A weekend in Uruguay

As my time in the beautiful Buenos Aires winds down, the adventures are only heating up.  This past Saturday, two of my friends and I made a trip to Colonial and Montevideo (Uruguay) to see what the “carnival” was all about.  One thing I learned is that sometimes being late and unprepared can make things more interesting.  I’ll get to that later.

Uruguayan flag

Uruguayan flag

We left Saturday afternoon and made our 30 min bus ride down to the port where our boat was docked.  Once we got there we checked in, got our tickets, and we headed to the immigration and customs line.  While checking in the lady at the desk asked me if I had payed the reciprocity fee to enter Argentina…. in spanish.  Yeah, so it took a minute.  She was getting irritated, but I don’t know why because I wasn’t really paying attention… hehe.  I kind of understood what she was saying but not specifically.  Then I was getting irritated because I payed $160 to get in a month ago and I thought she was telling me I would have to pay it again on the way back from Uruguay.  Then I realized she was just telling me I will need to have my receipt to get back into Argentina on my return trip.  So thankfully the hostel I stayed at was nice enough to let me print a copy of my receipt online.  To inform you, all Americans, Canadians, and Australians have to pay a $160 fee to enter most countries.  Why?  Because we (our government) makes everyone else pay $160 to get into our country.  I guess fair is fair right?  But, it still sucks regardless.

Anyway after making our boat with only a few minutes to spare (thank God it left later than it said it would), we grabbed a seat on the floor because all the seats were taken.  Yep, that’s what you get for being late.  The boat was nice though, it had a nice little perfume shop and a small concession stand inside.  But anytime you’re traveling the food is going to be expensive.  I payed 4$ for a coffee the size of one of those cooler cone water cups (I have no clue what they are called).  Ridiculous… I know.

El tres amigos.  The best part about this picture is the story.  The lady on the right is cracking up because the lady taking a picture had no idea how to use a camera.  Before she got it right she had the camera pointing to herself and upside down.  This was us waiting at a bus station

Los tres amigos. The best part about this picture is the story. The lady on the right is cracking up because the lady taking a picture had no idea how to use a camera. Before she got it right, she had the camera pointing to herself and it was upside down. Anyway, this was us waiting at a bus station.

After an hour boat ride we arrived to Colonial, Uruguay around 9-ish… I think.  We checked into our hostel and went out to find a bar to celebrate my Belgium friends Birthday.  The place we went was awesome, and you can say we celebrated alright haha… but I’ll just leave it to that. The bar was on a rooftop and had a laid back tropical feel.  The kinda place you see on tv.  But the funniest thing all night was when I asked the waitress where the bathroom was.  She said it was complicated and continued to give me directions(all in spanish).  So I went where I thought she told me.  Behind the grill on the first floor, then down the stairs pass two doors and take a right, go straight and take another right.  I found a toilet in a weird room that didn’t look like a bathroom and the room had no light but I just went anyway.  30 minutes later my friends went and said it was easy to find.  “We just went behind the grill and took a left.”  My first thought was “ehhh, ooopps”.  So then I bought another beer and that was that.  Sorry to the person that possibly had to clean that.  I hope your not reading this!

To finish the night, around 1-ish we went and got some pizza and drinks until the birthday boy said he had to go to the bathroom.  Well… he never returned and it was about 20 minutes later when we noticed.  After thinking that he may of been kidnapped or something we finally found him in his bed at the hostel.  I guess in Belgium the bathroom is code for “I’m done for the night”.  Anyway, that should tell you how good his night was.

He had a good time for sure.  Great night!

My Belgium friend Diederik had a good time for sure. Great night!

We woke up on Sunday and headed to the beach for a few hours to catch some rays the way the good lord intended.  In my case, 20 minutes and then the shade for a few hours.  Ginger jokes, go ahead…. I know they are coming haha.  It was nice to get a break from the non stop craziness of Buenos Aires though.

While sitting under the palm tree and pondering life’s greatest mysteries for a couple of hours, I then spoke an hour or so with a couple of dutch girls about some tv shows, southern culture, dutch culture, politics, and other stuff.  It was a good talk, and I think those talks are good.  I think the best way to learn where you stand in politics and life in general is to have good conversations with those people from other cultures and political views.

For example, we talked about what it’s like to have marijuana legalized in Holland.  She told me some negative things that other people in the states don’t think about.  It’s also funny to give them an opposing side to the gun control.  It get’s complicated explaining my view because they don’t even have that argument in their country… but there are countless arguments both ways.  In the end I still believe what I believe, but opening your ears every now and then can help you reaffirm your beliefs… or change them for the better.  In conclusion, people who can’t listen are blind.  Though, you don’t have to agree in order to listen.  Unfortunately I think media is one of the worst thing in politics.  People usually only get one side of the story with most news channels these days.  Damnit!  There I go again with politics!

You know me, just hanging out on the beaches in Uruguay.

You know me, just hanging out on the beaches in Uruguay.

After the beach we got on our 2 hour bus ride to Montevideo where we stayed two nights.  The first night we went to a bar where we had a few drinks and danced a little bit.  I noticed a girl looking at us out of the corner of my eye, so I decided to keep an eye on her for the next hour (of course it was out of the corner of my eye, I wasn’t going to let her know I was watching)to see what she would do.  She tried all night to dance near us to get our attention and we stayed firm and didn’t give her any attention nor the time of day.  After we decided to go I saw her turn to her friend and say “NOOOOOO” when we left(she didn’t see me watch her).  It’s funny when you can tell what people are trying to do solely from body language.  It wasn’t mean either, because we simply weren’t interested anyway haha.  Lesson learned, you don’t have to speak the same language to read people.  It’s all in the body, and hopefully I’ll get to turn that into a career someday!

Monday…. what a long and interesting day that was.  We started out by walking nearly 3 miles of coastline to enjoy the city and nice breeze.  After complaining to the guys that I felt like my skin was going to boil we went in a restaurant for some water.  After finding the place where we were going to go that night for the famous “carnival”, we decided to run to the hostel to get a shower and all that good stuff.

A view of Montevideo.

A view of Montevideo.

We then went out for an early dinner where we HAD to try Uruguayan beef.  Some say it’s better than Argentina’s, but I say it just depends on the chef.  It was great needless to say.

Attempting my Adam Richmond (Man vs. Food) pose.

Attempting my Adam Richmond (Man vs. Food) pose.  The steak was great in case you were wondering.

We quickly finished up dinner because we were suppose to meet some friends at our hostel.  Then we went to there hostel where we were suppose to meet them, which was like a mile out of the way. We got there when we found out that they had left 5 minutes before us.  Frustrated that we shouldn’t of gone to their hostel to meet up,  we went down to the 3 miles of coastline we walked earlier to try to catch up.

We didn’t see them and couldn’t catch a taxi so we walked the whole 3 miles… again.  My feet were cussing at me the whole time.  Sometimes though, when one door closes another one will open (in some way or form).  Walking along that coastline at sunset was one of the best scenes you could think of.  We were rushed to get to the carnival before tickets ran out but we had to stop and drink a beer at what was the most beautiful scene I’ve seen in South America thus far…

Money can't buy something like this.  Well.... actually I guess if you had a lot of money you could buy a nice house on the beach.  So never mind...

Money can’t buy something like this… Well…. actually I guess it could if you have the money to buy a house on the beach.   So never mind… But you get my point.

So after the sunset (I know, I don’t sound like the kind of guy that likes to watch a sunset… so don’t get use to it) we rushed to the carnival where they closed the ticket office literally 30 seconds before we were going to buy our tickets.  Probably not even 30 seconds.  So as soon as that new door opened another one closed again haha, I swear it’s a giant circle.  We didn’t come all the way to Uruguay to not go to the carnival.  So unfortunately we had to get tickets from a scalper for nearly double the price.  The good news is that it was still only 15$ in the U.S.

The crowd funneling in before the next show!

The crowd funneling in before the next show!

The carnival was great, but a lot different than what I was expecting.  It was good to experience their culture though.  The carnival was basically a series of crazy cultural shows.  I thought it was going to be more like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but hey… I’m in South America, not the U.S.

One of the shows during the carnival... Unique experience for sure.

One of the shows during the carnival… Unique experience for sure.  All I have to say is those women on stage knew how to move it… If you know what I mean.

Afterwards we went to a bar on the beach were we once again had a few drinks.  This place was pretty sweet as it had the cool local feel to it.  I attempted to create a conversation with a local… but once again, the language barrier kicked in after two sentences.  You can totally tell if they want to continue speaking with you.  If they don’t want to talk, they are just short with you, but if they do they will explain more than they need too.  She wanted to talk, but what can you do right?

Not speaking the language causes serious closure (couldn’t think of a better word) issues though.  If you play your cards right, starting a conversation is not an issue most of the time.  All the more reason to keep learning right!!!???

It was a great weekend that was full of surprises and it was a nice way to enjoy our two days off from intensive spanish classes.  Even though spanish was still used all weekend…. Oh and on the return trip we booked first class seats which included champagne!  We didn’t even know we booked it haha.

I’m six weeks in and I have learned a lot.  Not just about spanish either.  I’ve learned a lot about people and their cultures too.  I’ve met some awesome locals and made some great friends from other countries that I will keep in touch with forever.  Most importantly though, I think I’ve learned that “fun” for me is constantly pushing myself to achieve more, or that that’s my main motive (not saying I don’t have lazy moments, because in reality… I’m not Superman haha…. believe it or not).  Most people will say that their dream life would be living on the beach everyday, with a cold beer or tropical drink next to them…  To me going out to bars/clubs, traveling, and all that stuff is fun.  But there is something about not fulfilling potential that totally urks me. I don’t think I will ever be satisfied, in a good way though.

To relate, I get frustrated daily, but there hasn’t been one time where I have thought about quitting.  I honestly look forward to going to class every day believe it or not.  My dad once told me that to be a college basketball coach you had to love it, not just like it.  Most people like things or hobbies, but don’t love them.  If you truly want something worth value you either have to love doing it(putting up with all the work that goes into it)… or be ok with being completely miserable haha.  In my case I believe I love learning the language.  But don’t let me make you think I’m good, because I’m still terrible lol.  Just saying that I’m still pushing through and growing.  I know it will be worth it though.

Stay tuned for a few of my next articles where I will be comparing the great Dixie to the life of a Porteno (Buenos Aires local).  Hopefully my Polo lessons and futbol experience will be coming soon as well.


Side notes:

  • I usually need SPF 50, but I think in South America I need SPF 100… haha just exaggerating a little bit, but not really.  The sun is stronger down here.
  • Learning a new language is killing my memory, I’m not forgetting things but it’s taking me longer to recall simple things because my brain is prioritizing Spanish.
  • Be ready for your spanish to get tested after greeting someone in Spanish with confidence.  I totally got caught on this one.
  • Girls down here totally dig the Rihanna hair style
  • If you’re from the U.S. you’re generally either loved or hated.  There is rarely a middle ground.
  • Two weeks from Friday I’m heading to Chile, getting pumped! but I will miss Buenos Aires for sure…

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