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.

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.

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!


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)

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?


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.



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.


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).


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

This is what does it for me.

Average(Not the Diehards) Fan:


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.
-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).


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.

#21 Hang out with the Hooligans Part 1: History

My college team Iowa State just knocked off the number two team in the country. Football, American Football doesn't get any better. To say I would have been screaming until I couldn't and rushing the field with the rest of Cyclone nation is a given. However, the next day I went to El Clásico which is the biggest rivalry/game of the year in Uruguay. It may not be the same as winning over the number 2 team in the country, but I bet it will come close. It will be held in the Estadio Centenario, where the first World Cup was played.

Here is some pre-game stats.

Let's do a statistical run down of the teams Peñarol and Nacional:

They are the two best teams by far in Uruguay; historically and now.
Peñarol has won the Uruguayan league 37 times and placed second 26
Nacional has won 32 and placed second 35
The next team Danubio 4 and 6.
Yep if your familiar with Real Madrid v. Barca this is the South American version.

Oh, but Ryan they can't be that good I mean c'mon Brazil & Argentina must be better.
Take a seat my friend, as of late that might be the case, but historically tiny little Uruguay is punching way above its weight class it might as well be a featherweight knocking out a heavyweight. For club teams the most important Championship in South America is the Copa Libertadores (Liberator's Cup).

Let's check some stats:

Top 5 teams all-time(Country): Wins & 2nd
Independiente(ARG): 7 & 0
Boca Juniors (ARG): 6 & 3
Peñarol (URU): 5 & 5
Estudiantes (ARG): 4 & 1
Nacional (URU): 3 & 3
See, Ryan, Argentina is better. In this statistic yes, but this hardly shows the whole picture. Oh and did you notice the absence of country that absolutely dominates South America in size: Brazil...interesting.

Let's look closer:
If we were to make this a points classification with wins worth 3 points losses 0 and ties 1 from 1960 to now let's look at the Top 5 again.

Team(Country): Points
River Plate(ARG): 502
Boca Juniors(ARG): 401
Olimpia(PAR): 381

The only team even close to the Uruguayans is River Plate. They were recently relegated to the second division in Argentina which caused riots because that is just unheard of for a team like that. Therefore, I doubt they will be climbing above Uruguay any time soon. Boca is good, but they have a long way to climb. Oh and did you notice that a win by Peñarol could pull them equal with Nacional. They are so close it is ridiculous, but that makes a great rivalry. Oh your right Ryan, but you can make statistics say anything.

I agree that is why I am going to show you more(less likely to show bias):

Most times participated: Peñarol 39 (Nacional 38 and Olimpia 35)
Most games played: Nacional 325
Most games won: Peñarol 147
Most goals scored(all-time): Peñarol 492

In addition to these Peñarol and Nacional have some of the top players and coaches of all-time in the Liberator's Cup. Additionally, Peñarol has been involved in the 1st(11-2) 3rd(9-0) and 5th(9-1) highest scoring games(won all). Along with everything Peñarol was named the Club of the 20th Century in South America with Independiente of Argentina 2nd and Nacional 3rd.

Oh, but the best players are in Europe. I agree I love Barca and the Champions League is second to none. However, Europe also has way more money to pay players, so a lot of the best ones are from the Americas. However, historically South America has held its own against Europe in a inter-club competition called the Intercontinental Cup. The winner of the Champion's League and the Liberator's Cup play a home and away game to supposedly determine the best club in the world. It was played from 1960 to 2004.

All-time wins:
Tie for first is among 5 clubs with 3 wins each.

Team(Country): Wins & 2nd
AC Milan(ITA): 3 & 4
Peñarol(URU): 3 & 2
Real Madrid(ESP): 3 & 2
Boca Juniors(ARG): 3 & 1
Nacional(URU): 3 & 0

This competition ended in 2004 in favor of the World Club Cup. Since this new competition is so young neither of them have won...yet.

Oh and just to give you a flavor of the security situation. 500 police on hand with 17 checkpoints to enter. Also fans will enter on opposite sides. They aren't allowed near one another. See Part 2 for my description of the game.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Try the Local Drink: (Pilsen)

Good Morning! Hope you had a good night and your hangover isn't too bad from last night. Cyclone fans you shouldn't have gone to sleep after that amazing victory over #2 OSU in 2OT. Oh to be in Ames now...
Oh well, here is the first edition of a continuing series on the beverages in Uruguay.

In the famous words of Psychostick:
"Beer is good, beer is good, beer is good, and stuff!"
The world tends to agree as it is the most popular alcoholic beverage around the world.
Here is the Uruguayan version:

It doesn't rank near some of the best beers I've had such as German varieties. However, it packs more flavor than most beers(especially the ones popular with university students in the States) while going down quite smooth. They also sponsor a rock festival every year, a song "Naci Celeste" about the Uruguayan national team, and maybe if they see this my blog (hint,hint).

Friday, November 18, 2011

Try the Local Drink

You've been iced:

Smirnoff Ice recently made it down to Uruguay. To celebrate I thought I would bring this tradition down here as well. You know what to do, now you can get your Friday Night started off right

Note: I am not sending you a Smirnoff ice that would be quite expensive.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


This is a shout out to my Russian, Georgian, Uruguayan, Czech, and German readers. I hope you enjoy the blog, it is awesome to have people outside the States reading it. If you want updates of new posts check out the newly created Facebook page What NOT to do at age 22(It took me awhile to come up with that one haja(that's a yankee-uruguayan laugh if your confused)). Again super thanks for reading the blog.

Shout out to the Americans.

I know I destroy America in this, but I feel qualified having lived there 21 years. I hope this inspires those of you who don't think about places outside of your country to visit some and discover them for yourself.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Try the Local Food: (Queso)

Wait Cheese that isn't quintessential Uruguayan cuisine? No, but pizza isn't American and Chicago-style pizza isn't anything like pizza in Italy. You can argue if that is actually pizza, but I'd rather enjoy the delicious adventure of eating both. So yes their cheese is very different from the U.S. or traditional cheese-producing regions in the Mediterranean such as France, Spain, Italy, and Greece.

Cheese in Montevideo is primarily bought from a little town, Colonia Suiza(Shankees-Swiss Colony). It is very smooth and creamy and lacks a strong flavor like bleu-cheese or goat cheese. However, as a cheese addict who could eat cheese all day(Don't do this it is a terrible me painful) this cheese is great.

What is cheese like in your country? What is your favorite type of cheese?(I know one of my readers is from Wisconsin and should have an opinion as a quasi-expert) Please Comment Below.

#20 Listen to Local Artists

Ok I know I know. If there is one thing the U.S. can hang it's hat on is we have the best movies and music in the world thanks to Hollywood. Seriously, you can't go anywhere without hearing songs from the U.S. they absolutely dominate any local scene. Any non-U.S. top 40 invariably has our songs with a few local ones sprinkled in. However, even though our entertainment industry is exponentially bigger there is still some good stuff out there. Spain has Paulina Rubio, Alejandro Saenz, Nena Deconte, Javier Bardem(Apparently, god's gift to the ladies). They also have some stuff that sucks like David Bisbal, but we have Ke$ha so...

Argentina, particualary Buenos Aires, has a rather large film industry. I would say Buenos Aires is South America's version of LA. What makes it Latino/a is that they have the flair for being over-dramatic just like telenovelas(soaps). I think they got a bit more Italian(Loud, lovable, and a bit crazy) in their blood where as Uruguayans seem more Spanish(Quiet, reserved, and nice).

Even tiny Uruguay has some quality stuff. Por ejemplo(For example for the Shankees)Cuarteto de Nos. They are a local Uruguayan band that appeared after the dictatorship in the 80's. Speaking of dictatorships in countries like Argentina, Brazil, Spain, and Uruguay might be the reason their entertainment industries are surprisingly small.

Anwyays they are classified as pop rock, which from what I've listened to is a very upbeat rock. Seriously check them out on Youtube. They remind me a bit of Smash Mouth and consequently are now one of my favorite bands. Some of my favorites are Hijo de Hernanadez, Manuel Gritar, Nada me satisfece, and the title of their latest album Bipolar. It is the most fun way to practice your Spanish guaranteed, so don't think of it as wasting time think of it as studying. Aprovecho! Enjoy!

#14 Ride a non-U.S. airline

U.S. airlines suck plain and simple. They raise rates, charge for baggage, and any service has a price. For example it cost me $25 for a checked bag on Continental and I got a glass of ginger ale from KC to Newark and from Newark to Miami. Now I understand these are not international flights, but still.

TAM airlines from Miami to Sao Paulo and Sao Paulo to Montevideo:
First of all two 70lb bags checked free(International flight, but U.S. airways didn't give me that to Spain). On both flights they brought warm handi-wipe before serving food. The food was actually decent, but it still is an airline. The stewardesses were nice and actually seemed to like their job. Also I got food on the 2-3 hour flight from Sao Paulo to Montevideo on both. My U.S. flights: Nothing. Also on that flight they gave us headphones for free(gasp!). My friend from Spain asked for more food oh no problem he got seconds(holy *&%!) that would never happen on a U.S. flight.

It's profit over service and everyone seems to be doing it in the U.S. I would gladly pay a few dollars extra (not the hundreds U.S. airlines charge) for the service I got on the TAM flights.

Here is a photo metaphor of the difference:

What has been your airline experience? What is your favorite airline? Please Comment Below.

#18 Ride the Bus(Part II)

There are the Cutsca city buses which work just fine and do what they need to and then there are the buses between cities. They are on a completely different level oh. my. god. Why don't we have these in the States? I took the company Turil from Montevideo to Colonia del Sacramento about two hours away. Buying a ticket was easy I made a reservation on their site went down to a pharmacy across from the station and paid for the ticket.

The guy working there was next-level nice(There is normal polite person, Iowa Nice, and then Uruguayan Nice, I don't know how you could be any nicer). I waited for a bit and saw a bus that said it was going to Colonia directly. I didn't think it was mine, I didn't ask. Being my first time using the buses there, the next 30 minutes inside my head I kept thinking I missed my bus and frantically thought what I would do next. However, my bus eventually came(a little late, but that's Uruguay, I expected it).

Ok so the bus, nicest coach bus I have ever seen. Let's do a quick comparison:

Greyhound- Cramped and uncomfortable
Avanzabus(Spain)-Somewhat comfortable, but cramped
Turil-Oh my god how did they turn clouds into bus seats? You could almost fit another seat in between seats

Greyhound: Guy that somewhat scares you
Avanzabus: Nice, but not very helpful
Turil: Good morning! Where are you getting off? (And he tells you when your at your stop)

Greyhound: Crowded and I really don't want to get stabbed here
Avanzabus: Crowded and normal people
Turil: Almost no one on the bus and very nice

#19 Be a Traveler

I recently went to Colonia del Sacramento on a trip disguised as a hostel job hunt. The job hunt took all of half an hour and I had the rest of the day to explore the tiny Havana look-a-like city(They use it for scenes in Cuba in actual movies). When I first got there the city was relatively empty except for a couple of tourist here and there. A couple hours later I turned the corner and horde of American college students were staring me down.

I've never had such a reflexive action to get away from people before. I recently graduated college, so it's not like I hate college students. It was how this group acted that made me want to leave. They were loud and obnoxious(in English) and traveled in packs and were generally uninterested in anything around them. Admittedly I've done this before, but I prefer being a traveler rather than a tourist. A quick way to become one is:

A. If your going to talk in a language that isn't spoken where you are traveling, do it somewhat quietly.

B. If your going to be in said country over a month at least be conversational otherwise learn yes, no, please, and thank you.

C. Get out of the giant groups you'll see so much more.

The town was tiny so I saw everything they did at a leisurely pace in about 2 hours and then I left the main area. What?!? Why would you do something like that? If you go to the same places others did you will see what others saw, but in every destination even the most touristy(Rome) there are undiscovered gems. I ate at a food cart and had an awesome lunch that I guarantee was much cheaper than anything near the tourist area.

I decided to walk north along the Rambla(normally a seaside boulevard). However, it was just a highway...until I saw it. Stairs leading into a foresty area. Any of you who know me well know that I turn into a kid when there is stuff to climb or explore, so I tore down the steps and followed a trail. At the end this is what I saw

Win! Game, Set, Match! Game Over!
I will take this view over the security of a group any day and having the beach to myself...words don't exist.