With March fast approaching, Córdoba is nearing the end of its summer season. Lately, the mornings and early evenings have been much cooler, with the hottest part of the day passing in the last hour of class. It’s the perfect time to tie my hair up in a bun, slide on some sandals, and enjoy an easygoing camino through my neighborhood to the nearest supermarket (that isn’t Wal-Mart).
Since one of my classmates has a birthday on Thursday, I asked my host mom to help me prepare a more traditionally Argentine cake rather than emailing home for one of my sister’s recipes. She very enthusiastically agreed, and after taking tea yesterday afternoon, I asked her for a list of ingredients to buy. It’s a good thing she knew the ingredients and the best brands for each by heart, because I might never have found all of the materials I needed:
– una caja de torta chocolate “Exquisita”
- un dulce de leche “Sancor”
- una crema de leche “Sancor” o “La Sirenísima”
- una lata de duraznos
- 300 gramos de pulpa de frutilla
- cobertura de chocolate blanca y negra O tabletas de chocolate
Translated, we have:
– one box of chocolate cake
- one dulce de leche (literally “milk sweet”)
- one milk cream
- one can of peaches
- 300 grams of strawberry pulp
- white and dark chocolate frosting OR bars
Also included in this recipe are three eggs and 250 milliliters of milk.
Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?
Anyway, to buy these items, I needed to walk two blocks down Avenida Patria, take a right on Calle Buchardo, and walk another three blocks to Super Vea. De ida y vuelta (there and back), it lasted right at an hour. If you don’t mind, I’d like to share this stroll with you through photos. Hope you enjoy the tour!
We’ll start with a view from my balcony. My house overlooks the trolley station (which is hidden behind the tree) and Banco Patagonia, the closest banking center to my house.
My first stop on this adventure was actually around the corner from Banco Patagonia at a local librería, or bookstore. I purchased photocopies there once before, but this time I needed to have my textbook spiral-bound since the pages were already disconnecting from the glue binding. The process took about ten minutes and cost me just over US$2.
Returning to Avenida Patria, there is a sidewalk kiosco (kiosk) with a Coca-Cola logo and a verdulería (produce stand) on the opposite corner. Both of these kinds of stores are very typical along commercial streets. The kioscos, which sell snacks, soft drinks, and other convenience items, are located almost every four stores. The verdulerías aren’t as common, but there are a good five of them within my three blocks of walking.
Along any busy street, it’s not uncommon to find graffiti advertising a local store or strong political viewpoint. This beautiful artwork encourages passersby to “Buscanos en feibu“, or “Find us on Facebook”, and includes the contact information and name of the store being advertised: “SALKA.”
Having just completed the first block of my stroll, this corner boasts a kiosco selling things such as sandwiches, soft drinks, cigarettes, and cell phone charge cards, and the other corner has a panadería-café (bakery-café) and a bicycle shop. Around 4:00 in the afternoon, most stores and restaurants close for about two hours during a period of descanso (napping), and then reopen around 6:00 for the merienda, which is considered snack time since dinner doesn’t begin until at least 9:00. Traditional bicycles and motorbikes are also very common here, especially among young adults.
Just before the intersection of Avenida Patria and Buchardo, there is a gas station called Sol. You may not be able to read the sign that contains the prices, but the lowest-grade gasoline is dispensed at AR$6,749 per liter. Converted into American units, that is roughly US$5.11 per gallon. Looks like we have the better deal right now!
Finally, my intersection! An arrow on each sign indicates the flow of traffic, since so many roads in Córdoba are one-way, as well as the grid coordinates to help orient yourself with a map of the city.
In residential areas within the city limits, most houses are side-by-side and gated, and the nicer houses have a small front yard within those gates. Also common are tile terraces within the houses and open-air hallways between different sections of the house.
Most residential streets are lined with trees that remind me of the walk from Old Main to Olin Building. They sure are beautiful to see en camino!
Finally, I arrived at the grocery store Super Vea, which was about half the size of a Bi-Lo or Publix but also included a small section of larger household appliances. The people who worked there were incredibly helpful and, of course, asked where I was from. It’s hard to blend in when you’re a blond girl with a strange accent! But I found everything I needed except for pulpa de frutilla, so I decided to start looking at some local verdulerías for the elusive ingredient. One day and seven tiendas later, I found it in a cotillón (party store) on the opposite corner of the bank, for AR$4 a 100-gram unit.
Upon my return home, the trolley that operates right across the street was dropping off its passengers, so I got to snap a quick picture! I have yet to ride this bus, which follows a large square through the centro along electrical cables, but I hope to soon.
Thinking about the full two weeks I’ve had to orient myself and gain more confidence in my explorations, I really love living in this big, bustling city. I always imagined myself as the type who enjoyed small towns and villages frozen in another time, but after my January terms in Viña del Mar and Rome and my summers in Dallas and near Seattle, the pace and activity of city life suits me well. I like waking up early to wait for the bus and memorizing primary streets that I can access within walking distance. I love stumbling into a main plaza to find couples dancing tango to music provided by the municipal government. It amazes me that I can walk six blocks from a modern shopping mall in favor of a thrift store and, two blocks further, a local artisans’ fair. The daytime is filled with people to observe and brightly-colored signs to read, while the night offers the opportunity to socially interact with friends and other young adults your age, whether at a bar or in a boliche (club). (And the dancing that happens in these clubs is not what you would expect — it is an interesting hybrid of close proximity and stylized footwork.) The only way to encounter boredom here is to not venture outside, and where’s the adventure in that?
All that to say, I think I’m a city girl, and I’m going to love spending the next five months in this neighborhood and within the city limits of Córdoba.