Uruguay was a pretty laid-back visit for my friends and I. I stayed in Montevideo the entire time and didn’t spend too much time traveling. Montevideo wasn’t like other major cities we have stopped in that have multiple tourist spots or places that you must see before leaving. It is more of a quiet, sleepy town at least during the time we were staying. It is the first time Semester at Sea has ever stopped in Uruguay so everyone was sort of winging it.
The first afternoon Paige and I went out to eat at a restaurant that was recommended by the tour agent on the ship in the morning. We took a cab out to the city center to try chivitos, which are Uruguayan sandwiches made of beef, egg, bacon, ham, lettuce, tomato, and onion. We were told it was the one food we had to try while here so we decided to start our trip off right with it. We had a few questions about what exactly a chivito was and our waitress looked toward a lady at the table sitting next to us to translate. The lady helped answer our questions and order our food and we continued to talk to her while we were waiting for our food. We explained Semester at Sea and why we were in Uruguay. You could tell that she enjoyed talking to us and hearing our stories of our travels. After we ate we asked for the check and the waitress told us that the lady had taken care of it. She came over and gave us a piece of paper with her name and email and told us to keep in touch with her. Her son is living in the United States and she said we reminded her of him. She said by paying for our meal she felt a little bit closer to her son and that we were her adopted daughters for the day. We were amazed and grateful for her random act of kindness. We plan on sending her pictures from the rest of our journey.
Chivitos at the restaurant
The rest of the day we spent walking around the city with a group of friends. We ran into some guys playing soccer who asked us to join. We jumped in the game for a little bit (the 100 degree weather made it hard to play for too long) and then spent awhile talking to them about Uruguay. About a half hour into the conversation one of them brought up that they all knew each other because they were all working for an unloading company. Another then went on to explain it was sort of like a halfway job because they all had been in jail at some point in their life. That came up as quite the surprise for all of us. We couldn’t all help but laugh because we didn’t know how else to react. The guys had all been so generous and welcoming to us before we knew they were criminals. Their boss tried to explain that most crimes were very minor and not to worry. It sure made for a good story at the end!
Our new soccer friends
That night we went out to eat for my roommates 21st birthday. We went to a nice restaurant and then tried to meet up with the rest of the SAS kids. There wasn’t anywhere for students to really go out and we heard that everyone was at a casino so we split into different taxis and went. Our taxi driver didn’t know what casino we were talking about and we ended up going 15 minutes out of town and into a random casino. We were the only girls there and the only people under the age of 60. We tried to make the most out of the situation and laughed about how Jessie was now able to get her first gambling in as well. We left and somehow managed to find the other people at the right casino and we all sat around watching the election. It felt pretty strange being so far away and cut off from most forms of communication and news. We have spent so much time focusing on other countries politics that sometimes I feel really disconnected from our own country.
The other days we spent strolling around town shopping and looking at different statues. At one point we were lost between the small streets and sat down on a ledge to take a break from walking. We met a lady who was cleaning and preparing for the Carnival. The Carnival is huge in Uruguay and lasts for 40 days. They are already getting ready for it and it doesn’t start until February! She showed us the different costumes and sculptures she was working on which was really neat.
Lady working on carnival
The last day in port was my birthday so we walked around town some more. I was able to Skype with my friends and family for a while which was a great present. When I got back to the ship all of my friends had decorated my door and we had cakes at dinner. My parents and my friend both ordered me a cake so we ended up with two. It was the first time I have seen them come out with a cart for the cakes! What better way to celebrate your birthday than on a trip like this! Next we are off to Brazil with Rio being our first stop! I can’t believe there are only three ports left!
My door for my birthday