Passport Drama in Cordoba, Argentina

1 Jun

Ever lost your passport while travelling? You reach into the pocket of the bag you always keep your passport in and it’s not there. Your stomach sinks… Yep, it happened to me when I arrived in Cordoba, Argentina, as I was checking into our hotel.

In my defence we had a messy transfer from Mendoza. Somehow the scheduled Aerolineas flight time was bumped forward 45 minutes without warning. When we arrived with our boarding passes to drop the luggage at an eerily empty counter and said breezily ‘Cordoba por favor’ there was a rapid and agitated response. Staff whisked us straight onto the plane and we very much doubted our suitcases would be flying with us.

I was so preoccupied congratulating ourselves for making the flight I forgot all about my passport.

Until hotel check-in….

Fortunately our receptionist at the King David Flat Hotel was the calm, capable Barbara. She first phoned and checked my passport was not with Mendoza Airport security. Nope, no passport found.

She then called Aerolineas Cordoba airport and yes, the passport had been found in the plane and was being held for collection. I hugged Barbara hard!

Leaving Stuart to settle into the apartment I jumped into a taxi and sped back to the airport.

It was the most entertaining taxi ride I’ve had in a long time. The talkative driver, Enrique, understood zero English so I had to use all the Spanish at my disposal to be half intelligible. Most of the conversation focussed on (surprise…surprise…) the upcoming World Cup Football but we also ranged across Argentinian politics, the endemic culture of corruption and the dire state of the Argentinian economy. An (unofficial) 28 per cent inflation rate speaks volumes for what regular folk have to deal with daily.

At the airport I was speedily reunited with my passport and breathed a huge sigh of relief. Thank you Aerolineas and Barbara! We have another week of travel to go and I dreaded the administrivia of securing a replacement passport. The day they introduce an identity chip under the skin I will be first in line.

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Cecilia left and Barbara right

Cordoba is the second most populous city in Argentina behind Buenos Aires. After the quiet of the countryside the traffic, the deafening street demonstrations (complete with what sounded like gunfire), and the general hustle and bustle of a major metropolis took a little getting used to.

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29 May is the anniversary of a major strike in 1969 so there were brass bands, parades and lots of flag waving. Argentinians love displaying their flag more than any other country I have been to.

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We walked extensively around downtown. It’s a windy city in late May. People appear to put on their winter clothes regardless of what the weather is actually like. It was a sunny 24 degrees celsius and people were wearing boots, scarves and heavy jackets.

Latin American women tend to wear paint on pants, yes leggings ARE pants here, but Argentinians definitely favour the tightest and most distressed denim paired with platform shoes.

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Cordobans are a rather heterogenous mob, except for few Asian and no black faces. The colouring and physical characteristics are varied with lots of blondes but just as many faces reminded me of Andalusian gitanos.

Two or three pedestrian streets and Plaza San Martin are picturesque but the rest are unremarkable.

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There was a moment of light relief when we stumbled into a posh polo clothing and saddlery store. The attendant got quite excited at the sight of us. I don’t think she’d had a customer all day. I didn’t want to explain to her that I’m allergic to horses so we just backed out mumbling apologies.

The 16th century Cathedral is notable for its large amount of gold leaf and brightly coloured frescoes and paintings, as well as a rather lovely mosaic floor.

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An elderly priest was conducting the confession of a young, kneeling woman. His confessional door was open and he was speaking in a rather loud voice. Not sure I would have been happy about that.

We also stumbled into two downtown university campuses (Catholic and Jesuit) which were impressive but we couldn’t find much else of interest.

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The very clean single storey Mercado Norte is similar to any one of a hundred European markets except that they don’t sell fish. As you would imagine the emphasis is on beef but every type of animal seemed to be on sale.

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Across the street the bulk dried cereals, beans and legumes store was doing brisk trade. Coeliac problems must be common as there was an extensive section dedicated to gluten-free foods.

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Mercado Norte’s cafes and restaurants are worth trying. We had a healthy salad lunch (a man can only eat so much beef) watching live coverage of the French Open Tennis Championship.

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20140601-183208-66728810.jpgOverall Cordoba was underwhelming. We’re relieved to be moving on to Buenos Aires to sample Porteño life.

P.S. Enrique’s tip for the Cup winner? Brazil, because he says they’re the only team able to handle the crowd pressure. You read it here first folks!

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Stu’s new favourite beer.

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Small denomination Argentinian peso notes often look like they’ve lived a hard life. What stories they could tell!

2 Responses to “Passport Drama in Cordoba, Argentina”

  1. Michelle Noble June 2, 2014 at 8:01 am #

    Only one comment!!! WHAT IS STUART WEARING??????? M.xx

    • Sharon Tickle June 2, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

      You mean his bright floral shirt? He inherited it from Cam. We love it! Sxx

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