Update from Uruguay
Montevideo, Uruguay. After a few weeks of nonstop moving I’m finally stuck in one place for more than 2 nights. This week “home” is in Montevideo. I decided to plant myself here for a little longer than usual in order to take a Spanish class at the Academia Uruguay. Today was day two and I am struggling with my limited prior knowledge of the language. I basically speak Shakira-isms peppered with some stock phrases that were hammered into my head by mi madre, the woman with whom my college roommate and I lived for a month while
drinking studying in Valencia. So basically that leaves me with “¡estoy a tus pies!” and “¡cuidado cariño!” On top of that, three weeks of floundering around in Brazilian Portuguese have rendered my Spanish pronunciation profoundly wonky. Hopefully this class can straighten me out.
Since I won’t be writing much this week while I’m studying, I wanted to jot down a few first impressions of Uruguay before they slip into a blasé oblivion.
-Everyone walks around sipping yerba maté out of little goards. Everyone. They carry with them at all times a thermos, a gourd, a metal straw with built in strainer, and loose yerba leaves. Many don’t even carry purses or briefcases, apparently willing to sacrifice the comfort and practicality of a bag in favor of a cumbersome “tea” station.
-Montevideo is, as the Swede so elegantly put it, “just the right amount of ghetto”. Yes many of the buildings in the old city are falling apart but many of those dilapidated facades enclose beautifully renovated museums and restaurants. The hotel where we stayed our first night here was so beaten up I thought it was some kind of joke or scam. There were gaping bullet sized holes in the door. When we entered however, we were greeted by the sight of white painted brick walls, modernist art, and a pleasant courtyard covered in ivy. I’ve come to appreciate the shabby exteriors and wonder what they’re hiding.
-All prices are translated into dollars, and not just for American customers, for everyone, so you have the option of paying in Uruguayan pesos or American dollars.
-Anana Fizz, a sparkling pineapple drink found in abundance in grocery stores here, is really weird but kind of nice and yes definitely contains alcohol despite my initial assumptions to the contrary.
-Milk comes in bags, like the kind you sometimes see mozzarella in.
That’s about all I’ve got for now. Stay tuned for a recap of the rest of Brazil and Uruguay!