Hello again! This week has been really fun and busy so far. 9 weeks of classes down, only 6 to go. I also reached the halfway point in the trip! It is crazy to think I have been here over 10 weeks now. I have a really busy October ahead of me so I have a feeling it will be November before I know it.
Last Sunday, we went to Colonia, Uruguay for the day. The town has about 25,000 people and was a nice change from the normal 13 million people I share the city with. The trip there was actually pretty fun as we took a ferry across the Rio de la Plata. The ship was huge and on the inside basically just looked like a gigantic airplane cabin. The trip took about an hour as we were taking the “fast boat” there. On the way back, the trip was on the “slow boat” taking three hours. The ship was full of things to entertain us though. It had a small arcade on it and we could stand on top of the ferry on the upper deck to enjoy the view of the river. About halfway through the ride, they had a small concert in atrium of the boat, and once it became dark they invited people to the top deck for an astronomy talk. Overall, traveling by boat was really nice to get there and back.
Colonia itself is a very old city with a lot of colonial history. The city was sporadically controlled by the Portuguese and the Spanish, with the British trying every so often to play there hand in the area as well. So, there is a mix of Spanish and Portuguese culture throughout the city, although the population speaks Spanish. The city itself also was directly between Buenos Aires and Montevideo Uruguay, two major Spanish cities competing for influence and power with the Spanish government. When we first got there, we were given a walking tour of the remnants of the fortress that was built to protect the town as well as the oldest neighborhoods in the area. We then took a bus tour of the entire city, and the white sand beaches mocked us throughout the entire trip as it was way too cold to swim or even enjoy hanging out on the beach.
Uruguay itself is a relatively small country, with under 4 million people. I do not know a ton about their history, but I know that they share a lot culturally with Argentina, which is not surprising given the proximity and how much larger Argentina is. But mate is just as popular there as it is in Buenos Aires, as well as meat and the mythical idea of a gaucho (South American Cowboy)
After the bus tour, we went to eat lunch at a delicious Uruguayan styled restaurant. After talking to our tour guide, we all decided to order a “chivito.” This delicious dish is special to Uruguay and is a sandwich with a slice of beef, a few large pieces of bacon, and a fried egg all smothered in cheese with lettuce and tomatoes. The sandwich is huge and everyone had trouble finishing it. If you ever get the chance to try one, try one. All of our group felt that it would be even better with a little bit of spice added to it, but alas, in this area of the world spicy food is a rare find. We finished off the trip with a quick walk through a local artisan market and then rushed back to the ferry to go home.
Tomorrow we are going to a gaucho ranch to ride horses and eat lots of carne asado (Argentine meat). Prepare yourself for lots of pictures.
Thanks for reading!