Montevideo – tango in the streets and the capital people

One area we really liked in Montevideo was the old city where, besides the already mentioned museums, we were delighted by the little cafes and arts & crafts markets where we spent a lot of time analyzing countless antique stands. You could find everything you wished for, from expensive jewlery to old books and even things you would have never thought could be put up for sale: yellow(ish) golf balls, razors from my grandpa’s time, old packs of cards which were not only yellow, but had the edges ‘chipped’, dolls missing arms and legs, and many more such objects which seemed to be taken directly from grandparents’ houses, and often even sold by them too.

We didn’t miss the opportunity to have a ‘tea menu for two’, which is a kind of a tea-time snack that seemed to be pretty popular with Uruguayans. It consisted of a hot drink, an orange juice, toast, some white and brown bread sandwiches, croissants, jam and butter and some cookies to top it all. The table was full of food (albeit most of it was bread) and we kind of liked the idea of so much variety.

On the way home one day, a Saturday, we were passing by one the main squares and we all of a sudden heard loud music coming from that direction. As we got closer our hearts started pounding at the thought we would finally get to see it: the tango dancing in the streets, performed by elderly couples. There it was! We were immediately charmed and found ourselves glued to the spectacle and carried away on the wings of time. We were sure that for those dancing couples, in those moments the wrinkles seemed fewer and the legs a lot lighter – we could see the joy on their faces and could not help but think of a world in which this would be the regular scenery on a Saturday afternoon. It would cause much happiness to the viewers, and certainly even more to the performers!:)

We loved Montevideo mainly because of the people – just like in Colonia, it seemed as if they were born with a sole purpose in life: to be of help to us. We went to a couple of events with Osvaldo and learned about the Uruguayan going out habits: first, meetings for dinner are not fixed before 9pm, and they may even take place at 11/12pm. When it comes to going out, people gather after 10 and stay until late at night (or early in the morning); when you go for such a gathering you must bare in mind that people gather at least one hour after the announced time. We went to a Counch Surfing meeting which was supposed to start at 8.30, but people only began coming in through the front door at 10pm. After a discussion on the ‘going home’ time (which would generally be around 1, 3, or even 6 am, including during weekdays), I asked one of them if it was normal for people to stay out so late. He looked at me a lil funny, then he said, ‘the right question is whether it is normal for people to meet so late in the first place’. Yes, he was right, it seemed like a more logical question, and his answer was a definite ‘Yes! That’s how we do things here in Montevideo!’. ‘But… do you not have work to go to in the morning?’.’Yes, of course we do. But what does one have to do with the other?’. Apparently 3-4 hours of sleep each night is the norm for them, not the exception. Quite clearly, these people like to party!

We were fresh out of Eco Yoga Park, where most nights we were in bed at 10pm. So it was a pretty big leap for us to take, and frankly we didn’t really take it. Osvaldo invited us to a sort of a theater play one night; it was supposed to start at 10, but when we got to the place there were only a handful of people gathered. The show began after 11 and ended after 1, but from 12am onwards we have no idea what was happening on stage because we both feel asleep on the chairs, waking up with a startle when the applause noise was loud enough to interfere with our dreams. Pretty pathetic, we know… We left immediately after the show was over, even though the real party was only then going to start. Osvaldo invited us to a couple more parties that we just didn’t have energy to go to, so he must have thought we were a pretty boring company. I guess he met us in the wrong period of our lives hahaha. Well, what can you do when nature calls… or bed rather :p.


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