27th – 30th Dec ’13 – Back to Montevideo, we like it that much*

Thanks to the couchsurfing.org community we found a last minute host near the football stadium. Selene gives us a ride in her little car with our bags strapped to the roof. She is a very little old lady who drives a little crazy. We make it to our destination in one piece where we will stay with Mauricio and Jimena for the next 3 nights. They are the sweetest, kindest couple and are both computer programmers. Our first night we take a walk through their part of town to the Pocitos area where we have the best ice cream in the world! The wonderful ice cream on this continent is becoming a problem..

Just in case we forget..

Just in case we forget..

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Montevideo City Streets

Saturday we take a walk through Old Town, the architecture is beautiful and I can see myself renovating one of these buildings for a while – maybe one day. We see the weekend craft markets with everything from vintage clothes to antique cameras. I love markets. We also see the famous meat market. Inside an old warehouse, there is a collection of restaurants specialising in Asado where the aromatic smoke rises high up to the ceiling to fill the air with the intoxicating flavour of grilled meat. Yum!

With the mercury pushing 40°C we decide it is time to hit home for a rest.

We are going to see an actual film at a movie theater inside a mall tonight. We haven’t been to the movies in so long it almost feels like a novelty event. I’m not a big fan of malls and I doubt that it will change just because it’s all in Spanish, but I do love a good movie – Hunger games 2 with Spanish subtitles it is then.

Before our movie, we decide to get some real coffee to take in with us. At the coffee shop we have our first real case of becoming lost in translation. You know, when two people who don’t understand each other’s languages try to communicate it can be a very amusing, difficult thing. The waitress comes to us and I order, no problem. Then she starts rambling very fast in Spanish, and I ask her to, “habla mas despacio por favor”, and instead of speaking slower, she speaks louder. I tell her we understand a little Spanish if she speaks slower, I use hand gestures, facial expressions and still she just speaks louder and louder until I honestly feel like I am being shouted at. I’m foreign, not deaf! Stop shouting in Spanish! It shouldn’t be this hard to order coffee! Just before I lose my cool with this waitress, a British woman behind me asks if we need some help with translation. YES PLEASE. Jane is an expat who has lived and worked in Montevideo  for many years already, and even she and her son said that the waitress had a strange accent. Thanks for rescuing us Jane! We chat for a while about our travels and the city before heading into the cinema with coffee in hand.

Intoxicating Asado flavours in the air*

Intoxicating Asado aromas in the air*

We return home to find Mauricio, Jimena and a few friends having a little fiesta on the roof terrace. We join them for the best hamburger I’ve had since Brazil (thanks Mauri) and drink some Pomelo which is a flavour of soft drink, like Guarana was in Brazil. I like it. I take a sip and I realized that the stuff tastes like Fresca! And they say nothing tastes like Fresca. “They” were obviously mitaken! Pomelo tastes like Fresca. After this revelation I can go to sleep peacefully now!

****

It is Sunday, and we only wake up at noon. The sleeping habits and circadian rhythms of South American need to be studied  – we are becoming like them. Our day is filled with a whole lot of nothing. It is too hot outside, about 40°C, and too hot inside to move, so we just lie down in front of the fan for most of the day. We are making final plans for our trip to Buenos Aires tomorrow on the ferry so we are not being completely useless. Here’s the lowdown on ferry travel from Montevideo to Buenos Aires – You have 2 options, Montevideo to BA direct or Montevideo – Colonia – BA. Montevideo to BA is run only by Buquebus and is very expensive! Montevideo – Colonia – BA is run by Buquebus(expensive), Seacat (less expensive) and Colonia Express (least expensive). If you book 5 days before your departure date it will be cheapest. If you don’t speak Spanish get a friendly Uruguayan to book over the phone for you, they’re easy to find. We will take a bus from Tres Cruces Bus Station at 7:55 AM to Colonia, it will take us straight to the ferry port in Colonia so no missioning around there again. Immigration for both sides is handled here. Voila! Hola Argentina!

Street markets are easy to find in Old City*

Street markets are easy to find in Old City*

Sunday nights in Uruguay is characterized by drumming. Candombe  is an Uruguayan music and dance style originating from African slaves that were brought to South America by the Spaniards. It is considered an important aspect of the culture of Uruguay and was recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage of humanity. All over the country and especially in Montevideo, drummers come together to make beautiful noise. Some are organised groups who enter contests, others are just people with instruments who make a fire in the street and start drumming informally. It’s magical to be surrounded my these drums. It fills me up inside and creates an excitement for more. It’s almost like a trance or an outer body experience. I need to get some drums.

While experiencing this magic I find time to acknowledge that I have truly fallen in love with Uruguay and come to think of it, it wasn’t even on our original list. The first 2 weeks were horrible but the last 2 were extraordinary! We met wonderful people and that is really what we are travelling for, to restore our belief in the goodness of human beings. I am quite sad to leave, but I will be back! This is a country I could return to again and again. Every place has their problems, but maybe I can help fix some of them.

But first Argentina!

****     See the FULL MONTEVIDEO GALLERY (clickety click!)                                                     

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