Monday, October 04, 2010

Che's childhood home in Cordoba

On our first full day in Cordoba we went on a trip with Joel, Marcela, Horacio, and Gustavo to a town called Alta Gracia, about 35 kilometers outside of Cordoba. Joel and Marcela had arranged for a mini van and driver for the day and we set off at 10.30 and got back around 7pm. We visited two places and had a memorable meal in a restaurant in the mid afternoon, before visiting the childhood home of Che Guevara. Che's family moved there on account of the very dry climate which they thought would be good for his asthma. The home was one that had originally been built as a weekend getaway home for executive employees of the railway system. The Argentine railway system had been developed and was run by British companies from the early 20th century. Not surprisingly, the homes built for the use of their employees were very British looking. We have seen thousands of such homes in Australia and New Zealand and, of course, in Britain. Now a small but popular museum, the house proved to be a most enjoyable visit. There was an interesting short video presentation featuring childhood friends of Che. It was nice to get a sense of him as a child growing up, aside from the heavy ideological emphasis that usually accompanies museums in his memory. Apart from the room dedicated to the visit by Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez in 2006, and the souvenir shop area, the rest of the house was full of quotidian things -- notably the power assisted bicycle that Che rode through 7 or 8 Argentine provinces, and the 1936 Norton 500 cc twin motorbike that featured in the film of the Motorcycle Diaries. It was a couple of hours well spent.

Downtown Cordoba

On our first evening in Cordoba, Argentina, we took a walk with Joel and Marcela around the downtown blocks near the hotel. Near the plaza was a plaque in the form of a thumb print of names of people who had been "disappeared" during the years of military rule. We took photos of the restored cathedral, of the university, and small parks and streets and buildings as we walked down to a modern art museum. The light was not the best, but the pix are indicative.