Montevideo

Trip Start Aug 03, 2007
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11
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Palermo Art Hostel

Flag of Uruguay  ,
Sunday, September 9, 2007

sarah has gone deaf from some bad cold. but this place is sweet. burnt out from a shame spiral in rio (this was also mostly sarah and perhaps the cause of her cold) and the drama of being in that bad country, and really really really happy to be in uruguay. first impressions, it's like st. louis. and everyone is pretty much white. and have already surprised us with their blatant racism. and oh my god they finally speak spanish! even though we don't really. and we're staying in the williamsburg of montevideo apparently as it is full of uber hipsters and familiar of home. and they all walk around drinking their mate which looks like grass tea and we haven['t gotten our hands on it yet. things just got a whole lot better. well except for that nasty cold. (ps. for fellow travelers, palermo art hostel is the nicest hostel we have stayed in yet. lots of exhibitions. and young travelers. mostly just very clean and asthetic. off from the city center though in the hipper section of town (by hip i mean graffitti and tight jeans and band practice in old lofts) on gamboto.
lots more later and pictures soon.

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montivedeo...why does this place seem so much like a better version of home? it has the big city appearence and vivacity yet the small town charm and simplicity. call it a st. louis in another continent. call it an unpretentious williamsburg. either way, we call it wonderful, and dont really want to leave. yesterday, sunday, for example...woke up lazily and made an egg sandwich and coffee. chatted over breakfast and arranged a spanish\english lesson for later in the evening with our columbian friend, our homeschooling knowledge exchange. walked to the huge sunday market with josie. wandered the streets trying to speak only in spanish weaving through stalls with fresh fruits and vegetables, endless tables of books in the language were starting to pick up, carts attached to bikes selling sausages, little girls browsing through costume jewelry, little boys eating chicken nuggets in front of caged chickens, olive salesmen next to tomato peddlers, past the guy that makes keys, the woman with the smiling eyes and grey bun selling antique crystal, a man cooking sugary roasted peanuts in a white apron, the couple behind a table of leather hides, walk down the street with second hand clothes, a bright red accordian, gold door knobs, a cash register missing a few buttons that belongs in a hardware store from the 40s, continue past the cheese, every variety stacked high in the bright blue trailor, past the meat trailor with red dangling bodies hanging from the ceiling. we try not to be obvious taking photos of people. some stare back. some mothers get angry. some dont notice, lost in their mat or bargaining. we browse through bookstores for spanish poetry books to try to translate later and search for an english book we can be interested in, having read all the good ones we brought with us. arrive back at the hostel and eat mexican stew we made the day before. jos, nico, and jean are eating lunch in the courtyard outside and we join them. we perch on the steps infront of a neon yellow wall and sip our soup in our fabulous coats, bought a few days before from a flea market run by old ladies in the basement of a church. sarahs is candy apple red with gold satin lining and mine looks like a grandmas sofa, creme colored with obnoxious yet lovely red flowers covering the surface. after lunch sarah takes a nap and emily takes a walk down the tree lined streets, past another market and the park where families take their kids to paddleboat in the lake or ride the carousel or swing on the crayola colored playground behind the art museum. taking more pictures along the way, i walk to the bahia de los muertos. dead fish and rats everywhere. we walked here the other day, nico showing us the way with a beer in hand, he says its a great beach in the summer, the tide gets low in the winter and thats the cause of this fish graveyard. we hop over scaly sandy corpses, most missing eyeballs, mouths gaping open, some bodies severed in two, insides spilling out in the surf, or lying in piles next to the occasional rat, missing patches of fur from being tossed in the waves. the birds swoop down to feast of the dead beach. walk back to our neighborhood, i run into sarah on the way back, have a cappuccino and practice spanish. return to the hostel frozen since the sun set and make guacamole a drink a bottle of cheap red wine. laugh. talk. reminisce. the girls from argentina come back and we all go to candombe. follow the sound of drums until we meet up with the procession, dance salsa-like in the streets, following the beat of drums with new friends, passing around big bottles of beer, meet new argentenians and a few locals, dance and dance for blocks. the finale is on our block, stare at one of the drummers bleeding hands, the side of his white drum streaked red from a night of fierce drumming. end our night in the hostel, jean the frenchman has been making pizza from scratch all night, he is rolling the dough with a wine bottle when we walk in, real italian pizza he says, and its great. nico bought an enormous jug of red wine and we all sit around the fire, trying to talk only in spanish, playing never have i ever, and singing songs led by jean. he knows a little lou reed, hotel california, and wild thing, we laugh and sing a long, the rest of the night its songs of the revolution, led by the argentenian girl, silk scarf tied around her neck, shes from another time entirely we decide. when it gets to be three we both try to sleep, going to bed smelling like a campfire, sarahs bed is shaking from the music on the other side of the wall. ipod or earplugs, we fall asleep, while the guitar and bongos still play, the fire still barely burns, and they still drink, having moved on to whiskey and coffee. jean misses his flight the next morning.

after a day that probably went something like: visiting museums, sitting around the hostel reading or drawing or writing, walking walking walking, taking endless photos, we went to watch jean play at a bar-recording studio called cheesecake records. he played some songs in french and spanish in a sound booth with drooping red foam ceilng, a lit up on air sign, and silver 1950s mic hanging in front of the preformer. the crowd gathered mostly outside looking through the window, through the recording booth window, speaker playing loudly while everyone sat around wobbily little wooden tables. a poet read next. his goatee hides his already mumbly voice and we understood very little of what he was saying, beyond a general feeling of the words. muchas palabras in sus ojos. thats the only line that sticks out, like the night before at this womans music show at bar fun fun (foon foon) when the only recognizable line was mariposas negras, she stood on stage wearing light up rings, smiling with big teeth, making trumpet noises with hand cupped over her mouth or bird noises with a whistle. i ask the poet if he had any work for sale. we exchange emails and he sits with us at the table. he chains smokes and his goatee hides any smile or smirk he might have. he asks meto recite some of my work. ummm uhhh. blank. used to forgetting words in spanish, muchas palabras, but in english too, hoping i havent lost both languages in one evening, i say ill email him later. we walk down the street to a pizza place with a waiter who looks like the one who follows jack nickelson into the bathroom in the shinning. the whole place has the shining feel. a little boy in usa boxing gloves comes in asking for money, says hes gonna be the next mike tyson. we give him some change, finish our pizza and start the walk home through downtown.

montivedeo...we love you lots.
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