Two months in.
This coming Thursday marks the two month anniversary of arriving in Montevideo. This weird and wonderful place cannot be described in a text, or an email or even a lengthy skype call SO here I am.
While I technically arrived in Montevideo (nearly) two months ago, the time has been split between here and Rocha which is where Santi’s dad Mario and his non-English speaking partner, Virginia have an awesome ranch! Prior to that Santi and I spent three days in Buenos Aires and two days in Colonia (photos below).
So, something that shocked me in my arrival is that the Spanish I learnt in university mixed with duolingo and my trips to Spain etc have taught me NO Spanish. It was as if the second people started speaking Spanish all I could hear was noise, I could not hear a single word amongst the ramblings. Two months later and a lot has changed.. I can communicate with a mixture of words and hand gestures but my understanding has improved IMMENSELY. The satisfaction I get from understanding a conversation is HUGE.
While I’ve met loads of people who don’t speak English, three matter the most, Santi’s mother, Adrianna, his Grandmother Coca, and his niece Fran. Interestingly, you learn a huge amount from old people and three year olds because they SHOUT and talk very slowly. Explaining ‘No entiendo, Fran. Hablo solo Ingles’ means nothing to a three year old by the way, except SHOUT THE SPANISH PHRASE EVEN LOUDER.
The food culture is really different here and has positives and negatives. I learnt a lot on my first day when i was introduced to biscotcho’s, mate and asado. Biscotchos are tiny little sweet and savoury pastries made similarly to crossaints but not as good. You buy them buy weight and like 20 will cost you $5. I fucking love them. Mate (pronounced maa-tay). Gross. It’s strong, bitter green tea. ASADO is the word for a BBQ gathering, Parilla being the word for BBQ. My first asado was with the neighbours- Rafa and Marsei and Santi’s pals — Emilio, Seba and Jonny. Rafa cooked on our amazing shared roof top. You basically burn wood on a grate thing and then move the embers under the grill to slowly cook the meat. We had.. beef tounge in vinaigrette, chorizo, mocheca (cow spit gland), chinchulin (cow small intestine), choto (cow large intestine), asadotira (cow ribs cut a certain way) and potatoes, onions and capsicums halved with cheese inside. No one eats with a plate (at any asado), the food is all cut into bite sized pieces and put onto a chopping board in the middle of the group and everyone grabs what they want with a fork, their fingers or bread! I didn’t sleep very well that night ate only salad the next day but it was an amazing introduction to how I would be eating often over the following weeks..
I miss decent avocados cause they are really hard to come by here. The only place I have seen them is at the awesome Sunday market down the road. The first time we went it rained harder than I’ve ever seen it rain — there are insane thunderstorms pretty much weekly all summer. So, there weren't so many stalls and it was just kind of ridiculous. There was a guy selling puppies and when we looked at them he just kept handing them to us.. I think Santi was holding 3 at one point. We called Rafa (neighbour) because he has two dogs and we needed some solid advice from a dog lover on whether we should buy this dog, he pretty much said yes we should, but look into how hard it is to travel with a dog. It’s really hard so yeah, we don’t have a dog. :(
Anyway, we went again recently and I bought a book called ‘You can’t put out the fire’ from this amazing book shop. There were vintage clothes, records, old electronics, cameras, CD’s, plants, pets, tourist shit, a lot of haviana jandals, cooked food, fruit and vegetables and then just like, a lot of useless shit. BUT IT IS AMAZING AND I LOVE IT.
The puppies look like they need a home but also we probably shouldn’t be encouraging these shady breeders who sell these mixed pups for like $30. Rafa’s main argument was that we should adopt a street puppy or from a shelter because there are dogs EVERYYYYYWHERE. It will be such a challenge not to adopt one before we leave..