Mate, lots of it!

Trip Start Apr 05, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Uruguay  ,
Friday, November 12, 2010

We split up from the French couple, who were going to a hostel together with a creepy Belgian guy we met on the bus, and we head to our CouchSurfing host in Montevideo, Alejandra. A very sweet and gentle girl, that was also in Cusco when I was there, Amit met here but I didn't, still, funny fact. She had her birthday this weekend, and invited us for lunch to celebrate it with her friends. So great, this is definitely the added value of CS, you really get taken into the world of people living there, I have to say again and again how great this is.

When arriving in Montevideo, James and I looked a little lost, but for the 2 times we looked up to find streetsigns, within 5 seconds somebody walked up to us and asked if we need help. Montevideo, you impressed me!Also at night children were playing in the streets, which made us feel very safe.
One night we went out to watch the beautiful sunset, while our host was taking a nap. After the sunset we headed to the supermercado to buy some things to surprise our host the next morning with her birthday.

The question I get most often on the road, next to what I think of the asker's country, is if anything bad ever happened to me while traveling, and if I feel unsafe often. Funny thing is that everybody considers the other countries more unsafe than their own.

Honestly, no, I feel safe, I feel like I am gaging all the time. The only moment I felt unsafe was maybe in Puno, Peru, when I was walking home. But then I wear my hoody with my head down, so people don't see I am a gringo. I probably had no reason to feel like that, but I just did and trusted my instinct there. And I am also careful in places where I hear many warnings about, of course.
Then again, our neighborhood in Montevideo was about the safest feeling as it could get.
But, when we arrived to the apartment after the sunset ans supermarket, the window of the door was broken. Walking up, I noticed blood on the walls. And then I saw it on every door we passed, a handprint of blood. Like a horror-scene. What had happened here??? Was somebody wounded??? Did somebody need help?

We walked up to the 3rd floor, and noticed also blood on the door of our host. Luckily we had locked the door (of course, but still, luckily), and she was still sleeping.So what had happened?
When Alejandra woke up she asked the others in the apartment, all being in the hallway talking about the events. The story is that a junkie was running from the police, jumped the fence to the 'safety cage' of the building, used his motorcycle helmet to break the glass of the second, and then ran up the stairs knocking on all doors trying to get in, bleeding heavenly apparently. I don't know if this is the true story, but this is what the people were telling each other. LUCKILY all doors were locked and nobody opened the door and the police snatched him.Scary!! And the first time something like this ever happens here. Things can just happen everywhere, anytime.Good we didn't come home straight after the sunset... Thank god our host had her birthday the next day.
So anyways, our general impression of these days were very very good, so I don't want to close off this blog entry with this story, as it would give a distorted vibe of how Montevideo was for me.Let me tell you the oddest sight here... Very very remarkable.Do you know mate? The drink highly popular in Argentina? They fill a brown round wooden cup with green herbs, and fill it with hot water, and have a special metal straw with a built-in strainer at the bottom, to drink it while hot. Well, here in Uruguay, this is all present in the streets. And with all-present I do mean all-present. Almost EVERYBODY is carrying a thermos and one of those cups under the arm at ALL times. Everywhere! Anytime! It makes the funniest sights.Business man, young girls, skaterboys, everybody, has under the arm a thermos and this cup. Above of this, the rule is they have to carry both in 1 arm. This makes the sight even more distinct, everyone having 1 arm bent in 90 degrees, having the thermos squeezed by the elbow, and the cup in the hand of that arm.A unique sight for Montevideo.

We had a great time, enjoying boardwalk walks, a photo-exhibition in the park, pedaling boats, delicious empanadas (the perfect snack!) and great company.
A funny anekdote about empanadas, if you order them, they are simply stuffed dough, so they have 'codes' to recognise which one has which filling, very smart and handy! (see picture)

So with this, James and I embark on the boat to Buenos Aires!
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