Next stop: Montevideo, Uruguay!
We joined a van tour which took us around the city. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and shared a lot of interesting facts about Montevideo; for example, there are a lot more women than men in the city – our tour guide said that she hides her husband in her house so that no one can get at him (I think she was joking).
People in Uruguay (and Argentina, as I learned the next day) like to drink a herbal drink called mate (ma-TAY) and they drink it out of a gourd and a metal straw, and they bring a giant thermos around with them for refills. Our bus driver had some! It was a large thermos, indeed.
Our first stop was Independence Square. In the middle of the square is a statue of Artigas, the man who tried to fight for independence from Spain, but failed. There are 33 palm trees that circle the square, which represent the 33 people who successfully carried out Artigas’ original mission! The presidential building is right beside the square, and looks like a regular old office building.
Montevideo has a LOT of monuments; there is basically one on every street corner. Here is a picture of a monument which represents the cattle who helped in the battle for independence.
Our tour guide then took us through some neighbourhoods in Montevideo. Then we ended up at the river, the Rio de la Plata! It’s very brown. We also took a bunch of pictures beside the giant Montevideo sign.
Our tour guide explained to us the origins of the name Montevideo. I think the monte is unanimously understood as meaning mountains, specifically, the Cerro de Montevideo, which is a hill that overlooks the Bay of Montevideo. Here are the two differing origins of the name (I just checked on wikipedia and there are actually more than two, but our tour guide only told us about these ones):
- Montevideo was shown on maps as the sixth (vi) mountain (monte) from east to west (de este a oeste).
- The other story is that someone from Magellan’s crew screamed out, “I see a mountain!” which sounds like Montevideo in broken Portuguese.
The next part of this post is super random, but our tour guide took us to a flashy hotel for the most glamorous washroom break ever. Here are some pictures.
After exploring the extravagant hotel, it was off to the winery! (I shall write about this in a later post because it should really be categorized as food, and also this post is getting loooong because I did so many exciting things in Montevideo!)
After the winery, we visited the Mercado del Puerto. It was a hustling, bustling marketplace full of people and MEAT.
We walked around outside the marketplace too, looking for souvenirs.
While we were walking around, I was snapping photos like a tourist, when I came across this:
Once I saw it, I had to take a picture. Then I heard hearty, throaty, boisterous laughter! I turned around and there was a local man just cackling because I had taken a picture of this naughty Santa! He laughed and I laughed. I made his day, and he made mine.
Montevideo was great. Probably my favourite port out of the entire trip!