We pull into the Cordoba bus station at 9.30am, rather than the schedule 8am. Though this is not surprising given the number of almost hourly stops last night! By the time I woke up at 1am, we'd already made at least two stops and went on to make another two, at 2am and 3am. So the sleeping pill I took only worked for around 3 hours! From 1am to 4am I sat there, wide awake, wanting to be anywhere else but on a bus. At every stop in the next town's bus terminal, at 1am, 2am, 3am, the lights come on. After an hour or so of wishing I could get back to sleep, I give in and pull out my book and IPod.
At the Cordoba bus station we investigate times to Mendoza at the Andesmar office, but there's no way we are going with Flecha again, who has itinerary stops until 3am in the morning!? We get a taxi to our hostel for 10 pesos. Our room is ready and we are shown around the TV lounge, computer lounge, dining and kitchen rooms and where all the toilets and showers are. The staff are very welcoming and invite us to make use of the rooms and facilities until our dorm room is ready. Baluch Backpackers - highly recommend it!
We chill at the hostel, and I work on my CV and a cover letter for an Intermediate Planner position advertised at RMG in Christchurch. We find a supermarket and also explore the meat market, with all its steaks and milenesa, along with tripe and tounges and other oddities that I'll never be hungry enough to eat! We have a late lunch, siesta and then cook some potatoes, steak and a salad for dinner. After dinner I find myself vomiting in the dorm rubbish bin, so I head straight to bed. Luckily we have our four bed dorm to ourselves.
The following morning I'm right as rain and breakfast at our hostel is pretty alright, mainly sweet pastries. We walk through town to the minibus terminal and get a 7 peso bus ticket out to Alta Gracia, 35km out of town.
Arriving into Alta Gracia we are dropped at the bus station's office and then are at a loss as to where Che's house is. The pharmiscist in the pharmacy next door lends us a town map he has on his counter, marking how to get to Che's house.
It's only a short walk and the weather is beautiful. The museum is very cheap and we are impressed to find that there is a folder full of English translations of the photo captions and information in each room of the house. The museum is well done and we learn alot about a person who has really just been a name to us before.
We catch a minibus back to Cordoba and get our bus tickets to Mendoza at the bus station. It's a bit strange, we buy the tickets from the Andesmar office, but they tell us that our bus will actually be a different bus, perhaps a Mercobus. For semi cama seats we cough up145 pesos.
We have a late lunch at McDonalds after strolling back through the central city streets. First McDonalds since Quito! And we're only having it because its mid afternoon, we are starving and stumble across it! Bit of a cop out. Ryan can't eat his burger, and though it pains him to do so, he gives his food to me. He's been having trouble eating since he took his malaria pill in Cafayate and went to sleep after taking it. He's got an almost constant burning sensation in his throat when he eats, drinks, burps or swallows. He decides to head back to the hostel, but almost faints on his way out, grabbing onto a statue of Ronald to steady himself before making his way back to where I'm still sitting. Once he's feeling better we head back to the hostel together, slowly.
We Google his problem and malaria tablets and find that he has probably burned an ulcer into his oesophagus by lying down after taking his pill and that the symptoms and difficulty eating could last for a week or more.
Dinner is pasta in a white cheese sauce, essentially macaroni and cheese, the a****** of the pasta world, Ryan contends. But its at the easy end of the swollowing scale. Desert is a massive merainge we picked up on our walk through town. After dinner Ryan does an empanada class for 15 pesos at the hostel, learning how to make them and eating the products. His inability is to eat is my good fortune, so I get to tuck into the two empanadas he whips up.
We go to bed late; still with the dorm to ourselves.
We sleep in and then dash for a shower when one comes free (two bathrooms with one separate single loo and one separate single shower is insufficient for the number of dorm beds at Baluch Backpackers, but that's our only gripe).
We sort out our gear and pack up. I've had an email from my old manager to say there is no work at HG, and that the economy is still in very slow recovery mode back home. Also, following the Christchurch earthquake, the government has passed legislation for earthquake rebuilding to take place without red tape like resource consents needed in order not to hold up the rebuilding works. So Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri don't require any consents until April 2012. Or that seems to be the gist of it from afar. Uhoh.
We head out to see the town, including the church in the main plaza, the book fair thats on, and a church further south from the main plaza, with a nice water feature in front.
We head back through town to the main plaza and stop for icecream for lunch as Ryan doesn't think he'd be able to eat anything else. He puts away 250gm of icecream for 6 pesos, which is a ridiculous amount! I get two massive scoops on a waffle cone for 4 pesos. It's value for money, Doug would be proud.
We chill at the hostel for the remainder of the afternoon, killing time until our night bus leaves at 10.30pm. At the bus terminal we find out our bus will be Mercobus. Once onboard we are given a small snack box, 4 granola biscuits, crackers and rocklets (just like pebbles, yum!) Then we sit back to see what this bus ride will bring...