In Montevideo, Uruguay
Travel to Latin America is hot. All of the countries on this continent are being discovered by tourists, many for the first time. In 2011 we spent 21 days exploring the beautiful country of Uruguay.
Cecilia Regules Viajes helped me plan our trip. Cecilia lives and works in Montevideo. Lots of people sell travel to places they have never been. Since I used to sell travel I always look for a local agent to take care of my travel needs. This cuts out the middle man and is usually cheaper since the agents who do not create these trips charge a service fee to do so. Cecilia has been in business since 1981 and she took great care of us. We went to the cities of Mercedes, Fray Bentos, Salto, Cabo Polonio, Colonial del Sacramento, Punta del Este and of course Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay.
Because we were such good clients and open to going places that others might have found too rustic Cecilia offered to take us one night to a club where mostly locals go. Since Mike and I always look for these opportunities we jumped at the chance to go with her. We meet Cecilia at 10:00pm at her office on a Saturday night and we walked to the building known as the Mercado de Los Artesanos. The ground floor of this building is a huge souvenir shop selling items from all over Uruguay. The magic happens on the second floor.
Uruguay is one of those Latin American countries where they eat dinner late. It is normal to see people eating dinner at 10:00 or 11:00pm. When the shop on the first floor closes at 9:00pm the restaurant upstairs begins to cook, which is why so many tourists do not know about it. You can take tango lessons here and there is even a market to buy fresh cut meats and cheeses. The restaurants serve local Uruguayan food but people are not coming here for the food, they are coming for the floor show. Around 11:00pm a singer takes the stage and he sings a couple of favorite songs. He then walks from table to table and asks everyone where they are from and a round of applause ensues when you say you are from someplace outside of Uruguay. This night there are a lot of people from Argentina and Germany in the audience. Since the emcee is just getting warmed up this becomes open mike time and everyone and anyone can get up to sing or perform. There are a few takers and several of them have wonderful singing voices. Sitting and eating good food, drinking good wine, having wonderful company and enjoying the show makes the time fly by and soon it is close to 2:00am and no one is leaving, these Uruguayo really know how to party!
The Mercado de Los Artesanos is not in the best section of town and if you plan to have dinner and attend the show make sure to take a taxi so you are not wandering around the city streets at such a late hour. Montevideo is pretty safe during the day but nighttime can be another matter.
The people of Uruguay are incredibly warm and friendly. They are also one of the most progressive Latin American countries we visited. They have legalized marijuana, abortions and gay marriage.
Uruguay should be on everyone’s list of places to visit and I’m glad it was one of the countries we explored. Mike and I both agree that the cities of Mercedes and Fray Bentos are still on our list of places to perhaps live one day. The country of Uruguay reminds me of the old saying, “special things come in small packages”.