I have always wanted to visit South America, however, never did I think I would get a chance to live there for four months. With Remote Year our first four months are spent in Montevideo, Uruguay, Buenos Aries, Argentina, La Paz, Bolivia, and Cusco, Peru. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I boarded the plane to Montevideo, however after being here for 3 weeks I have gained some valuable insight. I have compiled a list of the most interesting, weird, amazing things that you need to know, should you ever come to Uruguay.
- CASH-MONAAYYY: Literally, this country loves their cash. I assumed that I would be able to use my credit card for just about anything and everything, but boy, was I wrong. I have found that not a lot of places accept credit card, and when they do you are only allowed to use Visa. When groups of us go out to dinner, instead of us all throwing down our credit card to split the bill, one person will pay and we pay that person back with… yep, cash – you guessed it! However, if you do use an international Visa card you get the tax taken off your bill. It’s kind of a hypocritical situation, but saving 20% on dinner is kinda clutch.
- 90’s FLASHBACK: One word. Platforms. Never in my life have I seen so many women wearing platform shoes. I could have sworn this fad faded back before I was old enough to wear them. Come on down to Uruguay to see the latest in women’s fashion when it comes platform shoes. I was so intrigued by the concept, that I decided I needed to find out what all the fuss was about. I headed to a local platform shoe store and tried on my first pair. Needless to say, I bought them. The verdict? They are the most comfortable pair of shoes I now own. Not only are they are all leather, but it feels like I am walking on clouds. My feet have never been happier. Amen, platforms.
- THE ULTIMATE SHOW-DOWN: Uber vs. Taxi. This is usually the case in pretty much any city you go to nowadays. Uber came in and took over forever changing the way people got around. Uber in many ways is genius, however the taxi cab drivers do not share the same sentiment. In Montevideo the Uber drivers are targeted for acts of violence. Taxi cab drivers will purposefully seek out Uber drivers and beat them up since they are actively taking away their business. Uber here is cheaper than taxis since it is connected with your credit card and your price is tax free. Our group hasn’t shy’ed away from Uber at all. The rule of thumb? When getting into an Uber, always sit in the front seat. You want to make it look like you are a friend and not just a passenger.
- 10 IS THE NEW 7: The early bird does not catch the worm here in Uruguay. There is such a thing as Uruguayan time and that time is LATE. Restaurants will close after lunch and re-open at 8 PM for dinner, with most places requiring a reservation. During the weeknights we have been eating around 9PM and getting home a little after midnight. During the weekends we have started having dinner at 11PM to try and immerse ourselves into the culture. Uruguayans typically have dinner around 11PM and then will head out to the bar 7 days a week. I was told that people don’t actually sleep in this country, yet somehow they all work full-time jobs. More power to them!
- MATE, SAY WHAT? No, I’m not talking about the Australian word for friend. Here in Uruguay people are obsessed with Mate, also known as Yerba Mate, which is a traditional South American caffeine-rich infused drink. There are no Starbucks, no Dunkin’s and certainly no easy way to get a coffee here. (For me, this doesn’t matter as I don’t drink coffee, but for everyone else on RY2, quite an issue). Mate is drank in a gourd like cup which has to go through a specific curing process. People carry around a thermos of hot water to continuously re-fill their mate gourd. It doesn’t matter what the temperature is, everyone is permanently attached to this drink. For a more in depth look on this tradition, take a look at this video on how to cure your gourd.
Montevideo has been a pleasant surprise as my first stop in South America. As with any new culture there is a lot of adjustment that takes place over time. I am throughly excited to get to experience three more South American cultures and see what they have in store. ♥♥♥