Saturday, December 31, 2011

Try the Local Drink: (Wine)

After beer probably the most popular alcoholic drink around the world. It is most definitely the most popular drink throughout all of history. It comes in so many variations that it can be mind boggling for someone to try to find the best wines. Basically the best wines are produced by these countries(and in my opinion this order) Italy, Spain, Chile, Argentina, France, South Africa, United States(California), Australia, and Germany.

Notice two of those Chile and Argentina are fairly close to Uruguay. Well they both produce excellent wines Argentina is known for Malbecs and Chile for white wines(although the reds there are excellent). However, in Uruguay a different grape, Tannat, is starting to make splashes as Uruguay has increased wine production every year. An interesting test would be to buy a Malbec and Tannat wine and see which you like if neither find the blended version.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My $.02 on a $200,000 Education

This is going to be long, but if you are in college/about to graduate you should read this or at least the links I have added to this post if you disagree with my view.

I have touched this subject before when speaking of my experience of graduating from Average American University aka ISU.

I stumbled upon an article about the value of college through a link shared by one of my college friends on Facebook. It got me thinking about if college is really worth it? Many would say yes. Some would say no. I would say it depends.

People who should go to college:
-You are smart you score in the 90th percentile or higher on everything and you did very well in school. You get some sort of scholarship that helps take the edge off the sting of an expensive education. You don't know what you want to do yet, but you have an idea.
-You are an athlete who is very good at your chosen sport and you are attending for college for free or are actually getting paid(illegal but we know it happens) and you choose a major your interested in that will lead to a career that is not on the playing field, court, track, etc.
-You are a ridiculously insanely good athlete who is going to college and there is no question you will be pro it is just a matter of when
-You are a minority, foreigner, woman, poor, or a first generation college student who is receiving a scholarship that pays a good chunk of your costs.
-You have taken college classes in high school for a reduced price and can easily graduate in 4 years or less.
-Your parents are paying for everything and will continue to do so. You will never need to work a day in your life.(Personal aside: I'd rather have you slightly educated than be an uneducated socialite)
-Your parents/grandparents have saved money for you to go to college that will help pay a significant amount of the cost

People who shouldn't go to college:
-You are average to below-average intelligence and getting into a college was difficult. You are going to be paying full-sticker price and you will need a bunch of loans.
-Your parents aren't/can't pay a cent and the government and scholarships cover little to nothing.
-You have no idea what you want in life and you are going to college to find out.
-You are going to college just for athletics you might be able to go pro, but it is far from certain and you don't really like school.
-You are practically a genius you know exactly what you want to do and have a rough idea of how to do it. Why would you waste your time?
-You routinely get made fun of from being stupid(not doing or saying something stupid once or twice) Take the hint. Not everyone can go to college find something else your good at that isn't school.

So what is the main takeaway from this in case you missed it. Only go to college if you can greatly reduce the highly-inflated cost. It is not worth it to rack up tens of thousands of dollars of debt. In my opinion debt of anything less than $10000-$15000 is acceptable, but this depends on your finances, family finances, and job prospects/pay in your chosen field. In line with this spending 5 years in college isn't worth it unless you are going to be an engineer or anything else that has to do with computers that is super-in-demand and pays well Doctors and lawyers go to law/med school and I have no idea if that is worth the sticker price.

Second don't go to college because you think it is the only way to make more money. It isn't. I wish employers didn't need qualifications before they could consider anyone a worthy job candidate. I personally tend to pick up things much quicker than most people I meet. I can't quantify that and other people who think they can and can't make me saying it meaningless(If you have any ideas how to market this comment below or tell me skills you have that aren't quantifiable). Those super-rich people that do Silicon Valley start-ups are a good example of this.

Third, to be frank if your stupid don't waste your time and money as well as others. You can probably do something else that doesn't require much school smarts that you actually like.

Fourth, this only applies if you can't fund your studies and you are only of average intelligence or less(not everybody is book smart).

Here is what to do instead of college for the same price or less. I like one of those a lot.

Oh and if you do go to college pick a major you really like rather than one where you will be able to make lots of money.

I talked to a guy the other night that is 22 owns his own import-export business and by most marks is successful. He has met billionaires that are the Forbes 100 richest list. He is headed to Harvard shortly for his MBA. All of these impress most people, but what impressed me most is what he told me. I want people in college to listen to this because I think it is so true. He was the youngest person(age 19) in an American corporation ever to rise to a very high-level position(not sure exactly). He was working 12 hours a day or to put it succinctly working his ass off. You know what they wanted they wanted him to work 15 hours. They wanted him to do more despite he did more than anyone else ever had.

Are you F***ing Kidding Me? Rightly so he gave them the metaphorical finger. A rough quote of what he said, "I want to enjoy life I am too young to be working that much maybe later, but right now I want to enjoy life." I have seen this happen personally with people in my own life. American Corporations want to suck you dry and spit you out with nothing. Just like BBQ ribs they'll pick everything off you and leave you as a bone to be thrown away in the garbage. Why wouldn't they? They can just find another sucker to replace you if you quit. College graduates beware! Many of my friends are graduating this year or next I hope they read this and at least give this some thought.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Try the Local Food: Dulce de Leche

If from the alfajores post you didn't learn enough about dulce de leche there is more or so much creamy deliciousness more to be had. Dulce de leche is basically a caramel flavor sticky substance. You may have tried it in Mexico or other Latin American countries. Believe me it is way more popular here. A dessert without dulce de leche is just fruit or bread. Seriously they make every dessert with dulce de leche. Ice Cream Check. Cake Check. Pastries Check. Flan Check. I might have forgot something, but I almost guarantee it has dulce de leche in it. You can also just grab a spoon and serve yourself a heaping pile of dulce de leche(recommended). If you don't like it then the Uruguayan dessert table looks quite empty to you.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Try the Local Food: Bizcochos

Need something for merienda(afternoon snack similar to English tea custom) or something for Sunday afternoon snacks. You need some Bizcochos. Bizcochos are basically crescent rolls that are filled with either savory(ham & cheese usually) fillings or sweet(jams)ones. The sweet ones also might be dusted with sugar. Where do you find these? The local bizcocheria which is located in every neighborhood(usually with the panderia(bread)). Pick a few up and enjoy a delicious snack while walking around you won't regret it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Try the Local Food: Alfajores

Oreo on steroids. Dulce de Leche Heaven. Puts Little Debbie to shame. The famous alfajores. It depends on the brand, but basically what you'll get is dulce de leche piled high between sugar cookies or a thin layer between cake(similar to Hostess) and then covered in you favorite flavor of chocolate. They are amazingly creamy and rich, but some companies get carried away and make them gigantic. I couldn't finish them because they were just too rich. If your in Uruguay and looking for something sweet pick up some alfajores. Also don't go cheap spend that 10 or so extra pesos you'll get much better quality. I had no idea what these were when I got here now I am wondering why I haven't seen them anywhere else. Someone should start an alfajores import-export business.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

#26 Go Underground

I didn't mean to. It happened quite on accident. I found myself in an industrial part of Montevideo; the kind of place where everything is corrugated metal and a shade of grey. Where during the day you would hear machines cutting and welding and creating things from metal, wood, whatever is around to create something new or more likely fix whatever is broken. At night it is vacant and foreboding.

We were led to this place by a tiny kid from Mozambique(I know A. Where the hell is that? B. Who has ever met anyone from Mozambique outside Africa?). He was a ball of energy that everyone in the group was drawn to. Who wouldn't be? He had an infectious charisma and the turban-style headdress he was wearing pegged him as exotic(really interesting). We followed him out to this concert that he was going to. After a walking for about 20 minutes the Are We There Yet? question got quite popular. "Only two more blocks", he would say, but five minutes later it was another two blocks. This continued for about 5 more times, but it was obvious we weren't going to stop. We had enough beer in the tank to make walking 2+ miles not seem that bad.

Groups of 2-4 of what seemed like high-school aged people sat around smoking/drinking/talking. We could hear the force of the electric guitar pulsing through the door around which the groups were congregated. It was nothing fancy in fact it seemed like it tried hard rather hard not to be. This is the Underground. There were goths and hipsters, rock guys and hippies, and then there was us a little more mainstream(at least I am). We entered the door as a band screamed in Uruguayan English(It sounds very whiny) Red Hot Chili Peppers songs. They played well, but the singing was not my favorite they should stick to Spanish. Quickly I grew tired and we soon after left with the stamp the only mark that we had been there.

I had met a Uruguayan in the Plaza de la Independencia on the Day of the Dead while watching the Zombie Walk(that seems to be becoming increasingly common). We talked later on Facebook and she gave me her band's demo CD. Surprisingly it was actually good and reminds me a little bit of Nirvana. However, their sound is way more complicated than that. I still am trying to figure out how to describe it while I play it over and over on iTunes. Although their name Contraste (Contrast, yea I know obvious) so they try to combine different styles, which creates a completely new something I can't describe. Anyways the night after going Underground for the first time I was going to their concert. I checked Facebook that morning for the location. I looked down at my arm. Decibelios stared back at me on my pale outstretched arm. Facebook confirmed I was bound there again.


I got off work at 11 and rushed to the bus and got off in the industrial Cordón. The concert was supposed to start at 11; I got there at 11:45 nothing was happening. This is Uruguay I should have guessed. I met the Uruguayan and she introduced me around her circle of friends. Smoke wafted around as other groups smoked around us...waiting. We passed a bottle of Pilsen around...waiting. Finally the doors were opened and we joined the mass of humanity waiting(catch the theme here) to get in. Upon arriving I was greeted by a tribute to John Lennon that was actually well done and of course featured his best songs and my favorite "Imagine". After that a break between bands or as I saw it a good time to grab a couple liter bottles of Pilsen to pass around the group.


We ducked back inside and with clever label swapping brought Pilsen into a Patricia bar and continued the bottle passing as we enjoyed the pounding drums, the twang of the electric guitar, and the echoing bass. The lead singer twisted his face and body as he scream/sang the Spanish(much better than English for Uruguayans)lyrics. A great concert really.


We filed outside grabbed more bottles of Pilsen to pass around and talked animatedly outside the door that the music pulsed out of. More people arrived; discussions became about more than the usual small talk/surface topics. People who knew English arrived. Language was discussed then politics then anything that seem really interesting. It got really philosophical and it was 5AM. I love these discussions and was somewhat surprised they happen in the Underground.

The music pulsing, the bottles circling the group, the philosophical discussions, the jokes thrown in every now and then. This is the Underground. It doesn't matter the place(although it helps), it doesn't matter what you dress like or where you come from, and it doesn't matter what language you speak. We're all people and we all appreciate good music this is why you go to the Underground. This why I love the Underground. Why didn't I go there sooner?

Check out Contraste Uy on Facebook here

Or their demo here.

What do you think about the Underground music scene? What do you like about it? Where do you go to find the Underground? Please Comment Below.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Try the Local Drink: (Whiskola)

I haven't been to Scotland, but that probably is the only place in the world more obsessed with Whiskey than Uruguay. Drinking whiskey is the liquid version of their love affair with all things beef. Seriously it is everywhere and everyone drinks its. I have had whiskey every day/night for the last 4 days. Yep even ladies are throwing back whiskey with the gents. Bring a bottle of Chivas Regal and you are in with Uruguayans.
Uruguayans other obsession Coca-Cola. They love it here because it isn't as common as in the States. In fact one Uruguayan joked(I think) that a baby's first word after mom or dad is coca(Coke). Mix these two obsessions you have the prized whiskola. Yes whiskola is all over the world(for example Jack and Coke), but here it enjoys an incredible popularity.
Oh you think I am kidding. See that Ford Ranger pickup bed loaded with boxes? That back row is 60 bottles of Johnny Walker Red Label for a wedding(post about that will be up in the next couple of days). The other ones are wine also will get to that later.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

#25 Get a Job

So if you already my interview in Spanish post you know what happened.

However, I had another one with Berlitz. I came in speaking Spanish and then the interviewer said "Hello". Oh right English, wait how do you use that again?". So I changed gears rapidly to my best English. The interview consisted of talking about the job in English. All I had to do was prove I could speak English well. Yes!! I can do that.


Berlitz is a language-instruction institute that teaches by immersion. Basically you do what I did in reverse(Spanish to English). Students listen to me speak English and bit by bit pick it up. Also it has some great benefits I can get free language instruction or discounted private sessions. Portuguese, yes please. Other reasons to be excited are the flexible hours and working at home on the Berlitz Virtual Classroom platform.

I signed papers with my training class the 29th, which was interesting since everything was in Spanish. Along with that I received four huge instructor's manuals. My training class was really cool and the people in the company are really helpful and fun, so definitely excited. Plus we recently had the end of the year party which was good to meet everybody in the company face to face.

Monday, December 12, 2011

#24 Ride the Lux Bus

I try to watch what I spend and so that means taking the normal bus. However, sometimes that just isn't going to happen:

I had just finished talking to immigration after waiting for about an hour for the privilege to make an appointment that was not even made because their system was down. Then had gone and likely got ripped off by FedEx when I sent a letter a letter to the FBI and it cost me over $50. As I was leaving the downpour began while the wind howled. I ran for cover to the nearest bus stop.

The 148 Aviacion appeared from behind the line of buses after a very long 30 minutes that only served to put me in a worse mood. However, I wasn't at one of the official stops. I chased 148 in the rain, but the driver wouldn't open the doors and to me it was the equivalent of giving me the finger. Yes technically he wasn't supposed to stop there, but it was raining and the wasn't moving with bus after bus slowly crawling in front of 148.

Well he continued and I knew a shortcut through the Plaza Independencia to a SANCTIONED stop. As I ran through the needle like rain and tornado-like winds my papers from immigration flew out from under my jacket and across the street into a little river the rain had created. I waited for traffic picked up the sopping wet papers that were still salvageable, but barely. I dashed for the bus stop and arrived at the street to see the 148 bus just leaving. Cue middle finger now.

Technically it wasn't his fault, but my patience was gone after dealing with the infamous Uruguayan bureaucracy, likely getting ripped off, and torrential rain coupled with winds that would make Dorothy think tornadoes aren't that bad. Oh I hate the 148 it takes forever and they usually use the old uncomfortable buses and then that hijo de Puta! I waited at the sanctioned stop under cover of a quite inadequate overhang as the rain continued it's steady soaking of the city. Another 20 minutes and the other bus arrived the D5(ahhh ahhhh).

It costs an extra 7 pesos or about 40 cents, but today I needed it. What do I get for that extra few pesos. Bus seats that are cushioned and feel like they are holding you(soooo comfy) rather than the hard plastic covered with a thin cushion. It isn't nearly as commonly used, so you almost never have to stand unlike almost every regular bus I take. Also it skips some of the stops, so it is much faster. Some days you just need to treat yourself. Especially when your dangerously close to your limit.

Note: The 148 somewhat redeemed itself by picking me up at 5AM at an unsanctioned stop, but I guarantee if it hadn't I would have wished eternal damnation upon the 148.

#22 Get Residency: Part 1 Carnet de Salud(Part 2)

The next day I related my story of failing to get my Carnet de Salud. Monica gave me the "Ï'm sorry" look and started pulling out her phone. Despite my insistence that I could do it later she told me she had a friend that used to work in the clinic run by the Ministry of Public Health. She chatted with her friend which she apparently hadn't talked to since I had arrived in Uruguay. This inside connection set-up an appointment which meant I was going again the next day, so I had to endure another 12 hour fast.
I got to Ministry of Public Health about 7:45 and there was already a bunch of people waiting. I know how this works in other Uruguayan government offices...slowly. Luckily a lady came out that my connection had talked to and asked for my passport shortly after I arrived. I got fast tracked to be the first person through. Well after paying a painfully high 1600 pesos($80) because it was for residency. The non-residency one could be free, but at most was 250 pesos. They had an assembly line of doors set-up to get every bit of information they needed from you.

1. Pay(as detailed above)
2. Photo and entering information
3. Height and Weight(Since my homeland is not a metric fan I have no idea what the measurements meant, but I'm somewhere around 150 cm and weight 70kg)
4. Eye Test(Left eye perfect: right eye can't see the top line without contact, apparently this is sufficiently concerning I have to redo it to get a two-year Carnet de Salud)
5. Blood & Urine Sample(Time to give away bodily fluids and really nice people at this station, which is a nice trait in people that are about to stab me.)
6. Tetanus Vaccination(Yea I don't use my left shoulder too much and now I have proof that I've had this vaccine)


7. I am guy I got to skip this step.
8. Dentist(Thankfully only a quick look at my teeth not an actual checkup of scraping my teeth to death)
22. General Physical (minus the awkward turn your head and cough part) I don't know why so many numbers were skipped

Assembly Line(Sorry it is so blurry)

This took about 30 minutes in total. I went to pick-up my Carnet de Salud the next Tuesday(I went there Friday.) Again some waiting in the rows of chairs that government offices are so fond of, but I finally had it.
P.S. I have to retest my right eye to get it for 2 years rather than six months.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Try the Local Drink: Patricia

After having a wealth of experience with this last night I feel now is a perfect time to introduce you to Uruguay's other beer. In this Beer drink Beer world Patricia stands as the lone challenger to the aforementioned Pilsen. It comes in liter bottles making it ideal for sharing with friends (or at least you should). No need to brown bag it here. Just grab some friends, head to the store, grab a couple bottles, walk along the Rambla or wherever you want in the city, and pass the bottle around for a good night. You can also grab a bottle and freestyle rap with your buddy(see below). Patricia is a decent beer nowhere near my favorites, but again it beats just about any light beer I've ever had. Also even after quite a bit it doesn't seem as likely to lead to hangovers.*

*Amount imbibed means your results may very

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Try the Local Food: Ñoquis

You might know them as gnocchis, but the Southern Cone(Argentina, Uruguay, Chile) has it's own take. They are made out of potatoes and are absolutely delicious. Very much texturally similar to dumplings they are like eating a more solid and sticky form of mashed potatoes. Unfortunately these little balls of deliciousness(snicker, snicker) are very heavy or pesado and the plate you see left me stuffed. I craved more, but my stomach had reached its expansion limit.

Normally ñoquis are eaten at the end of the month which traditionally is the 29th. The reason is they were traditionally cheap and by the end of the month families were running out of money while waiting for the next paycheck. Nowadays it isn't the case for as many, but the tradition lives on. In the house I am staying in ñoquis are given to the people that come by asking for spare food. Not everyone in the world is so well-off and here this is the best way to help them without risking it being used for pasta base(regional brand of cocaine).

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Try the Local Drink:(Homemade Limoncello)

Again technically not Uruguayan, but since Uruguayans are of Italian descent and this is HOMEMADE it counts. Everyone loves the idea of making your own booze, so here is a rough guide on how to make your own limoncello(and drink it). First, find some distilled alcohol. Then add a bunch of lemon rinds and sugar to taste. Let it sit to absorb flavors(experiment with this) and then put it in large bottle for storage. Limoncello is best when chilled. So put limoncello in a smaller bottle and put in freezer, remember alcohol has a low freezing point, so it won't freeze.(Your beer did because it is water. Stop drinking Keystone or Natty!). When friends or family want some limoncello take it out of freezer and pour in shot glasses. Hey you stop! Yes you Mr./Ms. Joe/Jane College kid. Don't drink it like a shot. Limoncello is meant to be sipped to enjoy fully its deliciousness. Also first do a toast Salud! or Cheers! work great. No need for sappy stories about how you met your current companions at least not until you've had 10 or so. Buen Provecho!(Enjoy!)



Friday, December 2, 2011

#23 Be a Vendido

Make unpopular decisions and you will hear it here in Uruguay as with anywhere. A lot. Almost constantly you will hear it. I might as well be Benedict Arnold in the family for my choice to be Carbonero. There is one other guy in the house for Peñarol, I understand his pain. Every day it is thrown in your face. They call me a Vendido because they thought I had said I was for Nacional. Just like in politics words get twisted and people disagree strongly.


However, being the deft political scientist(at least I think I am) I said nothing that definitively said I was for one or the other until I saw the game. Of course I was kind to Nacional because it would be stupid not to be in a family of Nacional before I had actually investigated both teams. Something different here that I rarely see in the States outside my mom and a select few of my friends is I catch as much if not more flak from the girls in the family for my decision. Extra-Vendido to them.

Then again I also made an unpopular maté decision in their eyes. The girls like maté dulce and as stated in my Maté post I drank it to start. Now I am an Amargo and I attract lots of flak for that as well. Oh well the cost of being an individual. I am fairly used to this as most of my ideas are different from everyone else at least from my point of view.

Picture above: Maté Dulce or Mierda(broma/joking)

I sleep like a baby at night because I am happy with my decisions. Unlike certain politicians(Cough Bachman Cough)who wouldn't pick a side in a rivalry because they are afraid to lose votes. Of course other castrated politicians do this to which is probably why currently one party has yet to declare a favorite for their candidacy for president. My ego likes to equate my individual nature with being like Artigas (founding father of Uruguay) or Washington, but I realize that is a big( and very self-indulgent) thought. Unlike Mr. Glenn Beck, I try(sometimes unsuccessfully, but at least I am trying) to contain my ego, so I don't become self-absorbed like the celebrities(or Sarah Palin) I despise. I think a lot of young adults/teens struggle with their individuality.

Picture Above: Artigas

My advice to them is to be who you are and stop giving a f*#$ what others think of you. Addendum to that: Don't call them idiots or treat others bad because the have different views. Respectful discourse and playful jabbing are all in good fun, but don't make it personal. So yes to them I am a Vendido, to me I am being true to myself not others. Trying to be liked by everyone usually gets you liked by few. If you grow a pair make a decision usually those who disagree will respect you unless they are Bill O'Reilly types. However, you shouldn't care what they think anyways.



Do you think I got it right? Or I am just a Vendido? Tell me what you think about being an individual or your experiences. SERIOUSLY IF NONE OF THE THINGS I SAID DIDN'T TICK SOMEBODY OFF I HAVE FAILED IN THIS ARTICLE. Please Comment Below.

P.S. Here is what I came home to when Nacional won the Torneo Aperatura(well besides the jokes):

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

#22 Get Residency: Part 1 Carnet de Salud(Part 1)

Ok there was a part before this. Get birth certificate and legalize, but nothing interesting. The next step was to get health insurance/residency step by Carnet de Salud. I had read a lot about the process, but this part was pretty much skipped over.

Tres Cruces Bus Station

So I finally had a day free to go and start this process. Due to my tendency to procrastinate I had to rush out the door trying to get everything done before the clinic closed. If I didn't this would take, Uruguayan time + longer = Forever, to get it done. As such I took the first bus that went to the Tres Cruces area which dropped me off pretty far from Tres Cruces at Luis de Herreiera. Walking rapidly and guestimating my way west I arrived at Tres Cruces after about 20 minutes. I finally escaped the heat into the cool, bustling bus station.

Cruz at Tres Cruces

I wondered around and eventually found the photo booth to get my passport size photos that I would need. One took the picture, paid another and got a receipt, got my change and photos at another station. Yep this is Uruguay bureaucracy reigns supreme. Ok time to get to the clinic. Sweet I still had an hour and it was just across the street. I walked in asked to get the Carnet de Salud for RESIDENCY. No cigar. "Can't do it here you have to go to the public one". Where? "Durazno somewhere". Great. I headed that direction determined to get it that day.

As I forcefully walked towards Durazno my stomach rumbled. I had fasted the 12 hours and some that is required before the exam. Every food stall I passed was torturous. The heat beat down. My legs grew tired, it was much farther than I remembered to Durazno. I searched for the flag that would signal a government building and hopefully the public clinic. I found it! I entered the door and looked in. No one was there, doors locked. I looked at the sign 8-10:30. F%$%$%$^$^K! I tried to call their number to set up an appointment...nada.
I trudged to the bus stop defeated. Stay Tuned for Part Two.

Try the Local Food: (Milanesa)


This is probably one of the most common foods I have eaten here. Although it looks like country fried steak it is much better than that calorie-wise. It can be made with (pollo)chicken or carne(beef) and is quite delicious. With the Milanesa del Carne it is very steak like rather than ground beef, but Uruguayan steak is above USDA Prime. Just one of the many forms beef takes here in Uruguay. Trust me there is a Bubba Gump list of ways to prepare cow to go down your throat, vegetarians you have been warned.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Uruguay of Europe

Uruguay has been called the "Switzerland of Latin America" since the 1930's. Lately this is being used by tourist companies and the Uruguayan government to promote tourism in Uruguay. However, this is an old parallel and despite some similarities there are some huge differences.


To Start let's look at where this comparison came from:
-Uruguay has some strict banking secrecy laws just like Switzerland
-Uruguay in the 1930's was prosperous economically and culturally(the fútbol team won the Olympics in '24 '28 and they hosted the first World Cup)
-Uruguay and neighboring Argentina have a very European feel
-It is sandwiched between two large countries(Brazil & Argentina) Switzerland(France & Germany)
-Banking, Tourism, and Real Estate are important industries

Some of these are still partially relevant. For example, geographical placement between larger more powerful countries. Consequently they both are generally neutral in the power politics of the region. As such they are home to many international organizations. Another is the economic sectors of Real Estate, Banking, and Tourism being important. However, Tourism and Real Estate are important in all of Europe. Banking secrecy is still strict in comparison to others, but is being loosened up a little bit due to international pressure. However, Argentinians are still poring money into Uruguayan banks due to their unstable politics/economy. That's porteños for you.

Although Uruguay is growing now it is not at the same relative level as the 1930's when it was one of the most prosperous countries in the world. However, Switzerland still remains one of the strongest economies in the world. Although the clock is ticking right now on a few of the countries more prosperous than Uruguay...Europe that would be you(Switzerland not included). The last is the European feel, but then why not call it "Italy" or "Spain" since they are much more similar.

Now there are some things that are just plain different.

Geography:
Switzerland: Landlocked mountainous country known for beautiful mountain scenery.


Uruguay: Could possibly be flatter than Kansas with a long coastline and thus is known for its exceptional beaches.


Primary Economic Industry/Trade:
Switzerland: Health and Pharmaceutical. Overland Transport for trade.


Uruguay: Agriculture. Ports are important for trade.


Language:
Switzerland: Swiss version of French. Also French and German used widely
Uruguayan: Rioplatanese Spanish. Despite Brazil's proximity the best you'll get is Portuñol(Portuguese Spanish mix) in border regions.

As such maybe the Kansas of South America could catch on since it is just as similar to Uruguay as Switzerland. Oh wait, only Dorothy would ever want to go to Kansas.


Guess Uruguay is stuck with Switzerland. Just don't come here for the mountains. You will be disappointed. Come for the beaches and you most definitely will be happy with your choice.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Try the Local Drink: (Tang)

Sorry no alcohol this week I encourage reading about alcohol in moderation. Now you think Tang might not be Uruguayan, but it definitely is different than in the States. Putting Tang in water makes it juice or maybe Spanish just lacks a word for fruit drink. I have had perfectly good agua fria(cold water) ruined by tang many a times. I must be the only one that enjoys drinking water for meals. Oh and this isn't your regular orange Tang oh no. Pictured here is Durazno(Peach) and Pera(guess...ok I'll tell you, pear). Also available is pomelo(grapfruit) which for the life of me I can't understand how anyone likes that, but it is popular in soft drinks as well. Oh if your still mad at me that this isn't alcohol Tang would make a great mixer, your welcome.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Chicken

Happy Thanksgiving to all!


This actually was my first Thanksgiving away from home, besides a very interesting camping trip that I took with my dad and brothers one year. Interesting enough doing a neo-Pilgrim Thanksgiving makes the food taste better, Thanks Dad!

This year I feel I have a exceptional amount of things to be thankful here. I will try my best to include all, but there are so many I may forget some.

Uruguayan Family:
They took me in like one of their own and really helped me with almost everything. I will be eternally grateful. From Juan Pedro's Spanish lessons to weekly soccer games with Chevy and their uncle, going to El Clásico with Jacho to help with anything medical from Monica, Grimilda and Mariana showing me Cerro to Perico and Mechi helping me with my resumé. I got maté tips from everyone and have also had lots of great conversations with all including the extended family. Last, but not least Berni who without his help this wouldn't have been possible. Thanks all!

My Family:

For being incredibly supportive of this decision and giving me great help with preparation and feedback on photos and this blog. Thank you all!

Friends:

The ones back home(you know who you are)it has been great to talk to you and please keep in touch. Special props to ISU Run Club finishing number 2 in the nation. Also my friends here have been great and I look forward to more.

Great Experiences:
From family barbecues and pizzas to soccer games and from nights out and a visit to Colonia I'm very happy with all I've been able to do in this month and a half.

Life lessons:

Travel teaches you a lot...way more than college ever did for sure I'm glad that this adventure has made me aware of what is important and where I am going in life.

My Spanish teachers:

Ok it has been awhile. To all I know I wasn't the best student, but your help is invaluable here especially if I had to live like the first two days here. Special thanks to my Señora Lemons.

My education:

Blue Valley and Iowa State. All involved thanks even though I was a bit arrogant at times.

My health:

Thanks whoever or whatever has made good health possible. Getting sick when travel is common and I have been fortunate to only have minor issues.(knock on wood)

Opportunities:
Many doors have been opened to me through the family and friends as well as on the job front(details later). Thanks to all for giving me a chance.

Still wondering about the title? They don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Uruguay, so today I had chicken. Plus gallina(hen) is a put down for Nacional fans. Vamos Vamos Vamos Carbonero!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Try the Local Food:(Homemade Pizza)

There is a difference between a good homemade pizza and any restaurant or delivery. The family I'm living with somewhat specializes in this and for big parties and celebrations if it isn't Asado it is pizza. Here's how to make it(with pictures).

1. Cook sauce using tomato sauce, red peppers, onions, garlic, and oregano.
Through the magic of telev...wait the internet. here is what a finished batch looks like:


2. Make misa(the crust) by mixing flour and water knead and then roll out. Cook the the misa in wood fired oven or over parilla until like a cracker. This is what it should look like.


3. Add sauce and muzzarella(mozzarella).


4. Add optional toppings such as olives or my version (panchos) hot dogs see below.


5. Place pizza in wood-fired oven and cook until cheese has melted.


6. Cut into squares and enjoy.

Why this is better* than any non-deep-dish pizza:
1. Homemade Sauce
2. Homemade Crust
3. Good Cheese
4. Cooked in Wood-fired oven

This is a Del Campo specialty and I must say they are very good at it.
*Your results may vary

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

#21 Hanging out with the Hooligans: Part 3 Fútbol v. Football

Before anyone says something stupid, let me say I love football definitely my favorite sport. Also I have been to at least 20 NFL games(Chiefs), 20 college football games(Cyclones and Tigers), and way too many HS football games. I've seen the fan experience at each of these stadiums, so I know what I am talking about. Now that is out of way. So how did the fan experience at El Clásico compare to an American football game?

Security:

This depends on the game, but you bet your @$$ the police working at a fútbol game have stopped riots not like the rent-a-cops in other stadiums. That being said football game-day security is more convenient and generally more agreeable.

Advantage: Football

Player Entrance:

Football: Smoke coming out of tunnel or breaking through banner to loud screaming fans. Usually entrance music. Depending on the locale a few fireworks. If your really lucky a jet flyover.



Fútbol: First confetti goes everywhere no man is left uncovered. Smoke bombs are lit until the crowd is choking as they are chanting and cheering LOUDLY. Then if your in the middle your flag comes down. Meanwhile, fireworks are going off constantly like it's a July 4th Grand Finale.



Not Even Close.Advantage Fútbol.

Chants:

Football: You'll get some different ones based on the school or the team, but generally very uncreative. For example the Tomahawk Chop and Gator Chomp are used where there is no reason. Also any version of a chant that has you spelling the team name in some way, great your not retarded. Example(M-I-Z Z-O-U)



Ok they are retarded go Jayhawks. There are some creative ones like Hotty Toddy, but they are few.



Also normally the announcer helps start these or the scoreboard.

Fútbol:

You are chanting about your undying love for your team or mocking the other team/refs/police. There are so many different ones only the biggest of fans know them all. However, they generally follow these themes and they are done almost constantly and especially so when a team is close to scoring a goal.



Advantage Fútbol.

Bands:

Football:

In college you have a marching band in the NFL not so much. In my experience you have to beg the band to play the song you want.

Fútbol:

The band is in the stands and the best part is the drums sounding like a war is coming. The drums set the rhythm for the chant and they are awesome.

Again not close. Advantage Fútbol.

Watching The Game/Replays:

Football: You have a huge screen or many for watching replays of every big play.

Fútbol: That tiny screen isn't helping much. If you miss it you missed it, you bet your @$$ your watching the game the whole time not grabbing snacks.

I've missed plenty of plays live I love replay. Advantage Football.

Noise/Fans:

Football:

On the best of days or the biggest of plays(see below) the stands are shaking and it is so loud you can't think. Otherwise you got 3rd or 4th down and sporadic cheers after big plays.



Fútbol:

Cheering and Chanting throughout the whole game, but it is rarely deafening goals being the exception.

Football can get way louder and big plays are easier to find so cheering is more frequent, but the non-stop chanting of fútbol is impressive(very few casual fans).

Tie.


Celebrating a Win:

Football: If you are team that has just become bowl eligible and knocked off the number two team in the country you rush the field and become part of a huge surging mob.



Fútbol: You get loud really loud and your flags are waving, but you aren't getting over that barb wire fence and past the riot police...most days.

Advantage: Football

I could get into the game, but I don't really care to as that clearly favors American football as it is more action-packed although games tend to drag on a lot longer than fútbol.

Let's Check the Final Score:
Wins for each
Football Fútbol
Celebrating Wins Player Entrance
Replays Chants
Security Bands
Noise/Fans Cheering Noise/Fans Cheering

Tiebreaker:
This is what does it for me.

Average(Not the Diehards) Fan:

Football:

Sitting and quiet except on 3rd/4th downs, kick offs, or goal line situations. Will stand-up and yell when there is a huge play with high-fives very common.
Notes:
-Student sections are a little better, but not much especially in the 2nd half if the game is boring
-If you think your stadium is better I doubt it. Arrowhead can get earth-shakingly loud so shut up SEC, Texas schools, and Seattle(you are not louder).

Fútbol:

You aren't sitting except at half-time regardless of age. In fact there is a chant that says those who aren't jumping are fans of the other team(You better be jumping). You are chanting almost constantly, so you will be hoarse for sure.



Advantage: Fútbol

That being said the game will always change some these things a very good game of football is much better than an OK fútbol game and vice versa. This is just for a decent game of both.

What do you think? Did I miss something? What is your favorite? Please Comment Below*.

*Anyone can comment feel free to do so anytime. Please keep it civil.

Monday, November 21, 2011

#21 Hang out with the Hooligans Part 2: El Clásico

We arrived in the car and entered through the yellow metal gate. No vehicles were allowed beyond this point. I streamed in with the swarm of Peñarol fans. They looked like bees with their black and yellow jerseys. They were headed to the hive: Tribunal Amsterdam. There were two choke points and the bees wanted to get in. However, both were long and moved painfully slow. The sun beat down on us as if mocking us while the police let in so few at a time it was torturous. We trudged forward eager to gain another step. The only thing that broke this monotony was a Nacional fan flying the tricolor flag over the edge of the stadium. The whole hive pointed and chanted in unison mocking him.


After being packed sweaty body to sweaty body in the unforgiving heat I arrived at the line of police. He stopped me and then shoved me through like garbage. He wasn't nice about it. Then the next line was the pat down. Not nearly as thorough as those in Arrowhead or the airport. It didn't bother me it was actually better than those in the states.

With 20 minutes until game time we rushed through the ticket entrance and into the stadium. The hole swarm was there clad in black and yellow. We had arrived, we were home. Thankfully we found an ice cream vendor and bought some popsicles that melted almost as fast as we could eat as we tried in vain to cool down. There were no seats so we positioned ourselves in a spot where we could see the field as the sprinkler protected the well-kept grass from the unrelenting sun.

I looked around the stadium across from the hive was the energetic tricolor of Nacional (Tribuna Colombe), to the left the VIP's(In my opinion the worst fans, but they have money) split between the two, and to my right tricolor fans that scarcely moved(Were they alive? This is El Clásico!).

Suddenly the tricolors got loud. Confetti filled the air, their flags waving from side to side, and red flares shining brilliantly. As specs of white entered on the far side to my left a barrage of fireworks went off. Then a gigantic flag red blue and white flag began to slowly unfurl as soon as it was completely unfurled it rose back to the top of the stadium so quickly that in five seconds it had disappeared.


We chanted for Peñarol while the black and yellow streaked across the field. As soon as they were spotted confetti was thrown into the air. Yellow smoke bombs were lit as the smoke filled Tribuna Amsterdam so thick that we were breathing through our shirts. Suddenly a black and yellow sheet raced over head.

Our flag had arrived and for about 30 seconds we were all one under the yellow filtered light. It rose quickly out of sight and the sun once again struck us.


The game had begun. To my left in the center of Tribuna Amsterdam the drums sounded loudly announcing the battle had begun. That was the heart of the hive where it lived where all the chants started. The heart constantly moved jumping their arms pointing to the tricolors and chanting we are Peñarol through about ten different songs. They always chanted. They never stopped. Every now and again it would catch on and the whole side would be caught up. Especially when the bees made it close to the net or the black evil that is the referees made a bad call. Thankfully, the sun hid behind the clouds, so the temperature once again bearable.

The first half we watched as goal opportunities came and went. The guy in front of me puffed on his blunt, so the air constantly smelled of weed. His smoke wafted back into my face constantly. When the air was close to losing that smell a fresh puff arrived as if a glade air freshener was in front of me. A collective ahhh after every miss from the hive followed by a renewed chanting effort as if we could move the ball into the goal or make the bees play better. We gave them our energy.


The refs missed calls. "Amarillo!(Yellow Card)", "Concha de su Madre!", and "Puta" were shouted. One white jersey with deliberate force knocked down a bee. The yellow never appeared despite the cries. I began to wonder if he had left his yellow card at home. Then a white jersey went down just like a few bees had done before. The little yellow card came out with authority. The tricolor cheered loudly echoing throughout the stadium. We renewed chanting trying to give the bees strength.

All of a sudden it was over: the heart stopped. I didn't even know. I couldn't see the time the only screen was so far away it was unreadable, I had lived high and low with the bees. We had yet to feel the joy of a goal, but neither had the tricolor.

After what seemed like an eternity. The teams reemerged. The heart began to beat again. The boom of the drums echoed the chants began again, the people jumping, the flags waving, the umbrellas held high in the air. It spread across Tribuna Amsterdam we were alive even though it wasn't quite at its previous strength. Without a goal the chants became more infrequent the enthusiasm lessened. The heart was still beating, but the rest of the hive was much more subdued than before.


Then it happened. GOOOOOOOOOOL! The hive was in a frenzy. I screamed that primal yell that only sports can bring. We were all brothers. We hugged as we jumped up and down. We were finally ahead.



The flag descended again as we reached for it creating ripples that showed the hive's energy beneath. The drums boomed louder, the chants as loud as at the beginning of the game, the bang bang of fireworks sounding one after the other in rapid succession. The flag again ascended rapidly unveiling that the game had continued during our celebrations.

In what seemed like the blink of an eye they answered. The tricolors became alive again the red flares shone, fireworks went off, and flags waved as their roar traveled through the air. The hive was silent. 5 minutes passed and then 10 minutes. Outside the heart of the hive was silence as a light rain began to fall. The only noise came from the hearts of both sides the rest of us watched intently to see who would win as each side missed opportunity after opportunity. We got a red card. Finally the refs seemed to be making fair calls, but it didn't matter much. We wanted a goal, we needed a goal. The silence indicating our collectively held breath as we waited.

As white streaked down the field on the right side he went to kick to the center. It struck the hand of one of the bees. Penalty Kick. It was a death sentence. The guy to my right whispered something in Spanish. I didn't know the words ,but I knew what he was saying, "Miss it. Please miss it." He didn't. He tore off his shirt the tricolors roared and minutes later the game was over.

Both teams ran to their respective fans. We gave them another chant to show our support to show that even though they lost they had played well. They should've won. I was going back to family of Nacional, but I knew I was a Carbonero, Manya, a bee, I was Peñarol. It didn't matter we lost we had played better and less like animals(in my opinion). They had committed foul after foul. Their fans cheering sporadically whereas our heart beat steadily with few interruptions. I am a Cyclone, a Chief, and a Jayhawk hard losses are nothing new. They are temporary, but pride is forever just ask Paul Rhoads.


Skip to 01:00

We trudged silently through the soup of paper that the rain had made out of the confetti. We ducked under a lifeless, small black and yellow flag and trudged down the stairs. We streamed out. To my left was a yellow barricade with 30 policemen lining it; watching us intently. Five of them with dogs ready to move at the first sign of trouble. We weren't the barra brava(hooligans), we would cause no trouble, we filed toward the string of buses. The silence was broken only by a few murmurs. We found our bus and entered to more silence. I watched as people trudged along towards home. Back to the world; a world away from the hive.


Even the bus seemed to crawl as it left. It was only Peñarol. Bees trudged home around us until we arrived at La Cruz(The Cross). Tres Cruces is the very heart of the city and that is where I first saw a tricolor walking. At the heart of the city we began to mix tricolor and Carbonero back into Uruguayo. The pain was still there. The silence on the bus was suddenly broken by shouts of "Puta!" & "Hija de Puta!". I knew what had happened a tricolor had entered our bus, our little hive. One of the female bees girls shouted,"Que culo teneis", a painful sting. We stung the intruder with our insults until she left. At the next stop a particularly angry female bee took off running back in the direction the intruder had came from. She was going to try to sting her some more. I didn't think much about it, I didn't want to.

We arrived at our stop. Back in the real world; the hive left behind. We walked as I dreaded entering the den of the enemy, but I couldn't deny who I was. I entered they centered on Jacho the only Peñarol fan in the family. They didn't know who I was. I said, "Peñarol". The son said it was the effect of all the marijuana as if I didn't know. Oh well, they jabbed at me. I knew it was coming; it wasn't that bad.

Then I got to dinner. Oh I had to defend my decision at a table of Nacional fans. I had Jacho next to me. His brother made me eat my words I said I didn't like black and yellow(Iowa, Missouri). I told him I hadn't actually seen them play. It had changed, but now it won't. Chevy probably one of my best friends in the family made sure I knew my decision. He said, "My opinion of you has lowered" and asked how I could possibly make a decision off of one game I told him I saw enough.

The tricolor passion was not like Peñarol(read the lyrics if you know Spanish)Se me ha Perdido el Corazón por alentar a Peñarooooool! On top of that a Nacional player had deliberately knocked the other down, not a normal foul,(just like the Oakland player that threw a fist as a stiff arm). I also think they look too French, but I didn't say that. He said they're both like that and he may be right, but still I knew . I endured a barrage of taunts, nothing Iowa fans hadn't prepared me for. I told him the story of the Cyclones. You have today, but when we win I will throw it back...and then some. It didn't matter what they said, I had my team I could sleep at night because I didn't pick a team just because they had won or lost that day.