Saturday, October 10, 2009

Me Encanta Montevideo!

Montevideo is like one of those average friends with nothing obviously special about him. However, if one digs deeper and give it enough time, one will discover an amiable and laidback friend.

Montevideo is more than the above. In my short time here, I have savored the city’s delicious steaks, desserts and empanadas. I have shared mate (tea) with Uruguayans, passing around a “communal” mate gourd and bombilla (metal straw). I have witnessed a tango show--definitely a cultural highlight. I have attended a Carnavel candombe drumming practice. I have watched a piano concert at the Teatro Solis and have strolled down the Rambla to watch a sunset over the Rio de la Plata. Everywhere I have been, I have met plenty of friendly people, willing to go out of there way to help a lost tourist.

One experience I will never forget is attending a Nacional football match. This was my first live football match and it was exhilarating! I was sitting near the front and witnessed the back-and-forth of the ball. I also liked the passion of the fans, who would yell, swear, stand up and play the drums to liven up the atmosphere.

Another experience is witnessing the electoral campaign passion of the public. Since voting is mandatory in Uruguay, citizens are urged to be well-informed of the political parties and candidates. It was great to see a healthy democracy in action and entertaining to observe people waving multicolored flags of their political parties on the Rambla during weekends. I wish people in the U.S. were more involved with the electoral process and more passionate and informed about issues.

I have really enjoyed taking the time to stroll down tree-lined streets filled with Spanish colonial architecture. On the other hand, I have also enjoyed the fact that there are modern, first-world neighborhoods that remind me of home. Overall, I have discovered that it is definitely worth it to take the time to explore a city outside of the main tourist points.

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