I expected a little bit of an overlap between Uruguay and Brazil in the same way that we get overlaps in Europe, like Catalonia and the Basque region straddling France and Spain, or the French language creeping over the border into Switzlerland. But no, Uruguay is unique from it’s Northern neighbour and perhaps even its Spanish cousins too.
We arrived to a sleepy early morning San Carlos which is a small town within reach of the northern Uruguayan beaches. People were cradling what looked like marijuana filled bowls and flasks whilst they beetled off to work, or to the shops, to get whatever Uruguayans get at 7am on a Saturday morning. The bowls were filled with Matte, a kind of super strength green tea that keeps you awake and suppresses the appetite apparently. I’m guessing it’s a progression from the coca and lime chewing that the Indians do and have bought one to check it out, I start my new addiction tomorrow.
Uruguayan people seemed almost retarded in the early morning, politely nodding but few smiles, drawn in by the cold. But after a few days of being here the subtlety of these wonderful people started to shine through – men would wait patiently at bus stops for elderly people or women to find seats first, we had people tilt hats and offer us a good appetite when we were merely eating a banana. This place grows on you.
We moved on quickly from San Carlos and went on to meet someone I had met through our mutual blogs.
Andy has bought a house near Atlantida and lives with his lovely lady Mili and adopted son on a small farm he has bought. Andy kindly offered to put us up and we were glad we took him up on his offer. Yet again we were treated with utmost kindness. I’ll let Andy introduce himself here http://perpetual-traveller.blogspot.com. It was good to get Andy’s perspective on his surroundings, to be shown around the area and to just soak up the quiet of the rural location they live in. It would be nice to be there now sipping a beer around the barbecue looking at the sun going down.
Andy has been brave enough to buy a house in a country where not too many British people have escaped too yet, but having spent a week here we are starting to understand why. It’s safer than it’s larger neighbours, house and land prices can be low and there are tax reasons too as there is at the moment no income tax, the only tax being on goods and services. However the tax situation is said to be changing with countries like the U.S. bullying Uruguay into a change of it’s system, I hope the country isn’t changed too much by this as consumerism seems to be kept at bay by the fact that it is more economical for people to look after what they have got as new imported goods are taxed so much.
We stayed three days at Andy and Mili’s and are now in the small chocolate box pretty town of Colonia that sits opposite Buenos Aires on the banks of the Rio del Plata.