A Travellerspoint blog


Dollars vs. Pesos

The $115 burrito!

Imagine landing in Uruguay and going out for your first meal; $170 salad, $115 burrito and a $80 ice cream dessert... can you say sticker shock?!

Little did we know that the all mighty dollar sign ($) is actually the all mighty dollar OR peso sign! Needless to say, this caused a bit of confusion at first. After an interesting read on Wikipedia about the origin of the dollar sign, it was a humbling reminder that we aren’t actually the center of the universe…

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 07:21 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

Biking for Grappa

Uruguay is not as famous as Argentina for its wine, but it does produce yummy wine and grappa. We found a local winery called Bodega Bernardi just 12 km outside of town and rented some bikes to get out there for some wine and grappa. This place was a super old winery and still has some of the original 1892 equipment. We had the place to ourselves with such a nice lady and more than enough grappa.

Then just a few kilometer’s down the road we found a farm with fresh jams, cheeses and the World’s Largest Pencil collection +1 (we stopped by the store to pick up another pencil for him)! Emilio and his wife were such gracious hosts, walking us through their home to show us their private collections and as it turns out, Emilo and his son also collect key chains, perfume bottles, ash trays, and other miscellaneous items. With the “Hoarders” show ringing in our heads, it made us appreciate our minimalist approach to getting rid of our stuff before traveling. **Note: Robin is no longer collecting frogs.

Neither of us are that big into American football (in Latin America you need to always specify “American” or else football = soccer), but since the 49ers were in it and a few folks in the hostel had never seen the Super Bowl, we thought it might be kinda fun to watch. So we got some local brews, cooked up some Uruguayan delights (carne milanesa and faina) and asked our hostel to put on the game. Sadly, our Spanish coverage on ESPN was in Spanish and did not have the coveted commercials, but no fear, we were able to stream them online in real time!!

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 05:50 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

Mate in, Uruguay

Mate Mate Mate!


The legal Marijuana market is nowhere near as big as the other green market in Uruguay. . . Mate! However, at the rate that people here drink mate, we are beginning to wonder if Caa Yari (goddess of mate grass) is adding a little something more than just strong caffeine in the Uruguayan’s favorite drink.

Mate is a tea like drink, that to some could say that it tastes a lot like it has been made with dirt, twigs, and common grass. It is definitely an acquired taste, and locals of Uruguay seem to never leave home without it. Everywhere we went, people were holding a big thermos full of hot water under one arm and a small round mug filled with mate leaves and a long metal straw (bombilla) in their hand, it is definitely a most awkward setup to carry around all day, so some hard core folks have upgraded to the massive water/cup combo!

Since it’s more of a ritual to people here, you can’t just drink it out of any cup. One needs a fancy cup that is typically made out of a gourd or something wooden, but since they are usually not able to stand up by themselves, they come with a fancy little metal stand… but as you can see, there are many different options to suite your fancy:

Some potential issues we see with being addicted to mate:
1. one arm could become significantly out of balance form the other while carrying around a huge thermos in a tight headlock-like grip
2. half of your day could be spent in search of more hot water
3. your breath has a high risk of smelling like dirt and twigs
4. your lips could either blister badly or grow a huge callus from sipping boiling water out of a highly conductive metal straw
5. you need literally a full cup per serving so you’ll likely need to buy mucho mucho kilos!

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 13:23 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

Montevideo, Uruguay

Sumer Fest!

Montevideo claims to be the longest running carnival festival in the world, running 6 weeks of theater shows and parades of which some don’t come on stage until after 2am!

There were events to attend every day from music on the beach to watching the five competitive group categories of Carnaval in amphitheaters. Our favorite category was Murga because we had trouble following the story lines and jokes of the other categories since they habla en espanol y muy rapido!

Then big attraction we came to see was Desfile de Llamadas which is a parade of Candombe drumming that takes place on calle Isla de Flores, in Barrio Sur, the barrio of the African-Uruguayan population. The African drum influence is what makes Montevideo’s Carnaval celebration unique, and makes for some spectacular drum-off’s where groups sort of “call” each other out.

It just so happened that we were staying in a hostel a few blocks away from the biggest water festival of the year, Festa de Iemanjá, a celebration of 'Goddess of the Sea and Mother of the Waters'. Although a very meaningful ceremony for the locals, it was hard to watch so many Styrofoam boats filled with burning candles and watermelons be pushed off into the waves only to be broken apart and washed ashore minutes later. Perhaps the wind and waves picked up that night by the water goddess showing her dismay of the environmental destruction caused by this religious ceremony.

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 06:26 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

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