Sunday, 14 October 2012

Location, location, location

We're finally back in Cordoba.  Our 4 pm flight was cancelled so we flew out of BA at 7 and arrived in Cordoba around 8:30 pm.  We quickly got our luggage, found our driver, and then headed to our new apartment.  Here's how our housing in Argentina works: Daniela is John's amazing secretary here.  She finds us a list of apartments based on our wish list - one bedroom, full-sized fridge, balcony (with BBQ if possible), and wireless. We look at the lists online, usually while John's at work and I'm elsewhere, and decide on our new home. These apartments come fully furnished and with basic kitchen provisions like plates, cups, cutlery, etc.

However, whenever John heads home for a week or longer, then he has to give up the apartment.  We pack everything up in boxes and suitcases, and whatever isn't coming home with us in stored in his office.  While the apartments are furnished, we've picked up extras like a colander, grater, saran wrap, tinfoil, a toaster, a good frying pan/wok , spices and some knives, etc.  I think we are up to two boxes and one very large suitcase of misc. additional 'stuff' that has to be packed and moved, in addition to our two suitcases each of clothes, shoes and toiletries.  When we come back, we stay in Buenos Aires at a hotel for a few days and live out of the two suitcases while he works at the plant there, then back to Cordoba to the next new apartment.  We really liked the apartment we had on Ovidio Lagos in July and August, but it wasn't available right now.  That's why we are here at nuestra nuevo casa numero cuatro (our new house, number four). 

So, back to our story.....  It was about 9 pm and we arrived at the gates of a huge compound with nine towers surrounded by a brick fence with a security gate.  The driver explained who we were and why we were there.  But while we had keys that Daniela had sent to the driver, we didn't have the name of which tower we were staying in or the apartment number.  John's Argentinean phone had a cracked screen and they had just given him a new one.  None of his contacts had been transferred onto the new phone so he tried looking for Daniela's number on his old phone.  Luckily he found someone's number, who was able to convince the security guard to let us in!

Up we went to the 15th floor to see our new home.  It was much smaller than the last apartment in every way - the rooms were smaller, the balcony was smaller, less closet space in the bedroom, no cabinet space in the bathroom.  But once I got everything unpacked the next morning, the suitcases stowed away, and added a few baskets to the bathroom, the space was working out OK. This compound is lovely, clean and so self contained.  It is all very new, with a big swimming pool and lots of little shops right on the grounds - several small grocery stores, a wine and cheese shop, a hairdresser, even a laundromat where you drop off your laundry and then pick it up later in the day, all washed and folded for only 26 pesos a load ($5).  Since it is a relatively new complex, many of the stores are still empty so the variety of shops will probably continue to expand over the next few months.

From our balcony we have a beautiful view of the Sierra Grandes and can watch the sunset over the mountains each night.  But the reason we have such a good view of the mountains is because we are on the very very edge of town, with mostly residential and some commercial buildings in one direction and open land in the other direction.  They have tried to create a compound that is like one of those Caribbean resorts where you never have to leave.  And quite frankly, after a week of exploring, there isn't much reason to go out into the neighbourhood.  Any restaurants are at least five or six blocks away and the only store within a short walking distance is WalMart.   All the other shops are quite a long hike away. 

The problem is that it doesn't feel like we're in Cordoba.  I'm not the type of person who goes to the resort and doesn't leave the grounds.  I'm more of a 'get out and explore with the locals kind of gal.  So, last week I decided it was time to learn how to get around on the local buses.  Now I have best of both worlds - a nice apartment to call home for now and easy access to the hustle and bustle of downtown. 

The bus system here is actually pretty good, and like most things in Argentina, very affordable.  In order to ride the bus, you have to have a Red Bus Tarjeta (card) which you can load and reload with any amount of pesos.  When you get on the bus, you swipe your card and it prints you out a receipt letting you know the balance remaining on your card.  Each bus ride is $3.20 pesos (about 60 cents).  This is a lot cheaper than the $40 peso ($9) cab fare for the twenty minute ride from here to downtown which is still ridiculously cheap compared to any Canadian or American city I've ever been in. 

There is a great website where you use a map to indicate your starting point and your destination and the website tells you which bus routes to take and the approximate time for the entire journey.  This is not just for Cordoba but for any major city in Argentina. There is another website where you can locate all of the stores that sell the Red Bus Tarjetas.  That being said, yesterday we went to buy John a bus card and the first two or three stores that we went to were out of cards.  Since we were already downtown, we just went from kiosco to kiosco until we found one that had cards available.  Now we're both able to head downtown whenever we want.  Yesterday's bus trip was to Mercado Norte, a huge bustling market with lots and lots of meat for sale as well as a few fruits and vegetables and other things. 

I'm not even sure what all of these are, I just know that I don't want to eat them.

We're heading to Buenos Aires next week and then home to Windsor for a week, so once again, we'll be giving up our apartment.  When we are back in early November we'll be in another new place, this one on the edge of Barrio Guemes and only a ten or fifteen minute walk downtown.  We'll be staying there until Christmas.  It will be great to be able to unpack our things and keep them unpacked for weeks on end! 

Within the next few weeks, John will have to decide where he wants to stay when he comes back in January - back to the great neighbourhood feel of Ovidio Lagos, the convenience of our location here at Altos Villa, or maybe our new neighbourhood in Barrio Guemes.  Who knows?  If none of those are available for a long stay, he could end up someplace new and different again.  It's all part of the adventure!


  1. Hi, I love your blog. I'm new to Cordoba. I left Argentina when I was 5 and was raised in the U.S. where I've lived for the past 30 years. Coming back has been a huge culture shock and it's great to here about other expat's experiences.

  2. Hi!!!!
    Great blog!!! you're very funny to read!! I'm Canadian (from Toronto)and now live in a city called Villa Maria (150 km from Cordoba capital).
    Keep posting! Don't feel you're talking to yourself ... I'm here reading, not quite commenting but enjoying your 'adventure' in Argentina.
    I posted something on the forum about an hour ago asking if there were any expats interested in getting together in Cordoba. Wouldn't it be great if we could meet and have a cup of coffee? I mean there must be quite a few expats in Cordoba, I imagine.
    Well, anyway. Keep writing and I'll keep reading!

  3. Sounds hectic! But it's great to hear so much about other places in Argentina, outside of BA. You've made me so interested in Cordoba, which I hadn't even heard of a year ago! Also, we're looking into a trip to Mendoza, so thanks for the recommendations!

    When you're in BA and looking for a coffee date, hit me up!


Thanks for posting on my blog!