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Montevideo

URUGUAY | Thursday, 14 February 2008 | Views [1904] | Comments [1]

Initially, I was sceptical toward Montevideo. Having arrived from Brazil, land of colour, party and general happiness (yes, such generalizations, and there were of course other aspects to Brazil - it's probably one of the most confounding places I've been to, not up there with India, but still doing pretty well [to read similar, but more articulate and longer, musings, go to: http://yuriawanohara.blogspot.com/2008/02/so-what-i-really-think-about-brasil.html] – yet even so, the vivacity of Brazil was extremely impressive), Montevideo just seemed a little bit drab. Phew, what a complicated parenthesis. Anyway, the city itself, Moni and I agreed, seemed nice, but that was about it. I feared that I had arrived in the Sweden of Latin America, what with the empty streets and silent bus passengers. I realized that the people we meet while living here were going to make the difference in terms of how much we like it.

And the people we’ve met so far have definitely tipped the scales in Montevideo’s favour. First of all, we moved into a student house near the center of town, about two weeks ago now. It’s an old building that has the potential to be really nice, but everything is kind of crumbling and haphazard. The wall next to my bed, for example, is disintegrating, and the showerhead in the bathroom has to be manoeuvred with a spanner. The fridge is constantly leaking all over the kitchen floor, we probably have a few hundred pets consisting of ants and cockroaches and the bathroom sink can’t be completely turned off. Despite all these things, we really enjoy where we’re staying. We share the house with four girls from the city 33 (yep): the sisters Elena and Cecilia, as well as Yanina and Romina. They’re all really sweet, open, funny and extremely patient with my Spanish (which, just in this short time, feels like it’s improving, thanks to them). There are two guys living there as well, but they’re on holiday and I haven’t met them yet. We also share the house with the janitor, Octavio, a 68-year old little man whose big anchor-tattoo on the left arm signifies his service to the navy, and who also was a hairdresser for 40 years (I love the combination). When he’s not out with his female friends or doing things around the house, he hangs out with the rest of us in the living room or the front doorstep where we watch the world go by outside.

Our roommates have obviously made a huge difference in terms of how much we like where we’re staying, but there are some other great things about it as well. First of all, it includes amenities like hot water, kitchen, washing machine, cable TV, etc. for an incredibly cheap price; we’re paying less than € 30 per month. Secondly, we have a huge rooftop to hang out on. Third, our house looks out onto a little plaza with a playground where there are always kids playing, couples cuddling, people drinking and smoking. I know, great role models for the kids, that last category, but for us it’s still a nice mix of people to watch and hang out with. Last night, for example, we had a football game on the street, which included some of us from the house (I need a collective name for us), a friend of the other girls, a 10-year old neighbour named Dylan and some teenagers who were hanging out on the plaza. It was good fun, not only because I hadn’t played for ages, but also due to the mix of people, from different ages, social groups and both guys and girls.

Another group of people that we really like here in Montevideo are the ones that we work with at Choike. The internship isn’t exactly how I imagined it, but I’m adjusting and enjoying the discussions with the other choikers about social issues or just random things in general.

We also went to a meeting with some couchsurfers the other week. We had lunch with them and went out in la ciudad vieja, and it was interesting hearing what they had to say about things from Uruguay’s educational system and poverty, to its music and food. One of them, Sofía, was another one of those Uruguayans we’ve met that are tipping the scales in Montevideo’s favour and we’re hoping to go see Dani Umpi (www.daniumpi), an artist that she introduced to us, with her soon.

Last week, we managed to see a bit more of Uruguay, when we went to Punta del Diablo on the coast during a long weekend we had. Not realizing how busy such places get during holiday season here, we ended up having to camp since we couldn’t find any room and didn’t shower for 3 days since we were too lazy to shower with the cold, well water or to heat it up on the fire. The first day was pretty miserable, with rain, wind and cold which is just crap if you’re going to the seaside. The town itself is a bit weird too; the impression we got was of a fishing town which was only recently discovered by tourists and which is now being overrun by haphazardly built holiday houses. The next day, however, we went to the nearby town of Castillos to take out money to be able to get back to Montevideo and pay for the camping, and we took much more of a liking to it than Punta del Diablo. It could have had something to do with the sudden change in weather; it was hot and sunny and we spent the afternoon laying on the packed beach back in Punta.

We’ve also done a bit of going out, both with the CSers as mentioned, and our roomies. To Moni’s and my chagrin, the types of music that seem most popular to dance to in these parts are cumbia and a mix of Argentine and Uruguayan rock and ska. Luckily, the people make the difference again, and we had a lot of fun when we went out. Unfortunately, some other people, namely an overwhelming amount of sleazy guys, are a nuisance, especially if you’re a group of 6 girls. Ok, I put that way too nicely. Like in the other countries we've been to on this trip, the guys here can be really fucking annoying and disrespectful when you go out as a group of girls. Until this whole structural problem is solved, I think Moni and I will make the most of Montevideo's gay clubs.

So that about sums up my experience of Montevideo, 2 weeks into my stay here. I’m warming up to this place more and more, making new friends, walking around town, which is getting more crowded as people are coming back from their holidays, going to concerts and sitting on La Rambla, watching the sun set over the sea.

Tags: People

 

Comments

1

Trevligt att få höra lite om Montevideo. Nu är det bara foton som fattas. Ursäkta om jag stressar dig, men det är så kul att se och göra sig en bild av hur det ser ut.

Massor av kramar

  Mammilamman Feb 14, 2008 12:57 PM

 

 

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