Settling In| June 4, 2009
Happy Thursday! Well, seeing as the last time I wrote was the night before I left and I have been in Cordoba for almost a week, there is a lot to tell! I arrived in Cordoba last Friday, after a long, somewhat stressful journey. My flight from Chicago to Miami was delayed for two hours, and I really started thinking I was going to miss my overnight flight from Miami to Santiago, Chile. In the end, I just had time to use the restroom and buy a bottle of water before they began boarding the plane. Initially, I was worried that while I myself would arrive in Santiago, my luggage would not. An airport worker assured me, however, that the luggage moves from plane to plane faster than the people. Luckily, he was right!
My flight from Miami to Cordoba was extremely pleasant. The food was decent and I watched the movie Yes Man, which ended up being really funny. Also, because there were so few people, I actually got to lay across three seats and get about five hours of sleep. We arrived in Santiago, Chile, and I somehow made myself stay awake for three hours so as not to miss the final leg of my journey to Cordoba. My plans to sleep on the short flight to Cordoba were thwarted by the fact that we had to fill out this detailed health form. Then, when we arrived in Cordoba, each person had to stop in front of a camera/scanner type machine and open his/her mouth. I don’t know exactly what was going on, but I’m guessing it was some kind of body temperature assessor. Argentina seems to be taking all precautions to prevent an outbreak of Swine Flu!
I stayed at a hostel in Cordoba from Friday to Monday morning. Even though I had been in touch with several people regarding the ad I posted on a Cordoba housing website, I wanted to actually visit some apartments before deciding where to live. The hostel was pretty empty, so even though I only paid for a dorm room, I basically had a private room. I was exhausted on Friday night, so I pretty much just got dinner, and went to bed. When I woke up (around noon) on Saturday, I got the feeling I always get when I’m alone in another country: panicky loneliness. Instead of letting this feeling take over, I immediately went online and went to Couchsurfing.com. For those of you who don’t know, this is one of the absolute BEST pages for travelers. Essentially, it is a site where people who love to travel offer to meet up with or host travelers in their cities, with the hopes that the same will be offered to them when they travel. I had joined the “Cordoba” group, and I saw that there was an event planned for that night: one of the Cordoba ambassadors for Couchsurfing was having a pre-party at his house that night, after which people would all go to this big party featuring a popular local band. I saw that tons of people were signed up to go, including people from the U.S., France, Germany, and Brazil, so I decided to sign up too. Even though I was a little nervous about showing up where I knew no one, I had the greatest time and met tons of new people, including people actually living in Cordoba. I ended up leaving with some of my new friends at around 6 in the morning, and the party was only just getting started! Outside of the party there was a vendor selling something known as “choripan,” which is basically two chorizo links (kind of like bratwursts) between two pieces of toasted bread, i.e. a very fancy hotdog. It was delicious! For anyone who is traveling, especially traveling alone, I recommend joining the Couchsurfing group of the city where you will be living and going to an activity. It’s a fantastic way to meet new people.
On Monday morning I moved into my new “home.” I’m living in a neighborhood called “Nueva Cordoba,” which is where most of the city’s students live. Cordoba is the premier “University City” in Argentina, and students come here from all over the country. My neighborhood is filled with bars and restaurants, so it has a really cool vibe. Fortunately (maybe I’ll get in shape) and unfortunately (I have to wake up earlier) it’s about a half-hour walk from my apartment to my work. Also, the fact that Winter is just beginning here makes it a bit of a chilly walk in the mornings. But the fact that the city does not have a map with the bus routes (I’m serious, I have asked EVERYONE, and they all answer as though this is the most normal thing in the world), and that the line is always about 150 people long has dissuaded me from talking the bus. Really though, the walk is quite pleasant, especially in the afternoon when the sun is shining. My apartment is really nice. It takes up the whole 11th floor. In one part lives a young couple with their baby (who, coincidentally, is one day older than my niece), we share the kitchen, and I basically have my own apartment in the other part. Because I moved in Monday morning, and started work the same day, we haven’t really gotten a chance to spend much time together, but I think we might all take a trip to a local town this weekend.
My first day at CEDHA was pretty informal. “Informal” is actually a great way to describe CEDHA itself. There is no dress code, and because the office is so small, different people are always coming and going and working at different desks. It took me until Wednesday to finally meet everyone in the office, and they are all sooooooo incredibly nice, friendly, and helpful. I still haven’t gotten too deep in any assignments yet. Mostly I have been hearing and reading about projects on which the various groups are working, and I should be getting my work plan for the rest of my time here tomorrow. The best part about the job so far is that I can tell I’m really going to look forward to coming here every day and seeing everyone.. Plus, the fact that when you enter and when you leave, everyone gives you a beso (kiss) on your cheek makes you feel pretty special.
Hopefully by next week I’ll have more substantive things to say about the work, but I hope you have enjoyed hearing a little about the city and my life here!
Hasta la proxima!