11/2/2019 | by Coleen Sabatini, Apurva Shah and Salil Upasani
2019 SLAOTI/POSNA TF - Córdoba - Day 9
Day 9 – Calamuchita Valley
Sabado! After two busy days working on Thursday and Friday in Córdoba, we had a relaxing breakfast on Saturday morning. We were picked up by Dr. Javier Masquijo and Dr. Andrés Ferreyra for an overnight getaway to the Calamuchita Valley, about ninety minutes outside of Córdoba. On our way up into the mountains, Salil and Apurva rode with Dr. Ferreyra, who introduced them both to a wide range of Argentinian rock including Soda Stereo
and Los Fabulos Cadillacs
. Outside of his responsibilities as an orthopaedic surgeon and a father of two boys, Dr. Ferreyra sings in a ska band, Skaramuza
, and we were able to listen to of their debut album from 2005. Coleen rode with Dr. Masquijo as well as Dr. Baxter Willis (Past POSNA President from Ottawa Canada) and his delightful wife, Susan. They discussed various aspects of Argentinian life, US and Canada politics, and there was some lovely reminiscing of the times that Javier spent in Ottawa training with Dr. Willis.
Before long, our caravan arrived to the Allende family home surrounded by low mountains and bucolic fields. The beautiful traditional home and guest house are perched beautifully in the Calamuchita Valley. After greeting Dr. Allende and settling in, we were soon joined by Dr. Lucas Lanfranchi, pediatric orthopaedic surgery fellow Paula Biolatto, and a few of the orthopaedic surgery residents from Sanatorio Allende.
One of the third-year residents, Yeris, took the role of asador and quickly started a wood fire for a traditional Argentinian barbeque, or asado. In this slow cooking technique, an open fire is built and the embers are then spread under a wire rack where various cuts of meat are grilled carefully to perfection, flavored with coarse salt and lemon. Many of us put on a sweatshirt or a windbreaker to keep warm in the cooler mountain air.
As the asador prepared the meat, the group gathered in a circle to talk, share stories and laugh with our new friends while sampling local cheese and outstanding charcuterie which Paula brought from her hometown. We also sampled seven different Argentinian wines, careful curated by oenophile, Dr. Masquijo. Many of these were Malbecs from Mendoza, each with unique terroir
that reflected the diverse soil and microclimates of this renowned wine valley.
The outstanding wine, cheese and charcuterie set the mood for what would turn out to be an epic afternoon. We soon sat down at two large tables on Victoria’s lovely patio with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains for the asado.
We dined heartily, sampling many classic preparations including chorizo, molleja, matambre, flank steak, pork, morcilla (blood sausage). Dr. Masquijo made some amazing grilled peppers with egg and cheese cooked inside for Coleen and they were a hit with everyone!
One of the orthopaedic residents and his childhood friend serenaded us with beautiful folk music from Northern Argentina while playing the guitar and bombo (traditional drum). This was an amazing addition to an already fantastic day. Sipping Malbec, listening to beautiful music, and sharing time with wonderful people on a Saturday afternoon - what a gift!
The group lingered in the company of new friends for more than an hour soaking in the beauty of these old songs, many about the magic of falling love or the heartache of love lost. Many of us retreated for short naps, including a group that feel asleep on a small grassy hill under the afternoon sun.
After nap time and some hiking around the area, the residents and fellow departed, but we and some of the Argentinian faculty remained to spend the night in Dr. Allende’s beautiful home. The home is filled with family pictures, beautiful antiques and carefully curated artwork—together reflecting the warmth of the Allende family. We enjoyed a glorious sunset and then headed into a local village, Villa General Belgrano, for coffee and alfajores—dulce de leche sandwiched between two shortbread cookies.
We returned to Dr. Allende’s home where we were joined by her gracious husband Carlos and the group sat together in front of a crackling fire and enjoyed the warmth of Dr. Allende’s hospitality. Although we may not have needed a nightcap, Dr. Masquijo treated us to a variety of local craft beers and we all turned in for the night. As we drifted off to sleep and reflected on our traveling fellowship, we each recognized the tremendous value and joy of the new friendships we have made, both with each other and with our local hosts.