Oh Uruguay. What a fabulous and humbling country. Montevideo, its capital, is home to the majority of Uruguay’s population and where I spent four delightful weeks. My first impression of the country wasn’t…..well, impressive. My quaint little apartment was right in the heart of the capital near Ciudad Viaje (“Old Town”) in a concrete jungle littered with trash, dog poo and graffiti on every block. An area where all businesses have metal garage-style doors they pull over the storefronts when closed to prevent burglaries. Not a great sign of how safe I would feel for the next month. Gulp.
But fast forward a week and I fell hard. I no longer saw the graffiti. I didn’t see the dog poo (although I did smell it). I didn’t see the concrete jungle. What I did find was a culture rich in incredible music and art, warm unassuming people that pay more attention to people than phones, stunning architecture, and mucho papas fritas (french fries). These people loooooove their carne and papas. And I am in looooove with Uruguay.
The most astounding thing about Montevideo was how quiet it was for a capital city. You’d never know you were in a city of over 1.3M people. There are no sirens, no loud music, no douchebags revving their low rider engines, no hooting or hollering, and no honking horns. Amen! The Urugauyos are a respectful and quiet bunch. In America, it seems many seek differentiation and do what they can to draw attention to themselves be it flashy cars, flashy clothes, crazy hair/piercings/tattoos, obnoxious personalities, etc. (none of which I have a problem with, for the record). Uruguayos, however, are quite the opposite. It seems to be a culture of blending in and not drawing attention to oneself. Fashion is neutral and so is everything else. Side note: I actually felt uncomfortable walking around in my snazzy blue workout pants. Second side note: The above description does not apply to men in dance clubs.
I’m already hoping to plan a trip back and perhaps pop over to Buenos Aires for a bit. Four weeks flew by and yet there was so much more to see. Must go back!!!
It wouldn’t be my usual blog if I didn’t provide my list of random observations.
- Many of the street markets sell massive amounts of fish tank supplies and puppies. Hm.
- People aren’t walking around or eating at restaurants staring at their phones. Noted.
- Milk comes in a bag which causes problems when you don’t know there’s a plastic pitcher to use with it.
- Eggs are not refrigerated (like practically everywhere else but America).
- They aren’t morning people and stores don’t open early.
- The boardwalk is FULL of locals enjoying the sunset with their family and friends. They have a beautiful appreciation for community and life.
- Their enormous wooden front doors are gorgeous. They do doors VERY well.
- They always cut the crust off sandwich bread.
- They also use the dollar sign so prices can get confusing sometimes.
- Women don’t wear high heels. Instead, the ladies where 2-3 inch foam platforms. The sidewalks are cobblestone so walking in heels would be impossible.
- I didn’t see any obesity issues anywhere in Uruguay (even with all the papas fritas).
- They use old school skeleton keys for their door locks. Super cool, but weird.
- 75% of the people are walking around with the local tea (mate) in one hand and a backup thermos full of hot water in the other. There MUST be a better way. Please someone invent something to resolve this issue. Both hands are full and it looks so awkward.
- There’s legit depletion in the ozone layer over Uruguay so use sunscreen fiercely. Seriously, look it up online.
- Latin American’s clap when the plane lands.
- You’re welcome. 🙂
I was also able to travel to several incredible cities that will leave an ever-lasting imprint in my memory: Punta del Este, Piriapolis, and Cabo Polonio. I’ll write more about Cabo Polonio later as it was an experience like no other. Look out for a separate post to follow. Cheers.