After a great rest of the week in Cordoba, including a choir rehearsal with everything from Bruckner to Faure to Handel's Hallelujah Chorus and a trip to the observatory in the nearby hills, we took the bus to Villa Mercedes in the province of San Luis to spend a day with the de Erausquin great-aunts, then took another bus to Mendoza. We were met by an old friend of Dad's, Sergio de la Torre, who drove us to the apartment Tio Gustavo had rented for us, gave us the keys and took us to have some dinner. The week was delightful. We spent one wonderful day up at Sergio's house in the mountains, riding horseback with his sons and finishing up with an asado; drove out into the wine country to visit the Salentein vineyards another day, pausing on the way to see the great statue of Christ the King that towers over the Uco Valley; wandered the city to see the old churches and the big park that fills a good section of the city; and visited with our second cousins on Dad's side, as well as our great-aunt. Friday being the feast of Santiago, patron of Mendoza, we went out on the Peatonal Sarmiento (a street blocked to cars), to watch the traditional dances performed on the big stage.
Sadly, we missed Mass on Sunday because our overnight bus didn't get into Salta until two in the afternoon; but besides this, it was a good day. Tio Juancho, Mami's brother, picked us up and we had lunch at the house of our aunt Constanza's grandparents and met the whole family - her parents, her grandparents, and her brother Rodolfo and his wife Lucia. We talked, played with the two little cousins, Santiago and Fatima (who has Down syndrome, like our own Laura, and is absolutely adorable), and finally played the flutes and sang for everyone. Later we saw the immense house Juancho and Coty are building before going to their current house, which is in a beautiful private neighborhood. We were up pretty late, which resulted in our sleeping in a lot on Monday, but we did go out into the city that afternoon. After going up the aerial railway to the Cerro San Bernardo, which has a nice park with a waterfall and some really nice views, we went down to see the Cathedral, which is beautiful and has (not content with one) three miraculous images!!! namely, Our Lady of Tears, and Our Lord and Lady of the Miracle (a painting, a crucifix, and a statue respectively.) I said, therefore, a prayer before each, and admired the beautiful altarpiece and the finely painted ceiling. We walked down to S. Francisco, whose most evident visual feature are the deep-red outer walls with white and gold trim; and we wanted to see San Bernardo, but it was closed, so we couldn't. We did walk back across the Plaza 9 de Julio, where the Cathedral is, and see the church of La Merced on the other side. There is a statue of Our Lady with the General's blue and white ribbon across her chest, given her before some battle (alas, I know not my own country's history!)
Yesterday we had a very long day! We got up early-ish and drove out into the mountains, going up and down past view after glorious view until we came up over the clouds and got to the beautiful old town of Cachi. We visited the church, which has some very pretty statues, drove round into the valley beyond for about an hour, and then came back into town to have lunch at a restaurant where we ate locro, the traditional stew. It was very good! Then we started driving back, blew a tire on the gravel before reaching Molinos, but changed it and got the broken one fixed in Molinos so we would have a spare in case it happened again. Fortunately it didn't, and when we were almost home Coty's grandmother called to offer us some tickets to a choir concert by Ars Nova, the children's choir of Salta. We all went, and the choir was excellent, though some of the music was modern and weird.
Today we got up late again, being very tired from yesterday, and went to the Archaeology Museum to see the mummies they had found high in the mountains. There were two on display; one from a volcano where they had found three (they display them by turns), all from sacrifices (the poor children had been left to freeze; one wa six, one fifteen, and one seven!), and one from a different place who had been dug up in 1920 and had been wandering around from hand to hand since then, until the museum acquired her in 2006.
Tomorrow is Lucia's birthday and it will be another long day!