Cordoba: Student Life

Posted on June 16, 2011


Thanks to the nasal acoustics of the Argentinian sat next to me on my bus from Mendoza to Cordoba, I was unable to get any sleep at all and thus spent my first morning in Argentina´s second city catching up on rest. I had checked into Tango Hostel, a friendly place with decent facilities with the promise of social activities come nightfall.

I was up early afternoon to walk around and take in my new surroundings. Cordoba as a city is architecturally impressive and a manageable size, thus attracting those that are dazzled by the tempo and stature of Buenos Aires. It´s a big student town, and seemed to me almost as scenic a place to study as I imagine Oxford or Cambridge to be. The centro area was literally swarming with students between classes, and the fact that the streets around my hostel were lined with bars and clubs suggested those studying hold some sway here.

Bizarrely, however, every single one of Cordoba´s many museums close on a Monday, the day I had been misfortunate enough to arrive. Thus, having wasted my first morning in bed, my first afternoon was spent in a similarly restful fashion, strolling the streets to get my bearings and having regular coffee and meal breaks. I had an early night determined to make the next day more productive.

It duly was. In spite of sleeping in too late I was on a minibus for the hour-long journey to Alta Gracia by midday, where I teamed up with a Korean and an Englishman to make the pilgrimage to the museum that now marks one of the early homes of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, of course an Argentine by birth and upbringing. Guevara moved to the property at the age of four and stayed well into his teenage years, his family having relocated to more hospitable climes as a result of his asthma. As a result of his later revolutionary activities, “Che´s house” began to garner attention and was thus purchased by the Argentinian government and opened as a museum.

The museum itself housed numerous photos and letters relevant to Guevara, along with a map detailing his extensive travels across South America and an old motorcycle that rather dubiously claimed to be the vehicle that young Guevara used to complete the journey that would later be immortalised in The Motorcycle Diaries. Of more current interest were pictures of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro on a recent joint-visit to the museum. Having completed our tour, we moved on to view an old Jesuit mission nearby, an experience by no means as interesting, before catching the return bus to Cordoba. That night, along with a Brit, a Kiwi and an Irishman, I sampled the lively delights of Cordoba´s club scene.

Back in Cordoba the next day, I visited Museo de la Memoria. The museum was dedicated to the victims of the 1976-83 ´Dirty War´, in which up to 30,000 proved or alleged leftists and trade unionists were killed or disappeared by the military dictatorship of Jorge Rafael Videla. Though my lack of Spanish did not aid understanding, it did not take linguistic skills to gauge the levels of violence that had been used to consolidate the army´s power. That some of the torture had taken place within the very walls that now house the museum added to the sense of horror. This period remains important in Argentinian politics, with political debate over amnesties for military officers continuing and Videla remaining at large.

After this, all that remained to do was kill time at the hostel and grab a pizza before arriving nice and early for my overnight bus to Buenos Aires, eager to see if Cordoba was my kind of city or whether Argentina´s capital had brighter things to offer.


Posted in: Experience, Travel