el paseo:

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Jake was súper contento with his cake purchase. Rightfully so. He let me have some, and it truly was delish.

IMG_8454 - Version 2This adorable woman sells baked goods in El paseo. I have seen her at the market every time I have visited, and her treats seem to be very popular with the locals. There is always a line of people who are waiting to buy her tortas caseras (homemade cakes) and other delicious treats!

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This craft is one of the most memorable from all of my visits to the Paseo. The vendor takes the tool shown in the top center of the above picture to carve away parts of coins from around the world and turn them into beautiful pendants. I purchased a pendant made from a $10 (ARG peso) coin that is no longer in circulation.

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There are always kittens and puppies available for (free) adoption in the Paseo.IMG_8466I’m not sure what it is, but I am obsessed with succulents and other adorable little plants. I would buy this whole arrangement if it weren’t impossible to transport back to los EEUU.

Entrada de la estancia

Alta Gracia

Several Fridays back, Jake suggested we inquire about bus passes at the “Centro de turismo” located in the bus terminal we passed through on our route home from the hospital. After several minutes of speaking with one of the guides, we had planned a weekend full of fun. A visit to the house where Ernesto “Che” Guevara de la Serna lived as a child and a walk through a beautiful, 400ish-year-old estancia jesuítica in a small town about an hour away from Córdoba? Count me in.

The student group –6 of us– traveled to Alta Gracia in colectivo, a large bus that cost around $3 (USD) roundtrip. The ride was not exceptionally scenic, but it was also only about an hour in duration, so no complaints.

When arriving in Alta Gracia, we first visited the Estancia jesuítica – Casa  del Virrey Liniers. The following are some of the pictures I took during our tour.

Entrada 2 Estancia

After the Estancia, we visited “El museo del Che,” also known as “Villanydia.”  Ernestito’s family moved into the house in Alta Gracia as a “remedy” for his asma, hoping that life in the midst of fresh air and nature would ease his enfermedad.

The following are some fotos I took throughout our tour in “El museo del Che.” The entrance fee was around $9 (USD), which seemed a little pricey. Regardless, I am happy that I can add this experience to my list of adventures in Argentina!

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The view of the front of the house.

La moto 2

La poderosa. This is a lot more exciting if you a) know a thing or two about Che or b) have seen the film The Motorcycle Diaries/Los diarios de motocicleta.

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The other motobicicleta from Che’s travels.

VillanydiaThe name of the house.

After our tour of the museum, we walked around Alta Gracia a bit and tried to find a bus stop. It was near the end of the day, so the sun was looking real pretty and we could even see the sierras in the distance. Here’s a picture I took at the end of our day.

Tarde en AG

 

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Museo Anatómico Pedro Ara

In the middle of February, the student group took a trip to Museo Anatómica Pedro Ara (Pedro Ara Museum of Anatomy) en el Hospital Nacional de Clínicas. Who is Pedro Ara? Pedro Ara was a Spanish anatomist who perfected the art of parafinización, or the embedding of a tissue sample in paraffin wax, near the beginning of the 20th century. While he paraffinized many subjects throughout his 82 years of life, he is most famous for paraffinizing the body of María Eva Duarte de Perón, aka Evita, between 1952 and 1953.

According to the official website, Museo Anatómico Pedro Ara is home to 1101 specimen. Although there are many photos of the artifacts online, I took some pictures for the memories. Here they are!

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Sign when entering the museum.

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Writing on one of the skulls.

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With the black and red markings, these seemed so artistic. Hard to really wrap my head around the fact that they were at one point living people.

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A different view.

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I don’t remember what this was (I’m not a med student yet)!

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My favorite picture of the day! One of many specimen included in the kidney display.

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I loved the illustration juxtaposed with the real version.

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The precision that went into paraffinizing this little body amazes me.

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¡Esqueleto!

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“El viejo.” Ara’s second most famous work, after Evita. This man was homeless and requested that his body be preserved for the museum.

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Hola, Córdoba

Finally, after spending three weeks in Argentina’s second-largest city, I’m getting to my first post. What have I been up to? What are my first impressions? Here are a few words to answer those questions.

Córdoba: Both a city and a province, home to many Argentine universities/facultades, located in the geographic center of Argentina, and filled with somewhere near 1.3 million friendly, mate-drinking locals who speak as if they were singing. I have never lived in a city before, so spending time in the middle of taxi-filled streets and crowded sidewalks is a new experience for me. I am also living on the fourth floor of an apartment in the center of town with a host mom of 41 years, her 14-year-old daughter, and her 19-year-old niece who is in her second year of medical school (more on the difference between US and Argentine school systems later). Also a new experience, since I have previously only lived in smaller apartments in Ann Arbor and my house in Rockford, MI. Regardless of being in a city quite different from home, my Argentine host family is very welcoming, and it’s great to be able to practice my Spanish on a daily basis. Here’s a glimpse of what I see when stepping out onto the balcony at my homestay!

Vista del balcón

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Sunnier view.

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I love this wall of plants.

silla para sentar y leerPeaceful place to sit and read.  

During my first two weeks in Córdoba, I went to Hospital San Roque. I spent one week in the quirófano (OR) and one week with the residents of medicina interna.

Here is a picture of the student group (LR: me, Katy, Will, Rachel, Jake, Jake). Photo cred: Rachel Giesey’s instagram.

Hospital San RoqueHere is a picture of Rachel and I with two of the internal medicine residents (LR: me, Melisa, Rachel, Melina). Las dos eran super amables y nos enseñaron mucho sobre cómo se tomó la anamnesis de un(a) paciente.

San Roque – Medicina Interna

Over the course of the first two weeks, I had 30 hours of Spanish class with Intercambio Cultural. Since classes were from 4-7 (or as they say here, 16-19), I often walked around or got dinner at night. Here are some of the first photos I took when strolling around town. Both are from the manzana jesuítica (Jesuit block).

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I couldn’t help but admire how ornate this door was.