Wednesday, May 20, 2015

When in Chile, Aprovechar // Take Advantage & Enjoy

Welcome to the re-count of my journey to a country full of delicious beef, immigrants from all over, unique wine blends, a nine mile stretch of sand and beautiful waters, and a place where, if you do not have a cup of mate tea in one hand and a hot water thermos in the other, well then you are not from URUGUAY. 
Here is a panorama shot of the boardwalk that lines the entire coastline and city
My friend Ozie and I ventured across the border of Chile, right over Argentina (because ain't nobody got time to pay for the $160 reciprocity fee Americans have to hand over when they enter the country) into the land of the little known Uruguay. Because remember- I am the child who books plane tickets to places I know nothing about. What did I learn? I'm glad I didn't study abroad there- because I would have had the strongest accent I have heard thus far- but I am happy that I visited because the weather was WAY better than it would have been in Santiago (ie: it's starting to get colder and I have just not been able to get used to this whole 'there's no heat in the house' thing). AND good food, wine and ice cream are three things that I am happy to enjoy in any country(: You can't really compare Santiago to Montevideo because there are too many differences, but I will say that Montevideo was better kept (like the buildings were well maintained and appeared nicer than the building and streets of Chile), obviously it was on the beach and I will also note that the architecture there was much more sophisticated and nice to look at. 
Photo creds go to Ozie
The people there were friendly in the sense that people were always interested in talking to Ozie and I, making us feel welcome, making sure we like Uruguay and they were just generally interested in learning more about us as people. While Chileans have a bad habit of staring and trying to figure out someone's story or background, Uruguayans were open about their curiosity. At virtually all of the restaurants we went to, we ended up making conversation with either the waiters or the people surrounding us (in fact at one restaurant the waiters took turns coming to our table just so they could talk to us lol). They wanted to know why we were there, why we were studying spanish, what we thought of Uruguay and where we were from in the states. 
A cute little whole in the wall we found after we checked the prices to eat at the Mercado del Puerto...yeah steak is not worth $35
People told us about the problems Uruguay has been having with jobs, unequal education and the amount of immigrants that come due to the depreciated worth of Uruguayn pesos (so they can pay back loans, etc. in their country faster). It was nice to feel welcome and not like a blatant foreigner that gets stared at day after day on the streets of Chile. Anywho- enough hating on Chile, because let me tell you, there were definitely things that I missed! For one thing- their bread was just not good. It was weird, dry and NOT FRESH (I have been so spoiled in Chile and I may just lose a part of my soul when I return to the states and inevitably end up buying pre-packaged bread...because even though I say now that I want to make my own bread forever more, everyone knows that just ain't realistic). I just can't even think of how I could describe it- it was flaky, but not buttery like a croissant, it came in a cube shape that you peeled apart and it was dry, white and just nothing in comparison to what I am used to. And no that I realize that google can't help me out on this one I regret not taking a picture of this stupid bread! 
You can look at our selfie instead(;
Lemme just recap the food situation as a whole real quick so I don't spend too much time on it..cause you know how I do. The lineup went a little something like this- baby beef steak
(still not sure which part exactly this is but it was good, and I can only pray that it really wasn't a baby animal..),
Brotola and Bachetta (types of white fish- the Bachetta was cooked whole and served with the head (how's that for adventure!), 
This was the Bachetta...mmm
chocolate lava cake with passionfruit ice cream (I have a newfound love for passionfruit flavored things- Chobani does good, but this ice cream may win), Entrecot (another steak, filet type thing), Media y Medias (half wine, half champagne),
 lots of pumpkin, Tannat Uruguayan wine (Daddy- a case for my birthday please!), 
and SO MUCH ICE CREAM- per usual(; Honorable mentions go to: Banana Split (my favorite South American flavor thus far that consists of banana ice cream, dulce de leche and chocolate chips),  Maracuya (passionfruit), and Caf√© (it's so hard to find coffee ice cream here!). 
Shameless Selfie- I got three flavors the last night..because YOLO
The first day we took a tour of Punta al Este, Uruguay, a mere two hour drive in a tourist bus full of middle aged Brazilians, a peppy tour guide, Ozie and I. The tour included stops at Piri√°polis (a cute little town with a cool chair lift thing that gave you a panaramic view of the hill overlooking the beach)
A stop at the Museo Ralli that was filled with quirky art and was constructed by hand (no straight walls, lines, schematics, etc.)
Also by Ozie
And lastly to the weird but cool sculpture of a hand in the sand on the beach
It was a nice tour and although we were the only youngins' the history was interesting and it was nice to get out of Montevideo for the day because honestly there wasn't that much to do there anyways. We passed most of our time walking around and exploring, eating, checking out the market and taking pictures of the plazas and statues. 
So...Ozie and I thought we had struck gold when we had the four person mixed dorm room at the hostal to ourselves for the first two nights. For nineteen US dollars a night a bunkbed filled room to ourselves seemed like a steal. Even though the breakfast was just that weird bread, butter, jam, cereal, "yogurt" (In South America yogurt is more like slightly thicker milk with tons of sugar and a fruit flavoring), and on some days there was fruit- yeah this is your typical hostal breakfast, because in reality South America doesn't do breakfast. they just don't- its a tragedy really. So back to the story...let's start with night #3: the adventure of Saturday night/Sunday morning. Ozie and I made plans to do the South American style club, bar hopping thing. We planned to leave the hostal at midnight and hit up some bars and then head to the clubs afterwards because that's just how they do here. PARTY ALL NIGHT. In the midst of this master plan we encountered a slight bump in the road. We discovered that we had roommates. Cute boy roommates no less(; Miraculously (and with no help from my less than perfect spanish) Ozie and I coaxed our new friends to accompany us. Eric and Nicolas shared a beer while Ozie and I opted to try out a typical Uruguayan liquor- Uvita (it was sweet, but strong, served on the rocks and it had an aftertaste of honey, which I guess is a good thing). Eric was a Mexican geography student that was studying abroad at the time in Buenos Aires- where he met Nicolas, an English (from England) med student who took a year off during his schooling (apparently that's a thing there!). They were great and it was nice to have some new faces, practice my spanish and get to know other people from all over the world.
Our next stop was the club- alright grandparents- I'm sorry now but I am sparing no details- we went to a gay bar. Not on purpose, but let's be real- even when we found out, with the great music there was no reason to leave. That is- there was no reason to leave until Eric lost his phone, Ozie and I traded our roommates for new (straight- yes there were straight guys there...) dance partners and after we danced for about an hour or so- we found out that for some reason you had to pay TO LEAVE. I guess that's what happens when there is no cover..anywho. Ozie and I peaced out and left Eric (with Nicolas of course!) to attempt to find his phone (there was no hope and we were hungry). We proceeded to get in a cab, got dropped off at the local street vendor, ate our choripan (chorizo hot dog type thing), walked home (the streets are safe and we were only 3 blocks away so please stop worrying) and passed out in our lovely bunk beds. 
The park we passed through on Sunday
Unfortunately our luck ran out, dried up or perhaps got stolen by a leprechaun because the fourth night was painful. Our Colombia roommates were so sweet- a young couple passing thru Uruguay just like so many others. However their disposition did not dictate their sleeping habits (or should I say horrors). This man snored like a rhinoceros (maybe they snore, maybe not). I have never heard anything like this- not even you dad! It was just about as loud as me putting my headphones in and turning up the volume all the way. Yeah, I was not having any of it. At 4:30am I proceeded to leave the room and sleep in the lobby where the person at the desk was already setting up for breakfast. Although there was light and it wasn't the best set-up I fell asleep and slept away the angry sentiments I had towards this guy. Especially when the cute guy that works at the hostal came over and put a blanket over me....
We spent the last day bike riding along the 9 mile 'rambla' // boardwalk to one of the famous Montevidean beaches named Pocitos. Then we headed to a Tango show where we learned that Tango is not only dancing, a big part of it is music. So therefore we enjoyed the live performance of some great vocalists along with the chance to people watch the elderly community of Montevideo because apparently the tango club is where they spend their sunday nights(;
The females do all the work in the Tango! So many complicated leg raises and such
The lady at the front set us in the front row along with some friendly regulars who chatted to us about Uruguay and made cute small talk (how can you resist the charm of old people really). Although I will say the older women here do try to rock the blue eyeshadow...
Like I said before, we ended our four day journey off right with a steak, good wine and my triple ice cream cone(:

Until next time Uruguay!

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