After I dropped my bags and decided what could use a visit at the laundromat, I stopped at the front desk and asked them about a lavanderia (laundromat) since I wasn’t about to pay hotel prices. They offered to take my things there. I told them I was happy to take the walk if they told me where I needed to go. they wouldn’t hear of it and promised to return everything to me by the morning.
This timing was important since I would be leaving Cordoba the next afternoon and would need my clothes.
Sidebar: I would be heading to Mendoza. No plans were made but I figured I would have the evening to sort that out.
Now was the time to take in my amazing (and luxurious) surroundings, and then explore Cordoba.
My day would consist of shopping, sightseeing and swimming! Because the shops would close in the early afternoon and remain closed for the rest of the weekend, I decided to hold off on my pool time until after shopping and sightseeing!
First up, shopping!
I took my directions and headed to the main shopping street. It wasn’t a far walk and I knew when I had arrived. It seemed like everyone (and their mother, literally) was outside on the main shopping street.
I had a mission. I needed to buy a nice outfit. The word nice was very flexible at this point, but I wanted to purchase a skirt that would ‘dress me up’ a little bit. Fear not, my shoes were hiking shoes, or flip-flops so fancy I was not looking for. Since it was Saturday, I had only a few hours before the shops closed for the rest of the weekend.
I knew I was looking for a vestir (dress) or falda (skirt).
I popped in and out of a few shops. I was always asked what I was looking for and I’d be shown to a rack and left alone. In one shop, the owner asked and I replied. As it had happened in other shops, she walked away and I figured that was that.
Just a few seconds later, she brought (or maybe dragged) her daughter (probably 12 or 13 years old) over and encouraged her to speak to me. At first the young girl was shy and probably didn’t understand what her mom was doing. Neither did I.
To humor the mom, and what I realized were her friends who either worked at the shop, or were hanging out, I tried to engage the girl in conversation — in Spanish. Once she realized my native language was English, she couldn’t stop talking. She seemed to want to practice her English and I was more than happy to oblige. It seemed like everyone knew everyone and I felt like we were being watched by half the store.
Knowing that I unintentionally isolated myself in a hotel instead of a hostel, I was likely to be on my own for the evening. I welcomed the conversation, and the shopping help.
After she asked what I was looking for, her first question was: Why didn’t you pack a skirt?
I then had to explain that I was backpacking. The only problem was, I didn’t know the word for backpack and she didn’t know what backpack was.
So came in, the always fun and amusing, charades. I made the motion of putting a backpack on and looking lost. She quickly got it.
There, in that shop, was the first time I heard the word that described me — mochilera. A backpacker.
I taught my new friend a new word, backpack, and she taught me my new word, mochilera.
We pulled a few things off the racks and she stood outside the dressing room — which was a curtain in the middle of the store. It seemed that business was at a standstill because they wanted us to continue our conversation. Each time I pulled the curtain, someone had an opinion. It was like being a contestant on a reality show. Since our vocabulary was limited it was either a smile and a head nod, or a shake of the head which meant no. My new teenager friend was translating for me the other side comments but I got the gist and divided the clothes into maybe or no racks.
It came down to two skirts, and we, or maybe the rest of the store, decided on a pretty purple and black skirt. I bought it and said goodbye and thank you to (essentially) half the shop. I felt like a local walking down the main street with my purchase. Though it seemed on that Saturday everyone had bags and bags of things!
As I was warned at the hotel, the shops began to shut down and roll down their gates minutes before I was warned they would. I saw the streets go from crowded to just a couple of stragglers, including me. See this picture on the left? The gates came down before I left this little outdoor mall and I had to duck through that little hole before they closed them up.