It's a 2:00 AM pee in the bathroom of the nicest hostal I've stayed in when I notice something crawling on my back. I flick it into the sink and stare at it in denial. I return to my bed and dread pours over me as I see them all over the bed. F! I gather up my stuff and spend the rest of the night in the far corner of the room trying to sleep on the travertine floor while my brain spins incessantly. Bedbugs...
In the morning, I switch hostels, and spend the day awaiting the full fallout. My arm and back confirm by evening that no bullet was dodged. I get a bus to Cordoba the following day wearing what i think are bedbug clean clothes that are nonetheless in dire need of washing. I look and feel both disgusting and contaminated as I stare out the window into the depths of the pampa.
Being a chill tourist is impossible when your mind is continually scanning your body and your feet look like you have an infectious disease. I sit in Catedral de Córdoba at Plaza San Martin and meditate to try to relax after having dropped off my first batch of laundry, hoping the bedbug cloud will part and reveal the sun I know is somewhere above.
The wonderful stone buildings scattered through Cordoba take some of the edge off
and the quirky full scale descriptive geometry adds an interesting touch to the pedestrian streets throughout the historic section of the city.
I duck into The Museo Genaro Perez to spend time enjoying an interesting range of Cordoba's modernist works.
Cordoba's other main church is the Iglesia del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus with its intricate pilasters adorning the main entry portal.
The city is also full of a number of hardcore modernist walls of despair behind which Sarah Goldfarb types work to fit into their red dresses.
And, some newer bits. The Cultural Center Córdoba serves as a perfect full scale slide for the local kids.
A day trip takes me out to Alta Gracia to the house where Che Guevara grew up. Each room is outfitted with relics from his life including this gem from his 1949 solo bike trip through northern Argentina before he and Alberto Granada fired up La Poderosa II.
For me, there's more life breathing out of Cordoba than Mendoza and even though bedbugs take up a huge amount of mental energy, I enjoy a few days oscillating between cafe hours pouring through Adam Skolnick's new book on freediving One Breath and long aimless walks through the city while the colonel naps back in Mendoza.
I manage to escape the bulk of the "cloud" the day before I head over to relax with Monica/Brian and their friend Karina in swanky Punta del Este, Uruguay. Expecting a mellow surf town, Punta del Este is like being on a fancy vacation within a vacation.
If you're going to let the meat pendulum momentarily swing to the far opposite side, it's best to do it in Uruguay. Hugo and Victoria, whom I'd met previously in SF, start things off and fire up their parrilla for an awesome feast. We take it up a notch a few days later as we head to Montevideo to see Uruguay take on Peru in a qualifying match for 2018 World Cup Russia. Pre-game starts with sampling various cuts under Hugo's tutelage at Mercado del Puerto.
Built in the 1930 to host the first FIFA World Cup, Estadio Centenario is a place full of Uruguayan lore. Other than the addition of a "tiny-tron" and plastic seats, it looks like it hasn't changed a bit. It's a classic stadium that's all about the joys and sorrows this fan base has shared as a family. This ain't no white wine spritzer and garlic fries crowd. A trip highlight for sure.
We join up with more of Hugo's family and Federica shows off her Soy Celeste smile along with 60,000 Uruguayan fans as Uruguay notches a 1-0 victory.
A sunset surf the following night was a prefect way to work off the post game meat hangover. I rode the Johnny Rice a few times down in Santa Cruz when Monica was showing me the ropes and it was fun to hack into a few waves on it.
I feel extremely grateful to have spent as much time relaxing and laughing with the Uruguay gang and getting to bask in the culinary richness of Uruguay.