“Don’t listen to what they say, go see it.” ~ Chinese Proverb.
(Independence Square, Montevideo, Uruguay)
As per the 2010 US census, about 57,000 Uruguayans live in the US. A quarter of them live in Florida. Curiously, New York, NY and Elizabeth, NJ are the two American cities with the largest Uruguayan populations.
In reverse, 2,800 American citizens have made Uruguay their home. Indeed, the Oriental Republic of Uruguay is an excellent alternative for any American who is contemplating relocation, retirement, or affordable education. These are a few reasons why Uruguay is nicknamed the Switzerland of the Americas.
Meeting an Uruguayan living in the US remains a rare occurrence; knowing anyone who has traveled to the South American country is even rarer. Therefore, intellectual curiosity and exploratory itch are motivators to anyone who would like to take a winter break and answer questions about this enigmatic country.
Here is the plot, while America is drowning under the snow, Uruguay, on the opposite side of the equator, is basking in summery temperatures of 75*F-85*F. It is the ideal time for a traveler to explore the beaches, the night clubs, the open-air displays, and to enjoy pre-Lenten street festivals. Indeed, this is carnaval time….
Uruguay is known for its European outlook. Basking in the European-like sun, in the depth of Northern winter, without leaving the Americas, is quite tempting.
A trip to Uruguay delivers the opportunity to answer questions about the country’s history, geography, civil wars, military rules, legal marijuana, and its highest GDP per capita in South America. It is also important to inventory the system that allows all Uruguayans to benefit from universal healthcare and higher education, at a small fraction of what is paid in the United States.
Can all this be done in four days? Yes, it can. It was done to the cost 18-hour a day on the beat, six hours of sleep, and the graciousness of the inhabitants of Montevideo, always ready to help or to strike a conversation.
Stay tuned and follow us.
(Odler Robert Jeanlouie, Monday, February 24, 2020)