Saturday, March 23, 2013

Soy celeste, celeste soy yo!

Now you might be wondering why I am claiming to be skyblue (soy celeste = I’m skyblue). First off, let me assure you it has nothing to do with being blue. In fact it is one of the most popular chants you hear when attending a match of the Uruguayan soccer team. It refers to the color of their jerseys - celestial blue. 

AItogether, I spent a very soccer oriented day yesterday. Initially I just planned on attending the FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifying match between Uruguay and Paraguay in the evening. But then Pablo took me to university to hand in my course enrollment paper at the international office, and since I planned on meeting some people at the University entrance in order to go to the stadium together, we had some time to kill until then.

 photo DSC_0176_zpsd80d85cc.jpg
Goofing around

Now since some sort of museum place of Pablo’s favored team “Club Nacional de Futból” (short: Nacional) is located just down the street from the university, he decided I should check that out. Turns out it was the club’s “hall of Fame”  with lots of trophies that Nacional had won during their existence. And by lots I mean like a quadrillion. Or maybe even more.  And they had won them in all sizes and shapes. There were some pretty huge ones that could actually pass as baptismal fonts and also some teeny tiny ones. One of the latter was my favorite. It was called the “Teresa Herrera” trophy and I do not know what it was for or anything but amongst others it had FC Bayern’s logo on it. Which made it pretty awesome.

 photo DSC_0158_zps265cc90d.jpg
FC Bayern!

 photo DSC_0169_zps77afbbc2.jpg
Business idea: 
Let hardcore fans baptize their little ones in one of thos giant cups in the background!

The whole hall was lined with pictures of more or less famous players. None of which looked familiar to me. And there were also some other artifacts and important things  like old footballs that probably still had dirt from the 1930s on them. And more trophies. I kind of liked the colorful vase-trohpy-things.

 photo DSC_0173_zps1d181d3b.jpg
Cute and colorful cup!

After that we went to Nacional’s stadium which was just around the corner. And of course it was closed. But again Pablo played the “but she’s German and needs to see this place”-card and of course we got in. And we were the only ones there so we had a whole stadium for ourselves which was actually kind of cool.

 photo DSC_0185_zps7afe18d4.jpg
Hello, and welcome to my very own stadium!

 photo DSC_0191_zps62a5b273.jpg
Watching imaginary soccer games

 photo DSC_0208_zps5effbe9f.jpg
Some more goofing around

After visiting the stadium we went back to the university where I joined the exchange students and some others to go to the Estadio Centenario while Pablo went back to doing important stuff. Saving the world and all that. Haha. Just kidding he probably just went on skype and facebook because I think that’s what he does for a living.

After a short walk our group arrived at the stadium which was still pretty empty. But it quickly got busier. Though not entirely packed because as Agustin told us they normally paused their regular soccer season for international games but not for this one. So there’s gonna be other games this weekend which is why not as many came to see this match. Though it wasn’t empty at all and if it had been a stadium of the size of the “Allianz Arena” in Munich, it would have probably been packed. So I’d say it was well-attended after all.

 photo DSC_0211_zpsc4327f1a.jpg
Group picture!

As customary, the game started out with the national anthems. First up, Paraguay. Whose anthem kind of sounded like the music in old Disney movies. Which I find is not a bad thing at all. After that it was Uruguay’s turn to show us some tunes and I liked that one as well. And I also like the atmosphere at a sporting event when everyone is singing their anthem from their heart.

 photo DSC_0251_zpse1680eab.jpg
See that spark in Agustin's eyes when he was singin the anthem? 
(Ok, maybe it's just the evening sun but I think it captures the mood quite well)

Then the game started and I gotta admit the first half was not very spectacular. Those Paraguayan wuzzes needed them paramedics quite often. Which is not to say that the Uruguayans played too aggressive because they didn’t.

 photo DSC_0267_zps1e8f7e0a.jpg
Unfortunately no goal here...

After a rather eventless first half, Sebastian and I set out to get some food during the break. Normally I guess that wouldn’t be such an impossible task. Even if you don’t go to the concession stand right away but rather wait a bit so we wouldn’t have to wait in line as long. Anyway, close to the end of the break I got in line for some Chorizos which is some sort of sausage in a bun. And even though there were a lot of people who wanted to get food it didn’t take me very long to get to the front. Because the second half was about to start, Sebastian went back to watch it and I thought I’d get some food and join him again soon. BUT we are in Uruguay and clocks tick a lot slower here. I soon found out that the problem was the lady who prepared the sausages. Instead of putting many on the grill she prepared them all individually. Now anyone who has taken a logistics class – and probably everyone else as well for that matter – knows that this is not the most effective way to satisfy a crowd of hungry people. And it wasn’t. Many of the people in line left as more and more time passed. I didn’t because I was very hungry and so close to getting food. But said food-lady didn’t feel the need to hurry at all. And really who am I to blame her. But then after she gave the guy next to me his chorizo – and my hopes of getting food soon went up – she decided she would not give out any more food for the day and left me annoyed and hungry. I really wouldn’t have minded the waiting. After all I have people waiting on me all the time. But Not giving me food when there obviously still was some left is just plain unacceptable. And if you are wasting my time because I could have been watching soccer instead of waiting for nothing that’s even worse.

So naturally I wasn’t very happy when I got back to the others but I soon forgot about it because soccer is a really good distraction. Now this half – or what was left of it for that matter – seemed to be quite uneventful at first like the previous one. My friend Agustin looked quite tense because of course we all expected Uruguay to win this game. And then after half an hour the relief: Uruguay scored the 1:0!

Pure joy swept the stadium and left us in a very ecstatic crowd. People were singing and screaming and waving their flags. I was happy again and almost forgot about the chorizos I didn’t get to eat. But then after a couple minutes the big frustration happened. Paraguay scored and it was now a tie. What a bummer.

The last couple minutes we desperately hoped for another goal for Uruguay but we got disappointed. There were no more goals in that game and a tie as the final result. Not what we were hoping for and definitely not a good result because in my opinion Uruguay was the better team and would have deserved to win. But you can’t always get what you want. That night I got none of the things I wanted. And I really only asked for a Chorizo and a Uruguayan victory.

 But I guess I’m just too spoiled because usually life is pretty good around here. I am about to leave for a week of vacation because it’s Semana Santa (=easter break) so on that note I am signing off for a week.

Happy Easter to all of you! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mate on Monday

This past Monday, I finally tried Mate for the first time.

But let’s start at the beginning.

I visited a class last week that I thought might be interesting and as it turned out it was a seminar that took place every night from 7-10pm for one week. As I had already missed one night and the seminar takes place again this week, I decided to come back on Monday. Same time, same place. Or at least that’s what Eloísa (the teacher) told me.

So on Monday I was gonna visit the seminar but when I arrived at the room where it was supposed to be, there was nobody there. I was already late so I figured it might be in a different room. Conveniently, they have  only glass doors at Universidad Católica so I peeked into a couple rooms and tried to see if I could spot Eloísa in one of them. Unfortunately I couldn’t find her so I went to the office and asked for the room number. They told me it was 207 – which was the exact same room where I had initially thought it would be. I told them that there was nobody there and they couldn’t tell me anything that helped me and sent me back there.

Luckily, by that time a guy named Gabriel arrived and wondered where the class was. I told him I had already been to the office and they couldn’t help me out there. So he went to check the rooms once more and I waited. He came back without finding them a little later.

Short time after that another guy from the class arrived and introduced himself as Mauricio. Gabriel informed him about the situation. So now he set out to find the class just like we did before and Gabriel sat down and poured himself some Mate. After some smalltalk he got a call from Mauricio who apparently had found the class. In the building of the nursing school which was down the street. I din’t even know where that was until then. To me it seems quite strange that the University is spread out into several buildings that are not all next to each other. That is because initially it was just the main building and with every expansion the University had to acquire some new property nearby since they can’t add onto the main building.

Anyway we eventually found the class and joined the lesson. It’s mainly group work and I was in a group with Gabriel, Mauricio and three girls that had been there before.

Now what happened to the Mate story? As the title suggests I had my first try of it that night. But first some basic info about the beverage.

From what I have seen, every second person here in Montevideo walks around with Mate equipment. A thermos filled with hot water and a Mate cup with a metal straw that is. The Mate cup is filled to the brim with Mate yerba (I think that’s what the tea leaves are called) and when you want to have a drink you pour some hot water into your cup and then sip it with the help of your metal straw which contains a strainer so the tea leaves stay in the cup. And since everybody here seems to drink Mate 24/7, almost every place sells "agua caliente" (hot water) so people can refill their thermoses.

Another part of the “Mate culture” is to share it with everyone. That means whoever brings his Mate equipment to class offers it to the people that sit around him.

Now it just so happens that one of the girls in my group offered me some Mate. I told her I had never tried it before. What a shocker! Right then, all eyes were on me. Of course I had to try it.

Since almost everybody had told me that no one likes Mate at first try, I figured they were all staring at me in order to see my facial expression upon trial. Pressure was on. Well I had been curious to try it anyway so what the hell. I tried. And I liked it. Big disappointment in the room.

After that, they kept offering me Mate every 5 minutes and of course I also had to try Gabriel’s “blend” because he drinks it stronger and hotter than the girl who first offered me some. They also told me that for example in Paraguay the drink cold Mate. Apparently it’s an art on its own.

So that is the story of how I first tried Mate. And now I have to get me a thermos, a Mate cup and a metal straw, and find out the secrets of Mate-making because I imagine it to be quite nice to have my own Mate during the winter months here. Well not my own because Mate is for sharing. And of course because they sell lots of cute Mate cups on the markets here and it makes a cute souvenir.

And at the end of the story there is the realization that I get more Uruguayan each and every day.  

Losing my German-ness...

Somewhere in Uruguay: Cabo Polonio

My dear readers, I just came back from one of the most enchanting places on earth. And that is probably a huge understatement.

This past Friday I left for a place called Cabo Polonio with some friends of mine – Sebastian H. and Julia from Germany, Alma and Lorena from Mexico and Brianna from the US. We took a bus from Tres Cruces Terminal in Montevideo and spent a couple hours driving through Uruguayan lands until we came to the last bus stop before Cabo Polonio. Not that we didn’t stop directly in Cabo Polonio. Why is that? Because Cabo Polonio is located on the edge of nowhere. No, seriously! They are not connected to public power and water supplies and there is only one telephone connection. So we had a weekend with no electricity and only cold showers ahead of us. Slightly Spartan but extremely relaxing!

First view of Cabo Polonio (Note the solitary transmission line!)

As you can kind of see on the picture above, Cabo Polonio is surrounded by the Atlantic on three sides and by massive sand dunes on the fourth side there is no possibility for a bus to get there. So we got off the bus seven kilometers from Cabo and bought tickets for a jeep that took us the rest of the way. Luckily I snatched a seat on the top of the jeep and had a spectacular first view of Cabo Polonio and the landscape. Definitely worth the bumpy ride!

Lorena, Alma, me and Julia - front row on the top of the jeep!

And just as we arrived in Cabo, the sun came out to greet us. I can’t even find words to describe the beautiful simplicity of this place. There are colorful little cabins everywhere and they are all so small and moderate. The difference to the Western world couldn’t be any more obvious. If I had to describe it I guess I would say that it is some sort of very colorful and individual dropout-hippie-fishermen-tourist village with a very eclectic own personality and charm. But that doesn't completely catch the vibe. 

Arriving in Cabo

Since it was off-season there weren’t many tourists and upon arrival it wasn’t very hard to find a place to stay. Luckily we had the two Mexican girls with us and therefore we found a pretty cheap place to stay. A man who has a house rented it to us for 1000 pesos per night. That’s about $50 USD which is pretty much nothing when you divide it by six people.

Our "mansion"

So after we left our stuff at the house we went strolling on the beach for a while and explored our surroundings. After that of course we were slightly hungry and went for some fooood. Sebastian, Alma, Lorena and I decided to have some Milanesas (=sandwich). I decided I]d like to have a Milanesa con Pescado because we were in a fishing village. And when you’re in a fishing village you eat fish.

After that we went towards the lighthouse where we found lots and lots of rocks to climb on. And let me tell you I could probably climb on rocks for a whole day and not get tired of it. And if adding to that there is an ocean to watch I’m a very happy camper.

On top of the rock

Me and my stone turtle :)

Postcard picture

So after some rock climbing, and taking in the scenery we went back and picked up Brianna and Julia who had eaten at a different place and went home. Now we had a chimney and it was getting slightly cold. There was some firewood so we decided to get a fire going. But that was easier said than done. We only had logs and nothing that would catch fire very fast. But I had brought a notebook with me in case I wanted to sketch something. So we tore out pages of the notebook and used it to ignite our fire. And many pages late we had a cozy little fire going.

Now there really is not much to do at a place with no electricity so we enjoyed some conversations and went to bed quite early. Of course that meant that we woke up pretty early the next day. And that is a good thing because when you’re at a place that is so beautiful you want to enjoy it as much as you can.

Accordingly we got up early the next day and had some breakfast. Toast that Brianna “toasted” in a frying pan that is. Afterwards we went for some Tortas at one of the local restaurants. I had me a very fine torta with dulce de leche and meringue. Dee to the licious!

Now we were all saturated for a little tour and so we left towards the beach. On our way through the village we encountered some horses and ponies that were just walkign around freely. No fence, no rope, no nothing. We also met a little girl who fed the horses and took Julia by the hand to show her how to feed the horses. She was just too darling.

Our little friend with one of the horses

A colorful playground

Boats and reflecting sunlight

We went strolling on the beach for a while, towards a point that seemed to be all rocks and a beautiful view again. When we started it looked pretty close. Something between half an hour and an hour away. But as it turns out we had to walk one and a half to two hours to get there. On the way we “lost” Brianna and Julia who didn’t want to walk as far. And soon Sebastian and I seemed to be the only ones going there. But Alma and Lorena caught up to us in the end and the four of us enjoyed some more rock-climbing and picture-taking and scenery-enjoying.

On the rocks again

Sebastian and I

The way back took us another eternity and when we came back we were pretty starved. So Sebastian and I cooked some Spaghetti with Tomato sauce which we brought to save some money on food. It wasn’t the best lunch but it was edible. Who cares?

After a little while Brianna and Julia came back together with Rose, an American friend of ours who decided to join us for the weekend. A little later the three of them decided to chill at the beach and the rest of us decided on some more exploring.

First we checked out the Artesania market in the town center and then we wanted to spot some seals. To be honest, I was a little bit disappointed because we only saw two living seals and one that was slowly decomposing on a rock.  

Sleepy seal

Buuuuut there were a lot more rocks to climb so that was a good distraction. Adding to that the view of the ocean was great and there were massive waves all around. It was just amazing how strong the waves were crashing against the rocks up front. And yet the stones lay there untouched by that force. What fascinated me was that in between the rocks there were small pools of silent water that was barely moving. The contrast couldn’t be any bigger.

Massive waves against the rocks

Goofing around.... on a rock

After that we decided to visit the lighthouse. So we bought tickets and up the spiral staircase we went. And let me tell you, the view we got at the top was simply breathtaking. Cabo Polonio is such a wonderful and colorful place and no matter how good a camera is you can never capture all its beauty. We were also really lucky because it was sunny and the light reflected on the ocean which offered a very gorgeous view. I wouldn’t have minded staying up there forever but it was so windy that we went back down anyway.

Postcard picture 2.0

Somewhere over there is South Africa...

So when we came back we soon decided our next stop would be a restaurant because exploring makes you hungry. So we had some more fishhh. Well not exactly fish. This time I decided to try some shark. I have never eaten shark before and didn’t really know what to expect. But in the end it tasted just like fish to me. Maybe slightly more chewy.


And then afterwards we were already kind of stuffed but decided to have dessert anyway. So we all split some “Flan de Coco” (some sort of pudding) with Dulce de Leche (everything sweet comes with Dulce de Leche here). No picture of that sweet delicousness though because it was gone in an instant. I kind of felt like a fatty afterwards. A very happy fatty.

And since it gets verrry dark in Cabo Polonio and the lack of electricity kind of implies that there are no street lights we went home after dinner and tried our fire making skills again. After we took some firewood from our landlord/neighbor who hasn’t been there all day. So we pretty much stayed at the cabin for free. Well he came the next day and of course we paid him so it wasn’t really free.

Cabo Polonio at night

This time though, we had some more troubles with the firemaking. As mentioned above we "stole" the logs from our landlord-neighbor because they were lying in front of his own cabin. Now it had rained the night before and I am pretty sure they weren't all dry and good to burn. We managed to get a fire going anyway and at some point Rose decided to toss in a spare roll of toilet paper to expand the fire. Quite a distinct method of firemaking...

Our toilet paper fire

Forward-looking me of course had brought a deck of UNO cards, so we decided to play that for a while. Which was a little complicated because everyone plays this game according to different rules. Can you put a take-4 on a take-2? Can you “throw in” cards with the same color and number? Can you switch cards with someone at zero? So many different opinions! So we really didn’t play it for a long time and switched to plain talking. Which was nice, too.


At around 9.30pm we went outside for a bit for some star gazing. And since, except from the lighthouse, there were only very few and very dim lights in Cabo Polonio, there was nothing that spoiled the reflection of the stars. A few clouds here and there. But it still seemed like we could see every little star there is in the sky. It was just like the place itself – simply beautiful.

After a while though it got a little chilly so we went back inside. I lay down on the couch and fell asleep pretty much in an instant. I actually wanted to go to a bar with Brianna, Julia and Rose that night, but they left without me and since the night was pitch-black I decided to go to bed, instead of searching my way into town. But that wasn’t a bad idea after all because Sebastian and I had decided to visit the sand dunes of Cabo Polonio the next morning. We didn’t really have the chance to see them before and we expected better weather for the next morning. So I called it a night and went to bed. And I fell into a very very deep sleep. Just like the night before when I slept through a storm without noticing any of it, that night I didn’t even hear it when the girls came back from the bar. Not one sound. I really am a deep sleeper.

So the next morning Sebastian and I got up at about 8ish and after some breakfast we set out for the sand dunes. Now I think those are the biggest sand dunes in South America. You can’t really tell on the pictures because pictures make them look a lot smaller. But they were gigantic.

We were really lucky with the weather as well because in spite of some clouds the sky was blue and beautiful. And we took some amazing photos. Most of the ones with me in them look slightly improvised because I got slightly distracted by the scenery around me and just wanted to spin and dance around in the sand. But that’s the beauty of life – Distractions!

The joy of pure being!

Upon our return we had a little second breakfast with the others at the house and because Sebastian got the antsy pants at some point we went to the Artesania market once more and got matching bracelets. That’s right – BFFs! Haha.

Second breakfast

Colorful Artesania stands

After that we were up for some food again because we knew we had a bus ride with no food in front of us. So yes, more food. I decided on some empanadas. Beef, corn and fish. Of course all three of them were delicious but the fish empanadas were definitely my favorite.  After that we headed back to the house, packed our stuff and killed some time. I used that remaining bit of time to sketch my surroundings and enjoy the sun. A bit too much I guess because my nose got a little too pink. But I am convinced that the rest of me actually got tan over the weekend. And everybody who knows my usual paleness probably won’t believe this but I swear there is a difference!

So ultimately we had to get on the jeep that took us away from one of the most beautiful places on earth. Big sob here. But the weather started to get worse anyway and I guess if you have to stay inside with no electricity or distractions, Cabo Polonio really isn’t all that fun.

Back at the Terminal we had to wait on our bus for a little while but there was a random surfer guy playing the guitar and I really didn’t mind listening to him.

Wherever you go in Uruguay... seems like there's always some random guy playing the guitar :)

A little while later we finally got on the bus headed towards Montevideo. I spend most of the time sleeping and gazing at the landscape which in my opinion looks quite similar to the US or maybe even parts of Germany if you ignore the occasional palm trees. While getting closer to Montevideo we also got closer to sundown and I got to watch one of the most incredible sunsets. The sky was full of incredibly strong colors and contrasting clouds. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful weekend.

Adiós, Cabo Polonio! I hope I'll see you again sometime!

Friday, March 15, 2013

EL Club

Sooo.. more partying this weekend. But don’t think I’m only here for the party! I did some serious Spanish learning the two weeks before the semester started and since Monday I am busy visiting classes. More about that in the next blogpost which won’t take as long as this one to be published. Pinky promise!

But anyway! On Saturday I went to the season re-opening of THE Club in Montevideo. Now, how do I know it’s THE Club. Easy! It is actually called “EL Club”. So that makes it pretty obvious that I had to go. I was a little afraid that the place would be packed, since it was the season re-opening but it wasn’t half bad.

I went there with two Uruguayan friends of mine, Pablo and Mauro, and upon arrival I found out, that there were two lines to get in. That there were lines was kind of odd in itself because we got there super early (12ish?) and inside there weren’t a lot of people at all. Anyway, there were two lines: one for the ladies and the other for the gentlemen.

Usually being a lady has its perks here because that line moves a lot faster. But that night I couldn’t care less about such special treatment because it meant that I would have to wait in line alone and then get into a Club I’ve never been to and wait for my company to get in as well. Now, I’m usually all in for an adventure, but since I don’t think my Spanish is any good and it’s even worse understanding anything when there’s background noise involved (now try to avoid that in a club!), I wasn’t too keen on that.

But luckily my friends are awesome and I am German. Said friends talked to someone behind the fence, mentioned that I am the stupid girl from Germany that doesn’t understand any Spanish and is completely lost without them, yada yada yada… – et voilà – just a couple minutes later all three of us got in. No waiting in line involved.

Once inside I found that the Club itself was pretty sweet. There was an indoors dancing area where the air was pretty stuffy and then there was some sort of terrace with palm trees (and palm trees make everything feel like a vacation). And since the Club is right across the street from a beach we had quite a nice view of the Ramblas and the beach and the Rio de la Plata. The latter of which is so far stretched out at that point that it might as well be part of the ocean. Spectacular view… check!

That said, I really enjoy going out here in Montevideo because it’s so different to clubbing in Germany. They play way better music here, a lot of which is in Spanish. And even though that means that I don’t know the songs, they are still very danceable. And people actually dance here. I mean in Germany there’s a lot of guys who don’t dance at all and just awkwardly stand around. And if they actually decide to dance, most of them quite frankly aren’t any good because they lack some serious hip motion.

Another thing that caught my attention was the way the people dress. Well the way the girls dress. The guys pretty much all wore checkered shirts. Now to be honest, not all girls dressed odd and you will probably find oddly dressed girls in any country. But the degree of oddity just seemed to reach much higher levels. One thing I noticed was that many of the girls wore some sort of Birkenstock platforms which looked like something my mom wears at home every day (but without the plateau soles). Second thing is that they seem to have a quite special sense for combining clothes. A lace top with (extremely short!) silver sequin shorts and cheetah-print wedges? Well,… whatever floats their boat!

So we enjoyed ourselves and the party for a while and at some point in the morning, Pablo and I decided to leave the party and go to McD’s so he could get something to eat. And since they have Dulce de Leche flavored McFlurries here, I obviously had to get some ice cream (so good!). Later we went back to the club to pick up Mauro and drive him home. Which was quite fun because he was tipsy to a degree where he wouldn’t stop talking about anything and everything. I found it quite entertaining.

I guess that’s about it from that night. Bottom line? Being foreign has its perks. Clubbing in Montevideo is fun. German guys can’t dance. Uruguayan girls can’t dress. Best of both worlds? German girl in Uruguay ;)

…and just in case anyone doesn’t understand the whole sarcasm thing: That was meant to be a joke and I am not absolutely self-indulgent and vain!

Pablo, Mauro and I (the three handsome ones in the top-right corner)  with some other exchange students from País Vasco (Picture courtesy of Pablo Maceiras)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fiesta Friday

Last Friday I experienced my first real Uruguayan night of enjoyment and partying. And I gotta say I definitely liked it!

After getting to know a few people from my Spanish course as well as some very fine Uruguayans, Becci and I decided to have a little fiesta on our rooftop with our new friends. We also got joined by some Germans who are interning at the German School here with Becci.

Since we didn’t want to leave the door open, everytime someone arrived they gave us a call and either one of Becci and I had to unlock the door. That meant we had to go up and down two flights of stairs and a ladder in order to get to the roof. Lots of exercise for us. Which I guess is a good thing since in case you haven’t noticed yet, I enjoy the food here a lot! 

The evening started out slowly with some wine and crackers. Of course there were only exchange students/German interns at the beginning because Uruguayans are famous for coming 1-2 hours after the set time. We didn’t really have a time set but we expected most of our guests around 11. The Urguayans, of course, didn’t come until later. 

Becci being all cute

Well, all but one of them. A Uruguayan fella named Agustin who had told me earlier that he planned on coming at 11. Prejudiced me didn’t really expect him that early but boy was I wrong! He was at our house at 11 sharp. No more, no less. Adding to that punctuality, he also left “early” (it was still long after midnight) because he has an exam sometime next week that he has to study for. He definitely ruined my picture of the typical Uruguayan. Jajaja. (=Spanish for “hahaha”)

Between 12 and 1am the Uruguayans arrived and brought some good tunes with them. In the absence of a spare table they converted one of our drying racks into a makeshift DJ stand.

Mauro setting up the "DJ-rack"

At some point one of the Uruguayans named Pablo tried to teach me how to dance “Uruguayan style” which I enjoyed a lot. Nevertheless, I suck at it. I am really bad at remembering steps so I got a little confused but I like the way you dance in couples and have specific moves. The way two of the others danced it looked really great and I hope I can learn to dance better while I am here. Even if that means I have to dance according to specific steps. And since according to his own words, Pablo is a “gran profesor” (great teacher) of dancing, maybe I will learn it at some point. Cross your fingers that I’m not a hopeless case!

Bailamos! [Picture courtesy of Izzie Atkinson]

Slightly blurry party people! Note that the blurriness is due to movement and I of course couldn't stand still for a minute... [Picture courtesy of Izzie Atkinson]

At around 4am we all decided to change locations and go to a club named “Tres Perros”.  And after some delays we got there at 5am. At least that’s what I think but I’m really bad with time and schedules and all that. I think in this aspect I fit in very well with the Uruguayans (minus Agustin the punctual one). By the time we got to Tres Perros, it was pretty crowded already and I think we only got in because we’re foreigners. I don’t really care. We all got in. Inside it looked like a regular bar at first glance but when we went down  one of two tiny spiral staircases we came to a dancefloor area. Fire safety regulations? Not in Uruguay! Jaja. The dancing area was pretty packed and the air was a bit too stuffy for my taste but there was dancing. Dancing makes everything better!

Mauro, Analía, Nacho, me, Pablo and ½ of Becci [Picture courtesy of Izzie Atkinson]

Some time later we decided to go back home. In the end, two of the Uruguayans named Pablo and Mauro (Toby and Rusti? I’m not sure whether or not to call them by their real names or their nicknames), and Becci and I ended up eating crackers and alfajores and talking about anything and everything. However, at some point Becci kept falling asleep on us so we decided it was probably time to go to bed.

And that is how the day really ended. At 7 or 8 in the morning. After a very long and very Uruguayan night. 

Buenas Noches!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Discovering Montevideo: Ciudad Vieja

Friday, my Spanish coursemates and I went on a city tour with two Uruguayan students who showed us around „Ciudad Vieja“ (old city). We first went to Plaza Independencia (independence square) by bus and visited the mausoleum of José Artigas which is underneath the statue in the picture. It was a little bit creepy down there because it was like this dark and gloomy atmosphere with only very little lighting and there were two soldiers just standing there motionlessly.

Plaza Independencia

After leaving the square we went to Teatro Solis which is Montevideo’s main theater. It was pretty neat and there were some very cool rooms with chandeliers and two staircases that were surrounded by some sort of art exhibition showing pictures from past plays. It was nice to walk through it but I would liked it better to see the stages or the area where the audience sits which we didn’t get to see. But since I enjoy going to the theater a lot and tickets are supposed to be pretty cheap here, I decided to go see a play sometime anyway.

Teatro Solis

After that we went to an art museum in the hope that it would be free of charge. But since we would have had to pay for it, our tour guides decided it would be better if we went on with the tour and the ones that are interested should come back on their own to check it out. It was all about the work of a Uruguayan artist named Joaquín Torres García and from what I’ve seen in the entrance area, the art lover in me decided to add that onto my “Monetvideo bucket list”.  

Joaquín Torres García artwork

Back outside we saw some street musicians. Amongst others there were a jazz guy and a man dressed in a “scream”-attire who danced slightly awkward and tried to flirt with Brianna.

I love Brianna's face in this picture!

After that we continued to the Plaza Constitución (constitution square) where we  visited a cathedral the name of which I forgot. It was catholic and very similar to catholic churches and cathedrals in Germany. There were lots of adornments and figurines and for my taste it was slightly too kitschy. But that’s because I prefer very plain churches without any figures of saints.

Cathedral ar Plaza Constitución

After that we went to some sort of green patch named Plaza Zabala where we waited on one of our classmates to join us. After a little wait we all went to a place named Palacio Taranco which is a mansion that initially served as the residence of two brothers named Taranco. Today you can visit the rooms and the small but very beautiful garden. I think there was also a museum in the basement but we didn’t visit that one. The main rooms were equipped with old wooden furniture and were extremely classy. The bedrooms weren’t as elaborate but still really pretty. My favorite was the garden with a fountain and the balcony with a view of Plaza Zabala. Isn't it pretty?

I sure wouldn't mind living there!

Abby and I definitely enjoyed that place! [Picture courtesy of Abby Hegland]

Hello MTV, Welcome to my Crib! [Picture courtesy of Abby Hegland]

After that we went to the museum of national history. It was interesting but to be honest it was one too many museums and without much knowledge of the country’s history it wasn’t as exciting. Just lots of old books, weapons, equipment and art. 

Following that we went back to Plaza Constitución and decided to have something to eat. After all the culture and so we sat down and enjoyed some nice conversations. Afterwards some of us decided to have some icecream at a stand nearby. Since the Uruguayans had recommended me to try “Dulce de Leche Split” ice cream I of course decided on that flavor. It is Dulce de Leche flavored ice cream with Dulce de Leche mixed into. So that makes it twice as delicious! I always had a weak spot for good ice cream so I guess that makes me some sort of connoisseur. And I have to say this one is by far the best of all the ice cream I have ever had. Including some very delicious Italian Gelato.

Plaza Constitución

When we were all well-fed we went back to the University. Well Sebastian Z. (gotta distinguish because I have two Sebastians here  with me in Montevideo) went with me to a phone store where I had gotten a simcard for my phone in order to have it set up for mobile internet access. So now I will never ever get lost again in Montevideo because I can access google maps. Finally! To justify my excitement I should probably mention that I got lost the other day and instead of a 20 minute walk it took me about 50 minutes to get to Sebastian H.’s place. Internet access would have sped that up immensely.

And at the end of the day, I went home.

Well, it wasn’t exactly the end of the day. Becci and I were having a party on our rooftop so the end of the day was quite a bit away.  But more about our first rooftop fiesta in my next blogpost. Stay tuned!