These are the impressions, accompanied by some photos taken by us and some other very interesting pictures, we capture during our visits to Uruguay. We are not tourist guides or political analysts, just average tourists. Within those limitations, we present our observations of this country of South America.
After four visits our desire to know more of Uruguay and its people continue, as a consequence we have expanded these pages. Some of the new information is already included, and there still much more that we will as we are able to confirm.
In the southern section of South America there is a very small country, so small its citizens call it "paisito" or little country. This country is Uruguay. True it is small, like a marble, but it shines like a pearl and its people, nice and friendly like few others, are what give it its luster. Be forewarned should you some day wander into that area between Brazil and Argentina on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, as we did, you may not want to leave.
Even in Latin America the people of Uruguay are considered very friendly, and extremely respectful. At the international airport of Carrasco, which provides service to Montevideo, it is not a rare sight to see a family of ten saying goodbye or waiting for a passenger, and to our understanding it is common practice for these people to travel frequently. Once you have established conversation with a person of the opposite sex, once again be warned; next time you meet you will get a kiss in the cheeks.
Should you decide to visit, we were told that the best time to go is during summer. That is, the Southern Hemisphere summer. In December activity starts to pick up, entering full swing by January and remaining so until March. We've been there during the other three seasons and although it has been cool in winter, it has always been the right time of the year.
Should we go again, as we would like to, we will spend a couple of days in Montevideo and one or two in Punta del Este or in one of the cities in-between these two. That is if we can't stay longer. Montevideo is the political and economical capital of Uruguay. Punta del Este is one of the main tourist cities in South America. The other cities by the Río de la Plata are smaller and very attractive.
There are many other cities and towns with their own attractions and inviting looks. To many of these we also plan to go. Up to now we have not been able to go during carnival, a tactical and serious mistake but beyond us. Another interesting trip would be to the cities and towns to the north. It is our understanding that the rural life in Uruguay could be a real trip in time to the days of no tension or stress.
There is also the possibility to visit for a day. We did so in November of 2003. In Buenos Aires, Argentina, there are ferries that cross the Rio de la Plata in an hour or two in each direction, depending where you want to go and how much are you willing to spend. Other people that we met on that trip crossed over to Montevideo and then took a tour there. According to them it was a pleasant and impressive experience not to be forgotten. Since we have being to Montevideo a few times, instead we decided to go to Colonia del Sacramento. Either city is worth the trip.
All and all, the best of Uruguay is its people. The country is a true democracy where the right of speech is well respected. In fact their sense of freedom is so advanced that during the first part of the 1900s it was considered the Switzerland of Latin America. But we go to have fun, to enjoy ourselves and there is plenty to enjoy in Uruguay. The Uruguayans have something in their way of being; we still do not know what is it, but it makes us feel so very special that it is always hard to leave behind.
Rented Cars & Roads: During all our visits to Uruguay we rented a car. Driving in the cities, including Montevideo, was no problem whatsoever as long as we paid attention. Had to be careful with the other traffic at the traffic light. Many divers there jump the gun and will start before the light turns green; as soon as the other light changes to yellow. The parking spaces over all are rather small, in relation to most of the cars there. After a couple of trials our perception adapted and we had no problems with it any more. Our experience with the traffic police was rather good, they were more interested in keeping the flow going and helping out than issuing citations.
We had a few opportunities to get out of Montevideo. During those trips we drove on roads and trails, none presented any surprises that a concerned driver could not handle. In reality they were rather good and well maintained.
Money: We carry dollars and never had any problems exchanging it anywhere. When we crossed over from Argentina we had some Argentinean money and was no problem either.
Language: In Montevideo and the rest of the southern coast (at least from Colonia del Sacramento up to Punta del Este) Spanish was the language spoken. We herd a few people talking in English, which is well spoken by many hotels employees. According to some traveling books on the northern regions of Uruguay a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese is spoken. We only herd Portuguese in occasions similar to those when we herd English.
Conversations: While in a conversation with anyone there, including members of government during a scheduled interview, do not get upset if someone interrupts to say high. The normal procedure is that someone walks in, they say hello to everybody in the room, then they ask about everybody in each other family, continuing with a good part of the neighborhood, afterward the person walks away and you are back in business. It is the way they are, family and friendship is big there. Just have patience, and perhaps enjoy the festivities, they are also very professional and all the questions will be answered.
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