Thursday, December 19, 2013

Alta Gracia / Cordoba

In order to break up the long trip north to Iguazu Falls, we decided to stop off at the quaint town of Alta Gracia.  Alta Gracia is famous for being the home of Che Guevara from 1932 to 1944.  His parents brought him to Alta Gracia (High Grace) because they hoped the dry and clean air would help with his asthma, which he suffered from throughout his life.  At 16, Che left Alta Gracia for Buenos Aires to pursue his education as a physician.

Che's house has since been converted into a museum, where we were able to spend the day.

If you've never had the chance to watch the movie "Motorcycle Diaries", I highly recommend it.  It's about the early life of Che, where he takes the above pictured motorcycle across South America to find himself, going into adulthood.  Beautiful move!

It's interesting that many of our most celebrated human rights activists have had a rather unfortunate histories with the CIA.  The late Nelson Mandela was visiting his home in South Africa, when CIA informed the local government his whereabouts, allowing them to imprison him for 27 years, starting in 1962!  Che met his end in Bolivia, where again, the CIA informed the local government of his whereabouts, leading to his capture and execution!  Throughout South America, Che is still celebrated as a hero - one that fought for a free and united people.

On a totally unrelated topic, check out this bimbo!

Other than the Che museum, there wasn't a whole lot of things to do in Alta Gracia, other than to take in the local beauty (like this drunken donkey).  This is where Lydia and I first learned about the Argentine "siesta" time.  Lydia and I walked around the downtown core at around mid day on a week day, and found that the place was a ghost town.  There wasn't a person or open shop in sight.  What we later learned is that the Argentinians have a much different work schedule than what we keep at home.  They will typically wake up when they wake up; make it to their business at around 9ish, work for a couple of hours; close shop and go home for a few hours to spend with their family; go back to the shop for 'a couple' more hours of work; close the shop when they feel like it, and then drink into the wee hours of the morning.  I couldn't understand why they had a recent economic crisis!  It's definitely the place to be if you want to chillaxe for the rest of your life!  It makes shopping a little difficult though :)

Alta Gracia was also the home of multiple beautiful parks, with really cool old-school playground equipment.

Lydia and I didn't miss the opportunity to spend the day riding horses, meeting the local natives, and fighting octopi!

We also found a vintage public water slide, which we raced toy ducks down!  I won!

We also met a young Forest Gump at play!

Throughout the park, there were lots of grazing horses and ponies, which really added to the experience!

Never seen this kind of horse before!

After a night or two in Alta Gracia, we stayed the night in Cordoba (a major city), before heading off on the final leg to Iguazu.  I can't really say too much about Cordoba, other than it was our first experience seeing copious rent-by-the-hour motels, and that it was the first time we experienced our favourite wine, Tomero - a Malbec from Mendoza.  Soooooo good (even when drank from a plastic cup in a rent-by-the-hour motel)!!!!!

Finally, Cordoba was also our first experience with public street tango!  So beautiful!

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