Cordoba is the capital of the Fernet, for being the city of the world that most drinks it and that most knows about it. And it is logical because, for Cordoba, this particular drink is more than an alcoholic drink made of herbs. It is “The Drink” (el trago) combined with cola, a symbol of friends gathering, it is the myth.
Being or feeling from Cordoba includes matters such as friendship, sociability and a lot of guile. In this, traditions and customs take us to ensure that, in the practice of Cordoba lifestyle, the Fernet is the perfect excuse to carry it out, if we want to be or feel like locals.
Cordoba, with its universities, lodges hundreds of students from all latitudes who get together like an ant’s nest, in the traditional Nueva Cordoba neighborhood. At any time of the day and night, they group together for different reasons: for studying, for having fun or simply for the ritual of the meeting and the friendship. They fill bars, discos, pubs and restaurants, not only of youth but also of good energy with the ever-present member for this classical local postcard: The Fernet.
Reasserting this historical tradition, the Cordoba lifestyle has incorporated in its ritual a typical local mark: Fetnet 1882, elaborated on the Fernet land by an Italian family that set up their drinks factory in Cordoba in the year 1882, and together with it a dream that the local people of today are achieving: to expand the Fernet, cola, ice, and friends ritual to the whole world.
Story tells that BAMBA was born as a consequence of the romance between a Spanish man, brother of governor Juan de Allende, and an Indian girl. The child’s origin was hidden and Juan adopted him as a servant to look after his little daughter Maria Magdalena. A party changed the destiny and the drama started when a noblemas declared his love to Maria Magdalena, while Bamba, in a hidden place, was listening to the lie since he knew very well that the “fiancé” had and affair with a widow. Ready to defend the person he loved in silence, Bamba flew into rage, killed the treacherous man and fled to the South. One stormy night , he went back for his beloved one, who didn’t show any resistance. Far away, in the mountain they loved each other together with their four children who made their parents’lives very happy: Magin, Crespin, Delfin and a blind child; until one day the three brothers went to the scrubland for the liriolay flower, effective to recover the child’s blindness, but they never went back. Bamba and Maria Magdalena kept searching for food to be able to survive when in one of those attempts he died accidentally. Mara, inconsolably, returned to her cave where she found her blind child dead. Furious and discovered y the police, she went back home, she shut herself in a convent where she died after a terrifying scream during a religious service…”
This legend, the most popular in Cordoba, was given expression in a poem by Ataliva Herrera and perpetuated in an impressive monument made by sculptor Miguel P. Borgarello. Located in Estancia Vieja it covers a surface of 209 metres, made of stone and cement; it is 17 metres high. On the different faces it represents the moment in which Bamba kidnapped Maria Magdalena, she with her four children and a condor dominating from the heights. About the monument, Dr. Gilberto Molina calims: “It is absolutely consecrated and, undoubtedly, the most meaningful sculptural monument in America’s art”.
“The Federal Square” was built on the banks of the lake, inaugurated in the year 2000 in remembrance of the 170th anniversary of San Roque battle which took place on the same site. There, the General. Juan Bautista Bustos troops clashed with General. Jose Maria Paz troops.
The whole is made of semicircular iron structure that works as a balcony two viewpoints a set of 23 flags that represent every Argentinean Province which has a native earth, and a flagpole to raise the enormous Argentinean flag. This wide space, together with the artisans that have their stands in the area, has become an unavoidable stop for those who go along the side of the lake.
Continuity is a very important thing in anybody’s life. Even though surprises are great it is also nice to know that some things in life are stable and will not change. Unfortunately children living in orphanages do not get to feel the reassurance that most people do about having continuity present in their lives. There is always something changing for them whether it is the people that work at the orphanage, the child at the orphanage, the volunteers spending time with them, or even whether they will be there for much longer or will be sent to live somewhere else. Continuity benefits many people but especially children placed in orphanage and care situations. It is important to the kids and if continuity is not maintained it can be difficult for not only the children but the volunteers as well.
A sense of continuity is important to a person so they can feel like their life is not just one big roller coaster of surprises. It is nice to know that even if some parts of your life are spiraling out of your control, others will always be there so that you do not feel overwhelmed. Children at orphanages need to feel that there is some continuity. They have already had so much happen in their lives and have gone through so much that they at least deserve that. This way they can feel like they at least have some control over their lives and are not just being pulled along in different directions.
It is difficult to maintain continuity in a care setting for many reasons. One of the main reasons is that the kids are always changing. Whether it is from the children running away, being taken back to their parents, or because they switched orphanages, the faces are always new. One day a child can arrive, and the next he will not be there. This is difficult not only for the child that is no longer at the institute, but also for the ones that are left behind because they are left wondering where that child went, what happened to him, and is that going to happen to them? It is also difficult because if a child is sent around from place to place they never get to feel a sense of belonging.
Another reason it is difficult to maintain continuity is because the volunteers are always changing. Volunteers can stay for lengths of time ranging from two weeks up to several months. During that time the children can develop a bond with the volunteer and it will become difficult when it is time for them to leave. It is hard to maintain continuity with the volunteers because they are all so different. Each person has their own unique personality so the children may really like one volunteer and enjoy the activities that they plan, but may dislike the next and not have a bond with them at all. This can also feel difficult to the volunteer as they may feel inferior to someone that they may have never met before. You never know how a child is going to react to a volunteer and how a volunteer is going to react with a child.
Continuity is never a sure thing, but there are ways in which to attempt to make it happen. One way that Projects Abroad has is by insuring that each placement has a journal that the volunteers write in and is then passed onto the next volunteer so that they can read it and gain insight into the children and the placement. Another way that continuity may be attempted is by giving contact information of past volunteers that have been at that placement before the new volunteer comes. This way if the journal is misplaced they can still gain that knowledge and will be able to gather ideas before they arrive at their placement.
Living in an orphanage is hard enough, but there are ways to make it easier. Trying to ensure that the children feel a sense of continuity is a way in which we can try to help these children with their lives so that they can feel a sense of belonging and not like they are just living day to day.
Córdoba 17.01. - 11.03.2011
Vor drei Jahren fing ich an, Spanisch zu lernen. Schon in jungen Jahren wollte ich das, doch habe ich es immer wieder verschoben. Meine Familie und Arbeit als Architektin ließen nicht all zu viel Freizeit übrig. Mit dem Lernen der Sprache erwachte auch das Interesse für die spanische und lateinamerikanische Kultur. Als ich beschloss meine Stelle zu wechseln, ergab sich die Gelegenheit, diesen Wechsel mit einem Break zu verbinden. 3 Monate Auszeit, Zeit nur für mich allein. Ich wollte Südamerika kennenlernen, doch konnte ich mir nicht vorstellen 3 Monate „nur“ zu reisen. Ich wollte auch ein Stück Alltag erleben in einem mir fremden Kontext. Bei meiner Suche fand ich viele Organisationen, die Freiwilligendienste anbieten, doch war Projects Abroad eine der wenigen ohne Altersbeschränkung. Und da ich 53 Jahre alt bin, war das eine nicht unwichtige Bedingung. Im September 2010 meldete ich mich bei Projects Abroad an und entschied mich für Argentinien, es schien mir das unserer Kultur verwandteste Land und ich wünschte mir einen sanften Einstieg auf dem fernen Kontinent.
Am 03. Januar flog ich nach Santiago de Chile und hatte zwei Wochen Zeit, von dort nach Córdoba zu reisen. Ich stieg in den colectivo, einen argentinischen Kleinbus und ließ mich in den Süden schaukeln, nach Pucón, Villarica, dann durch die Araucarien-Wälder. An der Grenze zu Argentinien angekommen fragte mich der Zöllner nach eingehendem Studium meines Passes: „¿De dónde sos vos?“
Meine Reise führte mich weiter durch die Unendlichkeit Argentiniens und an einem frühen Morgen kam ich in Córdoba an. Ich wurde von einem jungen Mann abgeholt und zu meiner „Familie“ gebracht. Am ersten und zweiten Tag begleiteten uns, die neu Angekommenen, die Leute von Projects Abroad, halfen uns bei den Basics wie Telefon- und Buskarten kaufen und stellten uns unsere Arbeit vor.
Ich arbeitete in der Casa Ronald McDonald, einer Institution, die Familien mit kranken Kindern beherbergt. Wir, eine junge Frau aus Holland und ich, halfen wo es nötig war: aufräumen, kontrollieren, mit den Kindern spielen, mit den Eltern plaudern, Unkraut jäten... Wir arbeiteten nachmittags, von 14 bis 18 Uhr. Das war gut, da wir so während der größten Hitze im Schatten waren.
Mit meiner Familie hatte ich großes Glück. Patricia wurde mir eine wunderbare Gesprächspartnerin: sie, die ihr Land so gern hat, schenkte mir einen Einblick in die Geschichte und die Mentalität der Menschen in Argentinien und in Córdoba. Meine Wochenenden verbrachte ich vor allem „stadtwandernd“. Das mache ich unendlich gern, die Straßen einer Stadt sind für mich das schönste Museum der Welt.
In den Wochen in Córdoba war ich nicht nur ein Zaungast, dem es erlaubt ist, die unterschiedlichen Lebensweisen meiner Mitmenschen kennenzulernen. Im nahen Sein mit den Menschen, im Familienleben, durfte ich mich einlassen, war es mir auch erlaubt, mitzufühlen, etwas Preis zu geben und mich zu öffnen für das Andere, das Fremde. Es war eine reiche Zeit, für die Ohren, die Augen und das Herz (auch ohne Gaucho am Arm). Schwer beeindruckt hat mich die Arbeit der jungen Mitarbeiter von Projects Abroad in Córdoba. Toll, wie sie, Ariel, Vanessa, Sofía, Ramón und Agustín das Büro in Córdoba so professionell, engagiert und umsichtig leiten: chapeau!!!
Mit all den schönen Erfahrungen in Córdoba im Gepäck bin ich danach noch 3 Wochen durch Argentinien, Uruguay und Paraguay gereist und Anfang April wieder sooo gern heimgekommen, zu meiner Familie, meiner Katze und meinen Freunden. Das Heimweh, das mich auch begleitete, dieses zärtlich schöne Gefühl, ist jetzt nicht mehr da. Dafür bleiben mir nun die kostbaren Erinnerungen an die Menschen und Landschaften auf der anderen Seite des großen Wassers.
So where do I start? Leading up to my arrival in Argentina the only real expectations that I had of my trip were really to just throw myself into the deep end and experience a completely different culture and lifestyle to what I was accustomed to back home; and I think it’s fair to say that this goal was not only reached but exceeded. The three months of my life that I spent living and working in Cordoba was an absolute rollercoaster of fun, travel and personal development. As well as my placement working at the Ricardo Nasif School, I was also able to do loads of travel and see plenty of the incredible sights that Argentina has to offer, improve my (still fairly terrible) Spanish, and form countless lasting friendships with people from all around the globe.
However, with my time in Argentina ending all too soon a fortnight ago, I am now faced with the stark realisation that I am back home in Adelaide having missed out on the fun of the Australian summer, and having completely drained my life savings. But do I regret it? The answer to that question is, unequivocally, no.
Being thrown in front of a class full of kids with little teaching experience and, at best, beginner level Spanish was fairly daunting to begin with. However, with time and a bit of help from my teaching mentors Aldana and Agustin teaching at Ricardo Nasif became a very rewarding job. Almost all of the kids knew absolutely no English at all when I started my placement in December, and it was actually incredibly gratifying (and hard) to walk away from my placement in March seeing the same kids speaking and understanding the basics of English.
After flying solo for the first couple of weeks of my placement, I was fortunate enough to be able to work with a number of other volunteers throughout my time at Ricardo Nasif, who also became close friends of mine. Lauren, Jo, Victoria and Jacqueline were all fantastic fun to work with, and made teaching and controlling the kids a lot easier as the class size began to grow. It was particularly helpful having others to bounce ideas off and help share the load of lesson planning and coming up with games and activities for the kids to keep the lessons interesting.
That’s not to say my placement was all plain sailing by any stretch of the imagination. While we had the expected odd behavioural problem with the kids, it was the local population who provided the biggest obstacles to our teaching as the school was situated in a poorer area of Cordoba. Regularly we would have to sweep up glass on the floor from windows which had been smashed overnight. Also, one day, when we were having a break from teaching to feed the kids juice and cookies, someone decided to throw a fire cracker through one of the school windows which scared the absolute hell out of us! While we had a bit of a laugh once we worked out what had happened, events such as this were a bit disconcerting and from then on we made sure we locked the school doors while we were teaching.
Another fantastic aspect of my time in Argentina was the opportunities I had to travel outside my time working for Projects Abroad. Doing a three-month placement I was able to take a total of two weeks holiday, during which time I was lucky enough to be able to travel all across the country including places such as Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Salta, Mina Clavero, Alta Gracia, and Montevideo in Uruguay.
What probably struck me most about my travels around Argentina were the distinct differences in atmosphere and culture that every major city I visited had. Mendoza, which was my personal favourite of all travel destinations, is distinguished by its spectacular location being situated at the base of the Andes in the middle of Argentina’s primary wine region. It was quite surreal being able to do a bike tour around the wineries in the heat of a 35 degree day, and look up to see snow-capped mountains in the distance. However, if one city exemplifies Argentina’s rich and diverse mix of cosmopolitan culture it would be Buenos Aires, and it’s easy to see why this city is a favoured destination for tourists. I was fortunate enough to visit Buenos Aires three times in all, and visiting different “barrios” every time meant I was able to see a completely different side of the city every time I went there. There are also a number of really cool towns in Cordoba province outside of Cordoba city itself that are worth checking out as well. The weekend I had in Mina Clavero was also one of the more memorable times of my trip, and while Mina Clavero is a popular with Argentinean travellers there were literally no other foreigners there, which was great as it gave us a real taste of local culture. Also, Mina Clavero’s main attraction is a river which runs through the town centre, and seeing as I was missing the Australian beach it was great to be able to do some swimming.
However, what I will probably always treasure the most from my time in Argentina is the personal relationships with other volunteers I was able to build in such a short time, and the good times I was able to share with them. My lasting memories with these people include things such as drinking free tequila in our hostel in Mendoza, cramming nine of us into a three-person hotel room in Alta Gracia after everywhere else in town was booked out, diving off ten meter cliffs into the river in Mina Clavero, hanging out with riot police and seeing Charly Garcia perform a cover of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb at Cosquin Rock festival, getting caught trying to sneak into a Boca Juniors game in Buenos Aires with fake tickets, and my obsession with diving fully clothed into swimming pools across Cordoba at every possible opportunity with Victoria. While the work and travel was definitely an incredible aspect of my time in Argentina, it was the friends I was able to share these memories with that made this three of the best months of my life, and I really hope that I will always be able to stay in touch with these people in one way or another forever.
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