Day 18: Colonial de Sacramento, Uruguay

Monday, 30 April 2018 – Day 18: Colonial de Sacramento, Uruguay (34.4607° S, 57.8339° W)

Uruguay! …Huh? Uruguay! …Paraguay? No, Uruguay!…Is that near Guyana?

Indeed, Uruguay is a mostly unknown country, a mysterious place off the tourist radar…and wrongfully so…a nation of only 3.4m people; underdogs all, but with a lot of pride and character. And rightfully so, as they are passionate caring romantics, noble, charming, egalitarian and inviting. My best guess is that their working paradigm seems to be: “Here nobody is better than anybody else.” No tall poppies here…

WE have seen most of the teams the last the few days…some at the hotel, some surreptitiously walking about the city…only one team has not been seen or heard form since Saturday morning….stay tuned.

Officially named República Oriental del Uruguay (Oriental Republic of Uruguay)…and caught between the joyful chaos that is their neighboring giant Brazil, their northern neighbor…and the staid stuffy and flawed nation-state that is Argentina, it’s southern neighbor. It is oft-called The Switzerland of America…Uruguay means ‘River of Painted Birds’ referring to its many rivers including the Rio de la Plata, the widest river in the world and to its 475 species of birds.

So…what can I tell you about Uruguay? Well, long since suffocating under the grip of military dictatorship…Uruguay is today one the world’s most ethical nations. It is ranked first in the Latin American region for: democracy, peace, lack of corruption, quality of living, e-government services, freedom of press, size of their middle class, prosperity and security…in fact, some might say they are over-compensating for their past repressions making all things legal in a very secular libertarian way–usually through national referendums. In fact, in December 2013, Uruguay became the first country to legalize the production, sale and use of marijuana; it has progressive divorce laws (in a repressively Catholic continent); same sex marriage is celebrated; Women’s reproductive rights are well protected; and although 50% Catholic, Uruguay is one of the least religious countries in Latin America, now calling Christmas “Family Day” and Easter Week is now referred to by almost everyone here as “Tourism Week.” It is indeed one of the least religious countries in Latin America. (Coincidence? It also has a literacy rate of 98.1 percent…hmmm?)

And how’s this one: 95 percent of the electricity in Uruguay is generated from renewable resources, mainly from wind farms. It is a country where cows outnumber people four to one…they are the world’s largest consumer of beef per capita…and soccer wise, Uruguay is the country with more glory per capita in the world…Their national team (aka La Celeste) has 91 international titles, they even hosted the first ever World Cup, and won the 1930 & 1950 World Cups (against Brazil in Brazil!), they have won the Copa America 15 times. And Messi’s sidekick at Barco, Luis Suárez calls Uruguay home, along with: Diego Forlan, Paolo Montero, Enzo Francescoli, Alvaro Recoba…

Uruguay is also home to: Gauchos, maté, chivitos (a filet mignon sandwich), and great wines and beaches.

And so we are here for two days, staying at the waterfront Hyatt Centric Montevideo.

Picturesque Colonial del Sacramento…stalled in time.

Old world charm in a modern laid back city-scape…

yerba mate Tea…

See you in Montevideo tomorrow night, Tuesday at 7:00PM!