Trip Start Jan 2003
Trip End Dec 2003

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Flag of Uruguay  ,
Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Day 271 - 272 - Montevideo

Two more days in uruguay's capital and while it lacks any 'must-sees' or 'must-dos', it's inexpensive shopping has kept us entertained. Perhaps too well entertained. It may only be October but the life of a backpacker necessitates early purchasing of Christmas presents. Unfortunately the Uruguayan Postal Service have had the audacity to go on an indefinite strike (although no-one has seemed to notice) and the only way to prevent the carriage of excess baggage in the form of useless items has been to succumb to the extortionate world of DHL. On the positive side, at least this parcel might actually make it home.

montevideo was probably in its prime thirty or forty years ago. While many buildings, particularly in the Ciudad Vieja (Old Town) maintain their charm, their protection and restoration seem low on the list of priorities. Newer buildings have not been constructed with thoughts about their appearance and the central square is dominates by two opposites. on one side stands an early 20th Century palace which until fairly recently was the tallest building in the continent and on the other is a 1970's office block whose unattractiveness will never be overstated. The Ciudad Vieja lacks the more modern monstrosities and sonsequently draws more (although very limited) visitors. the area is currently undergoing a face-lift of some sorts however and gorgeous restaurants and artesan markets share street space with Montevideo's poor. The former even close at 17:00 because of a fear of the latter.

It's been difficult to make sense of the fact that Montevideo is not part of Argentina because the similarities are so strong. Indeed to describe our time in Uruguay I would say it's "Argentina's little brother". I deliberated for a while over which metaphorical gender a country should take but then decided that any country that eats more red meat per head than Argentina had to be masculine!
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