Forgetting How to Swim
Trip Start Jul 18, 2012
15Trip End Oct 23, 2012
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
Hotel Ayers, Colonia del Sacramento
What I did
I think my last thoughts illustrated my situation here pretty well; I love my classes but am less enthused with the city and the people here. Thus, I was very excited to have the opportunity and invitation to join Doro, my roommate and fellow student for a weekend jaunt to Colonia del Sacramento. Colonia is a small town about 3 hours away from Montevideo. It is a world heritage site and also the place where I like to say I found my Zen. Last year I visited Colonia for a brief, yet life changing eight hours. It remains one of my favorite places on earth - it's peaceful, beautiful, and has old world charm.
Doro and I found a small hotel that ended up being quite close to the bus station, Hotel Ayers, which had hot showers and free breakfasts
I love South America. One of the biggest reasons has always been the people. In any place I've visited in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, the people generally possess a love for life that is so abundant that it simply cannot be contained and thus spills and sloshes over to anyone or anything close by. You're always receiving invitations to go to this party or that dinner, or to try mate (a special kind of tea that the people here are addicted to), or to meet someone's girlfriend or mother or cousin... Montevideo is the exception to this rule. The people are friendly enough, but that extra light is missing. That extra sparkle, that gloss, that makes any other South American city with its graffiti, trash, and dilapidated buildings still BEAUTIFUL, is lacking. Instead, it's just a harsh city that doesn't have enough money to rebuild or rehab what could honestly be stunning. Within its folds it has pockets of this glimmer, Pocitos, for example, but intertwined exists this overall aloofness that permeates the very concrete. People here do what's expected. They are kind and good spirited, but I have yet to make any lasting connections with Uruguayans.
An excellent example is for a little over two weeks now, I have been talking to the staff here at the Academia about how lonely it is, or how hard it is to make friends
friends or to even tell me where I might be able to find some friendly faces. I must say that I adore all of them, my teacher in particular, Gaston, is pure joy. He has squiggled his way into my heart and I am so enamored of him (in a PURELY platonic way). He is a good man and we have so many enlightening discussions. Just yesterday I learned from a Uruguayan perspective about the numerous dictators that surged through South America with Operation Condor. We discuss politics, soccer, and women. The three topics that are most important to any Uruguayan - clearly. As Gaston points out, even women talk about women! Yet, I digress. Even in this most cherished relationship, not once has Gaston ever offered to introduce me to his friends. This may appear normal to many of you, but to me this is just so odd.
Doro and I were pontificating about these nuances, and I have to say I tried to defend Uruguay a little, as it is the country I've been dreaming about for over a year! When I tried to tell her that I've made plenty of friends here (either last year or currently), I had the sudden realization that not one of them is from Uruguay. Oh I've cultivated plenty of fantastic connections, but not ONE is Uruguayan. There are Irish, Brazilian, Austrian, German, and Dutch. I am mystified about this, as all of these connections have usually been made in one day, in a few hours before departing for a new destination; and yet, here I am in one location for almost three weeks and I have not been able to break that barrier.
Hence, being in back in Colonia, I just felt at peace
I have always been a firm believer in the thought that everything happens for a reason. Upon arriving in Colonia, my soul felt at home. I do not know what it is about this particular location in the world, but I've never felt anything like it. It's like my body is a tuning fork and when I step foot in the barrio historico, it sings. Doro and I had an absolutely lovely time, and on our last evening walking along the riverside, we encountered a young gentleman. I spoke to him in Spanish, and he clearly didn't understand. He turned out to be Austrian (yet another foreigner!) and had recently moved to Colonia for work. He'll be stationed there for a year. We started chatting about what it was like to live there and he kindly gave me his email address should I end up residing there. In this moment, it all clicked. I had known this man for less than five minutes and here he is, offering his personal information. At this moment I knew I needed to move.
Doro and I returned to Montevideo that night, and within two hours I had found and rented an incredible studio in the historic neighborhood for a very affordable price. What's more, later that evening my mother informed me that my landlord had finally sent my security deposit back, and it just so happened to be for the amount of my first month's rent. Everything happens for a reason, I just have to remind myself to keep swimming.