Monday, November 26, 2012

Cordoba Argentina Mission

 My name is Brian, and I served in the MAC (Mision Argentina Cordoba). It was a great place that I loved to serve in. Argentina is a 3rd world country, so keep that in mind when I say this, but Cordoba, La Rioja and Catamarca (the 3 provinces in the mission when I was there) were pretty well to do as Argentina goes. They aren't very American in Argentina, so there aren't a lot of companies that you will see that you will be familiar with, but there are a few.

In several of my areas there was a Wal-Mart near enough to my area that we could go shop there on preparation day and get the occasional jar of peanut butter, or chips and salsa. 

If you didn't guess it from that last statement the folks in Cordoba aren't much for spicy food, so if you are headed down there expecting mexican type food, prepare to be surprised. The Argentine palate is fairly bland. But the foods they eat there are tasty, and most of them won't be big culture shocks for you. They eat lots of pasta, mashed potatoes and other simple solid foods like that. Empanadas were my favorite. They are basically a turnover with tasty fillings. They have a unique kind in Cordoba called Arabes that are delicious.  There is also my second favorite, milanesa, which is similar to a chicken fried steak, but way more delicious.

 Here is a look at a farily typical street on the outskits of Cordoba capital. This was my first area, and it was very poor. As you can see it's dirt roads, and small, humble brick houses. They do have electricity anywhere you go, which is nice, but in the more ghetto areas such as this one most of the electicy is being stolen.

 You'll see loose wires just randomly hanging off of the main powerlines. After being in the ghetto's long enough you start to wonder how anyone makes money off of electricy in Cordoba. You can see here a car in a driveway. They do have lots of cars in Cordoba, although many of the people that own them in areas like this are taxi drivers or Remis drivers. (A Remis is a kind of taxi, but you are supposed to call ahead, and not flag them down.)

You will have indoor plumbing everywhere you go, but usually you won't have access to a washer and dryer. In my first area I had to wash all my clothes in a basin in the yard. Occasionally there are members who are willing to do your wash for a small fee, and that's nice, but otherwise you mostly end up washing by hand.

Here are a couple of pictures of a more well to do neighborhood that I served in. The way it tends to work is that an area of the city is "settled" by people who just build slums there. Houses that are shoddily built, dirt roads, and only stolen electricity. The people who started out living there slowly improve their houses, add finer touches, and
 over the course of years the slum will get   
 nicer and nicer until the city officially recognizes it and comes in and gives them
proper roads etc...

This neighborhood had probably emerged from being a slum 5-10 years before I served there. You can see the houses are nicer, and there are even road signs and a couple of two story houses. This area was nice because it was safe, had a nice church building and a decent sized ward. But there was an area about 2 miles that was part of this area that had not "emerged" yet. It was still a dangerous slum.

Here you can see a picture from the back door of my apartment (pension) in this area. As you can see, and might have seen in the other pictures, there are odd tanks on top of the houses. These are water tanks. They store water for drinking, bathing etc...theoretically the water that comes out should be fine, but the problem is, especially in poorer areas, they often don't have tops on them. You don't want to think about what might be in
there. So it's best not to drink the water. On the plus side all of your apartments will have filters, so you can drink and use the water there just fine.

You  may have heard that Argentina is very European. There are a lot of very European things that you will see. This for instance is a little plaza in La Rioja. You will also see cathedrals and big churches all over the place. There is also the central "Plaza de San Martin" which is the biggest shopping area/tourist attraction in the capital city of Cordoba. It is a really fun place that is very European in its feel, and there is a lot of awesome old architecture there that is totally worth checking out on a p-day.

There is so much more to say, but I am sure it will come in future posts, so I will finish for now. Cordoba is a great place with wonderful people. Even the people who don't want to talk to you tend to be a lot nicer than Americans would be in the same situation. Remember that God loves each of them as you serve them. Stay upbeat, and appreciate the beauties that Argentina has to offer while you are there. I know that this is a true work and that God will bless you as you give your whole self to his service. If you wish to as me any questions about Argentina or missionary work please feel free to leave a comment on this post with your question and I will get back to you.

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