July 13, 2010 GMT
Cordoba

We rode out of buenos Aires in searing heat, northeast towards Cordoba, and arrived in the city centre 8 hours after we pulled out of Luis’ garage.
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On the way to Cordoba, at last , the Argentinian roads began to get exciting again


The city was uninspiring to say the least, not helped by the greying skies overhead. The city had a slightly oppressive feel to it, and try as I may, I couldn’t get excited about it. After being in Buenos Aires, which had turned out to be one of our favourite cities, Cordoba was definitely a step down, to say the least. I knew that I had only seen a very small part of the city, and that I should not really be judging at this early stage. I had made that mistake many times before, and Jacquie was trying to teach me the importance of patience, and not judging too quickly, but I was a slow learner.
We found the hostel after a couple of wrong turns, unloaded the bike, and parked him up in an garage for the night.
The hostel, in keeping with what we had experienced of Cordoba so far, was bland and unexciting, but at least offered a free tango lesson on the roof. Jacquie and I showered and made our way up to the roof, refreshed and feeling slightly more upbeat.
We mingled with our fellow travellers while we awaited the arrival of our tango teachers, and were assured that the city had enough o offer to keep us occupied for a couple of days.
Our teachers arrived, introduced themselves, and started off with a demonstration of Tango- the way it should be done. We were blown away. The couple moved together as if joined by some invisible glue. Each movement was perfectly coordinated, delicate and graceful.
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How to Tango

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How Not to Tango

Then it was our turn.
I consider myself a bit of a dancer, more of a Hip Hop B-Boy kind of dancer than a ballroom dancer, but I got rhythm, and I was ready to give it a go. Jacquie too was enthralled by the raw sexiness and the fluidity of the Tango, and we were both hoping to get to grips with at least the basics.
We paid close attention to our instructors, watched their every move, and did our best to replicate what we saw. The result was mostly a series of steps in which I mainly trod on Jacquie’s toes, while she responded with genteel kicks to my shins.
We looked on enviously as the Tango specialists showed us once more what we should be looking like, and then couldn’t help but laugh as we watched the other dancers in our group stumble their way through the few steps that were being taught. We were happy to see that at least we weren’t the only ones having a hard time taking to the choreography.
The instructors were obviously used to seeing their beloved dance being utterly destroyed by Gringo tourists, and were patient and gracious with us. Eventually, we began to get it together. We were still a long way from ever being able to dance together in a public place, but Jacquie and I would often grab each other randomly in the street and practice the little that we had learnt. Well, I should say that I would randomly grab Jacquie and Tango her around for a minute or two until she broke loose of me and berated me for making a spectacle of ourselves in public.
Jacquie got picked up a couple of days later from the hostel to go to the ranch to ride her beloved horses, and I made my way over to Edgar’s house, where I would be staying while Jacquie was living the good life.
I found their house, a few miles from the city in centre in a residential area of Cordoba, and as I pulled up outside, Edgar and his sister, Marcela came outside to greet me.
The welcomed me into their home like a long lost brother, and as per correct Argentine social practices, I was informed that there was to be an Asado that night with friends to welcome me to the neighbourhood.
I settled in, chucked all my clothes in the washing machine, had a quick nap, and woke in time to shower and get ready for the Asado.
Edgar’s friends began to arrive, and soon the house was surrounded by Harleys, and the meat was piling high on the grill. This was yet another Argentine house complete with seemingly mandatory built-in outside Asado grill. We sat on a couple of wooden benches, drinking beer, and eating the delicious meat from the Asado.
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Once the beer was gone, Edgar and his mates switched to the drink of choice for many Argentineans, Fernet coca. Fernet, obviously imported for the Argentineans of Italian descent, by Argentineans of Italian descent, was a hugely popular drink here in Argentina, and as was the norm, and in fitting with the Argentine tradition, a litre bottle of Fernet stood on the table flanked by 2, 2-liter bottles of Coke.
We helped ourselves to the drink, and as the night grew on, the Fernet disappeared, the guests began slinking off , and I staggered off to bed.
The next morning, feeling slightly the worse for wear, I followed Edgar to Lucas’ workshop.
Lucas had been at the house with us the previous night, and looked almost as bad as I felt. He looked at us through bloodshot, watery eyes, and beckoned us to bring the bike in.
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With Garth in the workshop, I went and bought us all coffee and biscuits.
Lucas got to work on Garth, removing the air cleaner, oil filter and draining the oil, poking at the brake pads, and checking the primary oil level,
We chatted to each other as he worked away, and before long, the job was done, and Garth was wheeled out.
We went back to Edgar’s where he asked me if I would like to go out to the mountains for a weekend away with him some friends.
I agreed, and we made arrangements for our departure. Edgar would leave before us to pick up his girlfriend in the pick up, and Marcela and I would meet them at a service station on the outskirts of town. The sky was a nasty, threatening shade of very dark grey, and I was unsure if leaving just before sundown was the best time to be heading out into a possible, even probable, rainstorm.
All doubts aside, we set off at around 5pm, just at the start of the city’s rush hour. We battled our way into the city centre, and just as we hit the central Plaza, the rain came down. This was no light splattering of rain either. The downpour, when it came, was ferocious. There were enough waterproofs for one; Marcela had a waterproof jacket on already, so I pulled over to get into my gear. We rode to the service station where we were to meet Edgar, and I told Marcela that I really didn’t fancy another couple of hours riding through the rainstorm in the dark.
We met Edgar, and explained that the weather had, for me at least, stopped play.
Edgar had to carry on, his friends were already there, as were his girlfriend’s. We waved them off and returned to the service station to see if the rains would slow up.
We sat and watched the news reports, all showing flooded roads and traffic jams, cars getting washed down the streets, and houses collapsing.
This was not looking good.
We sat and drank coffee, and within about half an hour, the rain had indeed lightened. We got back on the bike and headed back the way we had come into the city centre.
The road had indeed flooded. My lights had lost all sense of direction once again, and were doing a good job of blinding oncoming traffic, leaving both parties sightless as we passed each other in the dark. I timidly followed in the wake of the 4x4s in front of me. I would pause at each junction, where water came rapidly gushing down the slopes, trying to find the shallowest point to cross, but it was all guess work.
At places these junctions were under a foot or more of water. We pulled up at one, and there was a young mother, with her small son perched on the back oh her moped.
I attempted to offer to ride the woman’s bike over, but this got misunderstood, before I even realised what was going on, her son was passed from her bike tours, and wedged in between Marcela and me.
I eased Garth into the fast flowing river that was crossing the junction in front of us, and powered out the other side, where I waited for the boy’s mother to bring her bike across. She followed behind us, and we returned her very nervous looking son to his perch on the back of the moped.
We rode through the chaotic city centre and arrived back at the house, 14kms and 2 hours after we initially departed.
Marcela made some phone calls, and arranged to meet up with some more friends in the city. We changed into dry clothes, and swapped Garth for Marcela’s van and headed off once more to the city centre.
We spent the evening bar hopping round Cordoba, downing three bottles of Fernet between the 9 of us, before going back to the house to pass out.
The rain continued through the weekend, and I couldn’t help thinking about Jacquie, hoping that she was being spared the weather besieging the rest of us.
She had been really looking forward to riding on the pampas fields with gauchos, rounding up cattle and sleeping by an open campfire.
In the meantime, Marcela and friend of hers, who lived just around the corner form the house, were showing me around Cordoba.
My Fernet fuelled weekend came to a close and I returned to the hostel in Cordoba to meet up with Jacquie. We were both ready to get moving, so we looked at the map, read the Lonely Planet, and picked our destination.
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Fond Farewells from the Cordoba Posse, Edgar, Lucas and friend

We left bright and early to ride out of town, and made our way out of the city and up to Capilla del Monte, a popular holiday spot for Argentineans, and is wasn’t until I went to fill up with gas that I realised I didn’t have my credit card.
I thought back to the last time I had used my card and my heart sank when I realised it was in an ATM in Cordoba.
I called the bank, and with the help of the hostel staff, determined that the card was being help at the bank. I left Jacquie in Capilla while I rode back to Cordoba,. It was a rare occasion that I got to ride Garth with no luggage and no passenger, so I thoroughly enjoyed giving Garth a bit of a hard ride on the way back into the city. I picked up the card, and turned round to ride another 3 hours back to Capilla.
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I enjoyed a slightly more leisurely ride back up to Capilla, stopping along the way to dip my toes in the river that ran parallel to the road, and arrived back at Capilla just in time for another beautiful Argentinean sunset.

Posted by Dan Shell at July 13, 2010 11:46 AM GMT
 


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