Thursday, June 28, 2012

Exploring Cordoba Capital, Argentina

Taking photos near Plaza Colon

It’s been a week and a half since we moved from the rambunctious life in New York City to the more tranquil and beautiful province of Cordoba. In that time, we’ve been exploring our neighborhood a piece at a time. Fortunately, our parents have been invaluable guides on our journey.

Checking the local supermarkets was our first step. The markets are of the same standards as those in the United States. One of the markets, Hyper Libertad is equivalent to a Walmart (Cordoba has two but I still haven’t  gone to one as of this post). It has an electronics, DVD, music, toy, exercise, hardware, furniture, cyber, clothing, and food department.
There are at least two DVD rental stores in the nearby area as well as various restaurants which offer pizza, pasta, steak, chicken and pastries. You can buy just about anything here. If there is one thing you will never do in Argentina is starve. Food is very affordable. There are also several coffee shops (similar to a cafĂ© in Europe), most of which offer wi-fi.

Tipping in Argentina isn't as common as it is in the United States. Around here you can give your local barber or taxi driver $2 Argentinian Pesos (equivalent to a few U.S. cents) and you’ll find that the locals are quite grateful. Unfortunately, you have to watch out for beggars. They're everywhere. Sometimes they'll hold a door open as you get out of a cab or you hail a taxi, and you find yourself having to pay them a few cents or a peso just to get rid of them. 
I went to a local haircuttery place near my home the other day, and got my haircut for $12 Pesos (Equivalent to $3 US Dollars + $2 pesos in tip). It might not seem like a big deal, but I did it on my own and it can be very intimidating to do anything in Argentina when you’ve been living as an American for 30 years. I truly have a deeper appreciation for foreigners since I’ve moved to Argentina. 
Interior shot of the 4 level mall called Patio Olmos
A few days ago, my mother took us to the mall near Nueva Cordoba called Patio Olmos. It used to be a school, but was later donated and turned into a shopping center. It has four levels. Aside from clothing and shoe stores, Patio Olmos has a movie theater called Hoyt, which offers the latest American film releases. You can either watch them in 3D or regular 2D. You can even watch the movie in English with Spanish subtitles, or dubbed in Spanish. 

On the third level is where the food court is and … WAIT FOR IT! A McDonald’s and a Burger King!!!! Call me an idiot but when I saw those two at the food court I felt a little homesick and at the same time a little relieved. McD’s and Burger King were two of my favorite fast food joints in the States. Seeing them brought me back to a scene in a movie I once saw called “Not Without My Daughter”, where Sally Fields is trying to escape from Iran with her daughter, and at the end of the movie she sees an American flag from the U.S. Embassy and smiles. I know. I’m a sentimental fool. Then again, I only left the U.S. a week and a half ago. Of course I’m going to feel nostalgic. Now back to the mall. On the fourth level is a bowling alley and several arcades and children’s area.

Not too far from the mall is a vast shopping area which spans several blocks. It is breathtaking to see and I’m not sure I can describe it all in one entry. So I’ll save the full description for a future post. All I can say is that it’s the equivalent of Union Square and Manhattan in NYC. There are several stores, clothing, books, restaurants, plazas and a big crowd of people.

El Centro
El Centro near Plaza San Martin
Plaza San Martin
Argentinean Flag in Plaza San Martin
Tour Bus stops by Plaza San Martin
Nueva Cordoba - Outside of Patio Olmos Shopping Center
It costs less than 30 pesos to get Patio Olmos or Nueva Cordoba and another 30 pesos to get back in Taxi fare (That’s the total equivalent of $10 U.S. dollars round trip).
After we got home, my spouse and I decided to order a pizza, but then we realized that neither of us had a cell phone service, or phone line installed yet. So we walked over to the nearest pizzeria and ordered a large mozzarella pizza (known as muzzarella here), with a large order of fries. It cost us $38 pesos ($6.50 U.S. Dollars). My spouse didn’t like the pizza because of the olives they put on top of it and the overpowering cheesy smell, but I thought it was okay. The fries were hot and crunchy too. 

It might not seem like much but I think we’ve taken a lot of steps in the right direction. We've ventured out and explored Cordoba. The currency, customs and language are still a bit of a challenge, but I think we're going to be alright. 

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