Things That I Have Learned in Montevideo, Uruguay

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Things I Have Learned in Montevideo, Uruguay

“Montevideo is like Buenos Aires without the LA vibe.” Anthony Bourdain

Over half of the country’s 3.3 million people live in the capital, Montevideo.

Montevideo is not a city for vegetarians. Salads are few and far between. (translation-Did  we make a barbecue today?)

The chivito is Uruguay’s classic sandwich.  Chivo means “goat” in Spanish so it means baby goat but the sandwich is made with steak, ham, cheese, and sometimes other ingredients, like lettuce, tomato, and fried egg. We had a scaled down version.

Walk past any small eatery in Montevideo  you’ll see two, three, even four people sharing a single sandwich.

Jacinto, open since 2012, is a much talked-about eatery led by Lucía Soria, an Argentine chef who trained under renowned chef and restaurateur Francis Mallmann before moving to Uruguay. Her restaurant is just off Plaza Zabala  (near our hotel) in the historic heart of the city, She invents fresh and modern versions of old Uruguayan classic dishes,

The Carnaval Museum is located in the Old Town. it was free on the Sunday that I was there.

I loved the display of old carnaval photos, the music and especially the amazing costumes.

Uruguayans hold the democratic process very highly. They remember the years of dictatorship and the upcoming election is very important.

Everyone is out supporting their candidates and trying to get your vote. It is inspiring to see.

.La Rambla is the longest continuous sidewalk in the world on the banks of the Rio De  La Plata. Joggers, cyclists and families are out enjoying the view. 

One of the popular tourist attractions in Montevideo is the classic sign on La Rambla.

We stayed  in the  Ciudad Vieja or the Old Town  at the Alma Historica Boutique Hotel. All the rooms are different.

We were in the Torres Garcia room  which  of course led us to his museum. The hotel is cool and staff is very helpful.

Joaquin Torres Garcia is  perhaps Uruguay’s most famous artist, despite spending most of his life abroad in France and Spain.

García created curious portraits of historical icons such as Beethoven, Da Vinci and Dostoyevsky as well as cubist paintings similar to those of Picasso. The gift store is a good place for souvenirs.,

 Jose Gurevich was born in Lithuania 1927 and moved to Uruguay when he was four years old. He was a well-renowned painter, muralist and sculptor who died at the very young age of forty seven. His museum features drawings from his life in Lithuania as well as Uruguay.

The main area of the Ciudad Vieja is the Plaza Independencia. General Artigas lead Uruguay to independence. His  mausoleum is built under the square and directly below a huge iron statue of him riding a horse. It’s a really cool, unexpected mausoleum. Uruguayans know how to commemorate their independence struggle and heroes.

 Architectural landmarks include the stunning Palacio Salvo, a towering masterpiece by the Italian architect Mario Palanti. The Art Deco facade may look vaguely familiar if you’ve done any sightseeing in Buenos Aires. That’s because Palacio Salvo is the graceful sister of Palacio Barolo, his other best-known work,

The Teatro Solis, yet another impressive example of Montevideo’s architecture. Built in 1856, the theater was renovated from 1998-2004, when it was reopened to the public. The theater is recognized globally for its phenomenal acoustics,

The Palacio Legislativo  (the Parliament) is a huge imposing neoclassical building overlooking the city.

Mercado Agricultura de Montevideo (MAM)  is a working market in a beautiful early twentieth century building.

There is plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and beef.

One thing you notice in Montevideo is that people are obsessively drinking yerba mate.They all have thermoses or that beautiful mate cup with a silver straw  (bombilla) which is sold all over Uruguay. You can find bags of  many varieties  of yerba  mate in the market. Finding yerba mate to try in a cafe is difficult. Yerba mate  is  bitter and an acquired  taste.  I  had already had it in Argentina and bought the mate cup  and yerba  mate there. It seemed like  if I wanted some in Montevideo, I was going to have to get someone to share theirs  with me.

Soledad was our wonderful guide in Uruguay. She is  knowledgeable, smart, funny and can change plans when needed. She was also very helpful with getting the necessary bandages for my finger  and she was right. It was exactly what the doctor told me when I got home.and have to do for the next few months. 

Fly safe,

JAZ

Bad Luck In South America

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 Bad Luck in South America

“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.” Cormac McCarthy

I am a believer in good luck charms when you travel. I never get on a plane without one. There’s a fine line between a bit of harmless (and possibly helpful) superstitious behavior for luck, and developing an obsessive and crippling dependence on some elaborate routine.

I woke up five hours into my flight to Montevideo, Uruguay and realized my necklace was hanging open on my neck without the charm. I couldn’t find it anywhere. It felt like a  punch in my gut. Flying had always gone remarkably smoothly and I always fly with a symbol that luck was on my side.

A few days later in Punta Del Este, Uruguay, I broke my travel mirror which means seven years of bad luck to those of us who believe in such things. I sat down to tie my shoes and fell off the stool causing my finger to hit a table and bend backwards. Year one was not starting well.The next day it hurt and was swelling up. I could move it and it was not that bruised so  we taped my two fingers together and I got on a plane. it was noticeably  swollen when I got off. ”Do you want to go to the hospital?,” asked the receptionist at the hotel in Sao Paulo when she saw it.  Ice and tape seemed to be helping.

Now, I know that the concept of luck is all in your head, but this situation left me wondering where my luck had gone. It was no surprise that i left a bottle of my favorite moisturizer in Punta Del Este. I was expecting things  like this now.

In Salvador, Bahia I dropped my coke on the floor and it spilled out. “That’s bad luck” said  Julia our guide. I explained that I already had it.”Well,” she said, “It’s your third bad thing so now it is done.”

 I was not so sure. I needed some good luck – a new talisman. A talisman is a something that brings good luck.

On Sunday Oct 13 while I was in Salvador, María Rita de Souza Brito Lopes Pontes, known as “Irma Dulce” born in Salvador, ,Bahia, and considered to be Brazil’s answer to Mother Teresa  became the first woman born in Brazil to be declared a saint.  Everyone is Salvador was celebrating. It was the perfect day to change my luck.

The Church of Bonfim is possibly the most famous place of worship in all of Brazil. The simple white edifice has long been the juncture of Catholicism and the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé traditions.

Outside the church and all over Salvador, people sell multicolored ribbons with ‘Lembrança do Senhor do Bonfim da Bahia’ written on them, which are often seen tied to railings in front of churches dancing in the breeze.

Each color represents a different Candomblé god, and they are thought to bring luck. Our guide Julia negotiated  the price. The first man selling ribbons was charging double.

I made some important wishes and tied a few to the church.

For a bit of money, I receive a blessing from a Candoble priest. I definitely felt lighter.

The rest of the ribbons I kept with me and tied them to my purse. We would be flying on a very small plane in a few days.

In the Pantanal I broke a bottle of makeup all over the floor and fought with loud, arrogant, racist Trump supporters which definitely affected our time there.

I did not hang enough ribbons for the small stuff.

I bought some figas in Sao Paulo.  – a large one for my house and few smaller ones for gifts. Figas are Brazilian good luck charms. They are amulets- protection from evil. As you can see, i believe in all countries  and all religious  symbols of luck.

Good luck charms feed the human need to look beyond ourselves for solutions to our difficulties, while still encouraging us to do our best. When things are tough, it feels good to hold a charm in your hand and hope for things to get better.

 Even with all the mishaps and torn ligament, this was one of my best trips. It still doesn’t change my feeling about good luck charms. i will always carry that lucky coin or wear  my lucky socks on a plane because you can never have too much good luck.

Fly safe,

JAZ