cama

I Slept There – A Photo Experiment

I had an idea before I left for a potential photo project that didn’t really pan out. I wanted to take a picture of where I woke up every day of the trip. I thought it could result in an amusing compilation to flip through, but I quickly realized two things: first, that remembering to take a picture and doing it well first thing in the morning is not a job made for me, a person who needs a mental pep talk to get out of bed before 10; second, that seeing feet and a dorm bed shot after shot would not be an interesting portrayal of my daily life, it would be flat out boring.

So I shifted gears and decided to just take pictures of some of the more interesting places I woke up. Now going back through what I have, most of these happen to be hammocks or transportation, with the occasional odd shot of a salt hotel, boat deck, or bamboo hut. I admit, it wasn’t as fully fleshed out as the Included Food project was, but it was just a secondary fun experiment so I’m posting it anyway. I think the abundance of hammocks in South America versus huts in Asia still accurately captures a part of my experience. Also of note are the hostel pods instead of plain bunk beds – they created at least a semblance of a private space, which was welcomed after so many 10 or more bed dorm rooms. Maybe this is why the capsule hotel in Tokyo felt so normal to me – in fact I enjoyed the tiny solo room – instead of claustrophobic like other people find them who haven’t spent almost a year in dorms. It is amazing the things you get used to being on the road for so long.

Here are some of the places I called “my bed” for at least a night.

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Córdoba, or the Place I Stopped in Between Mendoza and Buenos Aires

Córdoba is a hit or miss city. For me, it was a miss. For lots of other people, it’s one of their favorites. The city itself isn’t all that bad, it just doesn’t have a lot to offer, so I think it depends more on how you’re experiencing it than the city itself.

I had two days and one night in Córdoba. It’s a small city but nice for pedestrians. I mainly just wandered around, stopping at a few cultural sites; I’d say my highlights were the Paseo del Bueno Pastor cultural center and the Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón. The Paseo was a good free option to get my art fix. It is a small exhibition hall with local contemporary art. I liked the photography exhibit that was on display; it was from a music festival that had been held in Córdoba, and the artist sometimes fused two shots together into one, creating some intriguing images. The Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón is one of the more unique churches I’ve ever been in. It is colorful but the colors are muted, almost like they’re under a sepia filter. It was possible to ascend a staircase by the altar and see the naive and aisles from above. This is a perspective I’ve never gotten before and I found it fascinating.

I think what I enjoyed most though was my time in parks. First a small park, Paseo del Bicentenario, near the modern art museum had a public art installation commemorating the bicentennial of Córdoba, with rings of varying sizes and colors for each year. Of course I had to take a picture with the 1987 ring. From here it was an easy walk to the main big park in Córdoba, Parque Sarmiento. It was a sunny day so I sat by the lake for a while reading up on Buenos Aires, then moseyed around, taking a break to swing on a swing set (because as an adult how often do you just play on a swing set for a bit?), then read my book for a while near a fountain. It was quite lovely really.

Outside of these highlights, I just walked around a lot, had lunch outside (where I reflected on my time in South America), and wrote a handful of blog posts on my hostel roof. What I didn’t experience was the apparently awesome nightlife of this university town. My hostel was pretty quiet the one night I was there, and after the abundance of wine in Mendoza and the upcoming insanity of Buenos Aires nightlife I wasn’t exactly in a rush to find something to do.

In all honesty, my “miss” rating of Córdoba can be attributed to unfair timing. I’d been jumping around so much since Rio that I was just anxious to get to Buenos Aires and stay put for two weeks. Unfortunately this made Córdoba more of an obstacle than an enjoyable stop. But looking back at my visit there, it wasn’t all bad. It was a calm midpoint that broke up two overnight bus rides, and in that way it served its purpose for me.

Leaving Córdoba I took my last overnight bus. I finally treated myself and sprung for cama, meaning larger seats with more leg room and recline (and again in the front row of the top). I settled into my big seat, excited to finally experience the luxury of cama. It was one of the worst rides, I was so disappointed. I could barely sleep, it was freezing, there was a weird humming noise, and even though the seat next to me was empty I couldn’t move the arm rests so laying across both like I had the previous ride wasn’t possible. I suppose you could say it was fitting that my last night bus was not great, but at least I could say that I was done with overnight bus rides in South America.