Well-Fed Montevideo

Trip Start Sep 25, 2007
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Trip End May 29, 2008


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Flag of Uruguay  ,
Sunday, October 14, 2007

It was slightly tired and confused that we left Colonia, having been kept awake the previous night by revellers (including a greasy frenchman who informed us with considerable enjoyment that the All Blacks had been beaten) and having missed our 8.30 bus because daylight saving had snuck up on us. The countryside is strikingly like that of the Waikato - very green with gentle rolling hills and lots of cows.

We arrived in Montevideo feeling it had all been worthwhile, however. It was a golden, balmy afternoon, and as it was Uruguays ´day of patrimony´, the streets were filled with tango & milonga demonstrations, folk dancing, and even a brass band. We found a hotel right in the city centre and wandered through the antique and craft markets enjoying the festive atmosphere.

Then the rain set in on Monday. Montevideo had been something of a pit stop anyway, to make plans, clean clothes and get supplies, but the persistent, heavy, driving nature of the rain which only let up the day we left was still a shame.

Uruguayans were refreshingly warm, polite and friendly after our stay in Buenos Aires. Cars slow down for other cars & pedestrians (indeed, many major intersections had no lights or signs, seemingly operating on a courtesy system), and people would volunteer to give us directions or help us get off buses at the right stop. On our last day we told a local how friendly everyone was after BA, and he grinned and pushed his nose in the air with his finger in what seems to be the international symbol for ´Stuck-up Porteño´ - people from Buenos Aires have a poor reputation here.

We saw a slightly more affluent society, with a larger middle class, and more laid back. There were more blacks as well as fair-complexioned people, and a few more tall people (although we still stuck out). Uruguay also has fat people, a condition that the vast, lean working class of BA does not experience at all.

As our South African host in Colonia pointed out, you can tell a lot about a society from the way it treats its animals, and the dogs in Uruguay looked almost universally well cared for, and butchers everywhere feed strays. Even the pigeons look much happier, compared to the scraggy, ratty creatures that haunt BA.

Refuelled and refreshed, having confined most of our excursions to museums, art galleries, restaurants, ticket offices, and a mausoleum, the sun finally came out yesterday. We explored the finally dry city and its shores (it´s impossible to remember you´re not looking at the sea when it stretches to the horizon) and left Montevideo at 4pm much as we had found it - sunny, friendly, and bustling with markets.

After another bus trip followed by ferry, we arrived back in Buenos Aires, the city that never bathes, at 11pm, tired and glad we had booked a bed.

And people, I know we´re not giving you dinner and a show here, but how about a little love? The odd emailed response, maybe posting a comment on our blog (and yes, we know you have to subscribe to the website, but it´s simple and free). We´re still interested in what happens in NZ, and it would be nice to know a few more of you care...[sniffle].
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