Maggie, a friend and mine and fellow Maryland native, made the decision in about 43 minutes to travel alone to Cordoba, Argentina for 5 weeks. She joined a Volunteer Care Project, a program by Projects Abroad that empowered her to plan lessons and activities at a care facility in a very under-developed area. Most people would call this area "the slums". In chatting with Maggie about her adventure, the most amazing part of her experience was traveling to all of the nearby sights on the weekends.
"Argentina is a huge country with tons of un-populated land, mountains, rivers, wild cattle, vineyards, and WINE!"
During the week, Maggie stayed with a host family with other volunteers from various projects. She says her host mother was a nut, always walking around in barely anything and forcing her cuisine down their throats. Hilarious! That sounds like a story in itself! On the weekends, the volunteers would stay in hostels or sleep on over-night bus trips to and from their destinations.
The food in Cordoba had very little flavor and Maggie was not too impressed with most of the local food. Argentinian cuisine however, is typically defined by their full-flavored meats and Maggie fully agreed with this. I laughed when she said her favorite thing she ate during her trip was llama because she later sent me this picture and said she fell in love with this cute little baby llama. Look at his smile!
During their stay in Cordoba, Maggie and the other volunteers caught wind of a secret off-the-grid river beach not too far away called "Playa de las Hippies" or "Hippie Beach". They packed some beers and snacks and took a 2 hour bus ride from Cordoba to a small village. Once in the village the volunteers asked around for directions and got some vague instructions on how to find the magical beach. After two hours of hiking up and down rocky mountains and wading through streams they finally found the breathtaking beach, totally worth the winding hike.
"The fashion down there was hilarious." Maggie says. The big item that every girl had were platform sneakers a la Spice Girls, circa 1992. Which are in right now but, you have to know how to wear them! The shops in the city had cute summer dresses and tank tops but nothing like shopping at the local Artisan Market on Sunday nights. At the market you can buy hand made jewelry, paintings, intense, or even a puppy if you wanted!
Maggie's biggest tip was to learn basic Spanish prior to traveling to Cordoba. This city isn't a typical travel destination so the locals are not very used to foreigners and may not understand English. Another insight is to prepare yourself for a lot of "where are you from" or "she doesn't belong here" stares.