Córdoba was an oven;at noon the bus station thermometer was already tipping 33 degrees.
His faded yellow taxi was a creaking crock; sweat tricked down his face as he bashed open the boot and stuffed our bags into a clutter of plastic bottles, buckets,wires, dish cloths and a huge fuel cylinder.
As we crawled out of the station, he was very friendly but near-impossible to understand. But then I was somewhat dizzy and distracted by the strong burning smell and unbearable heat.
‘Are we on fire?’ Nan and Darragh screamed from a smokey back seat .
Thankfully, the bags were fine,they had hit loose light cables causing them to smoke.
Maradona chatted all the way, telling us how Córdoba was so much better than Buenos Aires.
We baked that afternoon as we braved the crazy temperatures to explore Córdoba’s colonial charms from Manzana Jesuita to Museo de Belles Artes.
No one else on the streets except sleeping dogs and gangs of orange-bibbed parkers, loitering with intent at street corners. Pay them to mind your car or risk their wrath.
‘January. Hot, hot, hot! Everyone’s gone!’
She served up delicious tostadas and tea with cold milk to make us feel at home.
We enjoyed her homely hospitality till the power failed; airconditioning across the city was straining the network.
The grill’s flaming coals were too close for comfort so, dripping in sweat, we headed to our apartment and waited for sunset to explore .
On our final afternoon, we struggled in blazing sunshine to hail a taxi.
A stranger’s head popped out of an approaching car.
‘ Where are you going ?’a friendly girl shouted.
‘To the bus station.’
‘I bring you, I bring you’ she enthused,sweeping onto the kerb.
‘I was a muchillera ten years ago in Patagonia. I know what it’s like. And in this heat.!!’
Anna Julia bubbly told us her life story during the ten minute trip. Her job as a tennis instructor, her dreams of emigrating to Australia, her trip across Europe with her ex boyfriend.
We kissed and hugged at the station and she warned us to be careful who we spoke to.
Córdoba’s friendly people and searing heat are burnt into our memories for ever.