Sunday, 8 September 2013

A week of empanadas, queso and cerveza...now we're in Cordoba

It was goodbye to Buenos Aires 2 nights ago - until we return on the 17th en route to Uruguay. We did what many Argentines do - took the overnight bus from BA arriving in Cordoba (700km or 435 miles NW of BA) at 6.30am this morning.

Cordoba is Argentina's second city with a population of around 1.4 million. It is in the foothills of the Sierras Chicas on the Suquía River. Part of the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000. It is also a university town and boasts the youngest average population in Argentina. (Thanks Lonely Planet and Wikipedia for the facts!).

Before we boarded the bus in BA we'd been forewarned that the bus stations are not very nice, nor safe places, but with your wits on medium to high alert, it was perfectly fine. Night travel doesn't really work for me - I rarely sleep, so it was a shame that the darkness prevented me looking out the window at the Pampas (the fertile farm land region of Argentina). I spent the night listening to music, reading Saturday's Times on my iPad and pondering how I can convey to more of our Guild members how much they'd get out of the IFAJ and its congresses. I think I will return to this point over my tenure in the Chair!

Back to expanse of the Argentina's farming areas. It's anticipated that the production of soya from the Pampas this coming year is likely to be the highest yet - at 52.7million tons according to the Buenos Aires Herald (English newspaper). With the high global demand for soya and a 35% export tax on this commodity, Argentina's President - Cristina Fernández de Kirchner - is likely to be a happy lady - high yields/production = high exports = dollars = the ability to repay national debt.

The President has had an interesting week. She's had a spat with the U.S. courts which have ruled against her government in a decade-long legal battle over debts that have been unpaid since the country's world-record, $100 billion default. "Rather than comply with Friday's unanimous ruling ordering her government to pay $1.4 billion in cash to a group of plaintiffs she calls "vulture funds," President Cristina Fernandez is proposing another debt swap: offering new bonds to be paid in dollars in Buenos Aires to anyone still holding defaulted debt." (From Nanaimo Daily News).

She has also met with Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit, where she announced that Argentina has the same position regarding Syria - that of non intervention. Added to all of this, the Olympic Committee is currently meeting in Buenos Aires as Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid battle it out for the 2020 Olympics. Princess Anne has come to BA for the IOC decision, but the BA Herald says that she is in hiding - the authorities are worried for her safety as Malvenas protestors target her.

The weather is stunning today in Cordoba, the Jacaranda trees are in near full bloom in many of the streets; the warmth of the air carries a heady sweet smell from their lovely purple flowers. The cafe culture here makes it a great place to wind down and let the world wash over you. It's also a fantastic place to walk around, taking in the historic architecture - a mix of Spanish, French and Italian.

Most of the city's historical monuments are preserved from Spanish colonial rule, especially buildings of the Roman Catholic Church. The Jesuit Block (Spanish: Manzana Jesuítica), is the UNESCO area of the city which consists of a group of buildings dating from the 17th century (thanks again Wikipedia for this info).

We're off out soon - this warm, early evening in t-shirts, heading to a Parilla for some more delicious Argentine steak and a bottle of Malbec. 


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