Party Like it's 1989

Trip Start Jan 15, 2006
Trip End Sep 05, 2006

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Flag of Uruguay  ,
Sunday, March 5, 2006

We are currently in Punta del Este, the famed summer playground for the young, rich and beautiful from Argentina, Brazil and Chile. (Think about a cross between Miami Beach and the Hamptons.) Kia and I would like to think of ourselves as young and beautiful (this is much easier for her) and by local standards we are fairly rich. We decided that we should see what this party town has to offer.

When we did our reconnaissance, we were told that the beautiful people did not arrive in the bars until at least midnight and then spent a couple of hours on libations before visiting the local discos. (It sounds tiring to be beautiful.) Your fearless correspondents were undaunted. We booked our dinner reservation for 10, scouted the bars and learned the location of the disco favored by the 'older' crowd. I later determined that older meant that a few of them were born before some of my favorite music was written. We then retired for an afternoon nap.

As we were getting ready, I started to hum the famous Prince song (written when he was still known as Prince) about partying in the new millenium. Kia reminded me that it had probably been closer to 20 years since I had kept going until 4am. I adjusted the lyrics to '1989' and continued my melodic preparations undaunted by my advanced chronology.

We had a wonderful time. We had an elegant dinner, consumed some strange libations and danced until about 4 in the morning. They locals did not lie. The bars were empty at midnight and hopping at 3am. Evidently, this is off-season. In January and February, nobody is allowed to go to bed before sunrise. We were glad for the reprieve.

Uruguay has been a very interesting country. Colonia and Punta del Este have been scenic and very cultured. (We later learned that Colonia is a Unesco world heritage sight.) Montevideo, the capital, however, is not particularly appealing. Our hotel and most of the town felt a bit shabby. The acclaimed 'best restaurant in town', was pretty mediocre. I am guessing that few of the vacationers in Punta come from Montevideo (or likely Uruguay). If they were from Montevideo, I assume they would demand the same culture and restaurants that they get on vacation.

The diet in all three countries we have visited has been tasty but flies in the face of current US thinking. Argentines seem to eat red meat for dinner every evening. Whole grain is very rare. they don't do many salads. If you can find 'skim' milk (not often) it still has about a 2% fat content. The best part is the French fries. They taste divine . I assume they are fried in animal fat.

Why have we stopped using animal fat? One plateful of fries and you will never argue that there is not a major difference in taste. (Even Mcdonald's seems to do it down here.) Who made this decision for us? Was it a few ascetic food-nazis who survive on a diet of wheat germ, alfalfa sprouts and tree bark? Did they threaten the food industry with legions of greedy trial lawyers? Is this for heart disease or is it to prevent the obese from becoming more so? Free my French fries!

Despite all of these dietary sins (and copious alcohol consumption), there seems to be very low rates of obesity in these countries. We have seen a few beer bellies on older men, but just about everyone else tends to be pretty trim. I guess we can't blame our epidemic on genetics or the types of food we are served. Too many of us just put too much on our plates. (The restaurants and food companies also cannot be fingered. They are just responding to customer demand. They wouldn't increase portion size unless the customer was willing to pay more or buy more often.)

We are not going to watch the Oscars tonight. Uruguay is three time zones ahead of NY (check a map) so the show wouldn't start until 11:30. I did manage to get a hotel in Chile to search the far reaches of their satellite dish so I could watch the Super Bowl broadcast in Spanish. It once again proved that announcers are superfluous. Our only other US culture has been a copy of the Economist I managed to pick up in BA. We have each read it twice.

Tomorrow we are visiting a friend of Kia who recently bought a nearby farm. I am sure he will have some interesting insights.
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