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Published: April 21st 2013
The main square and the beautiful buildings of Montevideo
Uruguay, a hidden gem in South America and a country which is seemingly looked over by many global trotters.
I write this as my 4 months living here is coming to an end and I am now sitting on a plane somewhere over the continent of South America at 3am in the morning and bound for the warmer climates of Costa Rica in Central America!
Yes – I've not just changed countries again but now continents also.
I had started to write this a week ago and I was going to tell you all about my past 6 weeks in Uruguay since finishing up work. Of my travels along the coast to the rustic beach town near the Brazilian boarder of Punta del Diablo
with it’s beautiful people and laid-back lifestyle; of the slight-contrast of gorgeous La Pedrera
and its upper middle-class infrastructure and fun waves and long stretched out beaches; and then to the remote and naturally-wild town of Cabo Palono,
hidden on the other side and in amongst the sand dunes with a year round population of 80 permanent residents but swelling to over 1000 during the summer months. Or how I spent a week in Buenos Aires (that's Argentina) walking the streets on my own from suburb to suburb by day finding old coffee shops
Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo
and book stores whilst farewelling friends by night. But then I decided to scrap it all and start again. My heart wasn't in what I had written and I felt like I was just telling you a boring story of a daily account of what I had done but nothing of what I had felt or experienced. Hey, I was even boring myself just writing it!
So instead, I want to tell you that I've fallen in love. I have not just fallen in love with a guy; but with many guys. Not just love for a friend; but for many friends. But really I have fallen in love with a culture; a country; a lifestyle and its people. My 4 months in Uruguay may have been short but I have never felt more at home in over 10 years.
I experienced so much whilst living there. When I arrived in December, I didn't speak a word of Spanish but within 3 days I had a house, a telephone number and most importantly a guaranteed job with a few more options to come and this was all thanks to a very good friend who I don’t know if
One of my favourite plazas in Montevideo
I can ever thank enough. After a month of working night-shifts, I knew it wasn't me. It wasn't only the fact I didn't want to do the work any more but I also didn't want to be that person who was associated with it. That was me when I was 20 and I've long past that age and I have no intention of going back and reliving it.
Then came the long days and physical work on the beach which left my body and mind more tired than completing a triathlon every day of the week but it also became one of the most fun and rewarding experience’s I've ever had.
My time in Uruguay has taught me so much. Not only about myself and what I want out of life but also about others around me; family and friends and what it all means. Uruguay showed me how to enjoy the simple moments with simple but grand barbecues and easy home-made pizza. Sharing food and drinks and mate and just laughing in good company. Not worrying about tomorrow and just enjoying everything now. It has also taught me a good amount of Spanish which I absolutely love!
Uruguay taught me to bring down my wall just a little and that if you cannot speak the spoken language then people can only read your body language, so imagine what can be read if you’re only talking. It showed me how to be diverse and flexible and accept people for the way they are, even if you may not agree with them. And also to sit back and listen and watch – you find out so much about people if you just watch and don’t talk. Your other sense become stronger if you’re not getting ready to open your mouth because you don’t already have a pre-assumed thought (and in my initial case because I actually couldn't talk!) 😊
Uruguay taught me how to let others help you when needed and not become the victim when not. That if you really want something to change, then you can just change it. Others are always there to support you but you've always got to initiate the first step, no matter how big or small the change might be it is still always that first step.
So much of what I am saying gets called common sense and
we all already know it in theory but actually putting it in practise when you’re put to the test is a different story. One of the first things I said when I arrived in the country in my initial blog was that I had a feeling Uruguay was going to test me and to test all that I have discovered and once I got on the plane tonight I came to believe it has – plus a whole lot more.
So Uruguay has taught me to love a little and to let be loved. I will admit I have shed a few deep tears over the past week whilst saying goodbye to the people who have become my family. Friends I have not just met in this country but also Argentina & Brazil as I am now saying goodbye to South America as a whole and for this, I am now utterly exhausted. I have made friends here that I hope will know for a lifetime and I am going to miss just being ‘close’ to them just in proximity.
Though now today, I arrive in Costa Rica. It was recently brought to my attention I have not
learnt anything new for a while so with this thought in mind, I decided to head for the hills and I am going to spend the next 10 days learning yoga and volunteering in a Yoga retreat. I believe it will help my surfing incredibly and also challenge me mentally to keep calm and meditate. This challenge is going to be a fun one for a stubborn little Australian girl ;o)
And then, by maybe convenience and a funny coincidence, over the next few months I will actually be meeting up with about 10 Uruguayans who have also decided to head north to warmer climates for the winter months. I feel I am cheating just a little and I am taking a part of Uruguay away with me for a little while but at least it leaves me with the opportunity to keep on practising my Spanish ‘in house’ whilst living with my Uruguayan family of friends, but this thought makes me very happy. So it’s back to surfing and beach weather again – and hot weather meaning days of 35C! *love this thought*
Central America – somewhere I never thought I was going to be but it
An artists' impression of Montevideo's Carnival mixing the Spanish & African influences
turns life is full of unexpected surprises so it’s time to sign off to South America and let a new chapter of this amazing journey begin! And that’s the thing. I’ve realised I’m not closing a book, just completing one part and turning the page to start another with so many blank & unwritten pages to fill – how exciting!!
Oh and just to clarify any initial thoughts otherwise – yes, I am still single and have not fallen in love with anybody. And I will still be coming home sometime this year...whenever that may be....solo 😊 **There are plenty of photos at the bottom of the page, plus 3 pages more also!**
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