Two little things beforehand: Firstly, from now on you’ll find my pictures below where they are all in one place which allows me to show you more pictures while saving time. Secondly, I have started uploading some pictures to Instagram, and am willing to do so on a weekly basis. So if you have an Instagram account, go follow me @n_m_schultz.
So yeah, for Svenja and me holidays didn’t just end in Lucila. We were planing to visit the “Hidden Gem of South America”, Uruguay, by many Argentinians considered to be Argentina’s little brother.
Unfortunately, the children’s home only allows two of us four Germans to go on vacation at the same time because they depend so much on us, they say. In my honest opinion, they make themselves depend on us because nobody is willing to get involved with preparing all of the ropa/clothes, but anyway. Ideally, it should also be a boy and a girl traveling together, so there can always be another boy or a girl in the children’s home, which also feels a bit random, since there are so many other coworkers, as well. Calm down … calm down … 😀
Anyway, after talking to the owner of the complex, a 92-year-old woman, we were allowed to stay one more night with the obligation to “almorzar”/have lunch with her and her son the following day. Julio before leaving found out that she somehow thought that Svenja and I are married and warned us to not tell her otherwise not wanting to risk the chance for the children’s home of coming back the next couple of years. So we spent the evening having to make up a story about how we met, how old we are, what our jobs are and everything! We were both being a bit tense the next day at the table not wanting to mess anything up. But she turned out to be a very nice lady, who has traveled quite a bit in her life, and she and her son even brought us to the bus terminal afterwards. Still, we didn’t tell her the truth, just to be sure. I wonder, if she would have minded.
We took a bus to Buenos Aires first which was a four to five-hour drive. There we stayed one night at a really awesome house owned by the parents of one of Svenja’s friends, Manuela, which she met using a program called “Tandempartners” where you meet people from a different country privately to learn their language. What I noticed immediately in Buenos Aires was that all of the big houses had fences or gates around them which I have never seen before.
The next morning we took a ferry to Colonia del Sacramento, the oldest town of Uruguay. Colonia has a lot of history, having belonged to the natives than the Portuguese, Spanish, Portuguese, Spanish, and so on. It’s a very pretty colorful town and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the evening we took a bus to Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital, where Mimi/Milagros, a former exchange student who spent a year in Svenja’s school in Berlin, picked us up and let us stay at her place for a couple of days. Her German was still really good, which was awesome. She showed us the city, we met with some of her friends and one night she even took us to a “Fiesta de Quince”, also known as “Quinceañera”, the party where a girl becomes 15 and apparently a woman. That night I found out that Mimi´s younger sister when she turned 15 visited Germany instead of having a party, which are the two choices the girls get, having a party or traveling. But she didn’t just visit any place in Germany. She visited Darmstadt, the city I’m from, which is nothing special compared to other big cities in Germany like Berlin, Hamburg or Munich. And she for example didn’t really travel. She stayed at a school in Darmstadt. Turns out she stayed at my school for three weeks two years below me, so I’ve probably already seen her in my life. Crazy, right? I mean what are the odds of somebody from Uruguay going to Darmstadt, to some catholic school, and meeting a student from the same school two to three years later in one’s own house because that person is volunteering in Argentina with a girl who went to school with one’s sister in Berlin. Just incredible.
Those few days in Montevideo I realized that I missed being with people our age, which isn’t really the case in San Marcos. Most of the teenagers our age still go to school with the children we have to look after at work. I also realized that I missed living in a city.
Other than that, we have heard of many rumors stating that Urugayans are extremely nice people, which we found to be more than true. They use the same grammar rules the Argentinians use which differ a bit from the rest of the Spanish speaking world and their accent is pretty similar to the accent Argentinians have in Buenos Aires. They drink mate differently than Argentinians. In Argentina drinking mate is more of a social thing, where you sit in a circle with friends and everybody drinks out of one mate. In Uruguay you will literally see the people running around with a mate in one arm and a thermos bottle in the other. Everywhere and always, even when standing in line while getting their passports controlled. Crime rates are very low in Uruguay, even though they have been the first country to legalize marijuana. Honestly, I expected to smell marijuana around every corner but I’ve smelled way less compared to walking around a major city in Germany. But hey, if you want to know more, why don’t you just click on this link (Signs You’re Uruguayan) which will bring you to a three-minute video or google „Uruguay“ yourself to find out more.
After spending a few days in Montevideo, we decided we wanted to visit one more place in Uruguay. Our options were Punta del Este, which is comparable to Mar del Plata in Argentina which means big city, expensive hotels, a ton of tourists or Punta del Diablo which is a quiet little hippie town right next to the ocean. We decided on heading to Punta del Diablo, mainly to save money, and because we have already seen a big city in Uruguay. The place we stayed at was a really nice hostel, the life project of a married couple with a little kid, who have built the hostel from the ground up for years. The next three days we spent going to the beach, playing pool with people from all over the world, Brazil, New Zealand, Ireland, France, Spain, the US, Switzerland, etc., and renting bikes to visit a national park with an old Spanish castle. One of the things that really struck us was the fact that after only having spent three to four months in Argentina we were already talking really well. Especially when compared to most of the other travelers who mostly used English when traveling. It was weird to be the 18-year-old who was able to switch from German to English to Spanish, while sitting next to someone from Ireland for example who was about 30 years older and was struggling with every single word.
Three days later we didn’t want to leave. Fortunately, we knew that there were more trips to come in the future. After spending a night in a bus we arrived in San Marcos again. It was ridiculously hot! Some of the kids we took care before the trip to Uruguay weren’t with us any longer, finally having been adopted, also making room for new children we were introduced to. And while we were gone new assets had been built. A roof outside, enabling us to eat outside when it’s too hot and a pool for the kids to play in.
Well guys, that’s it for now. Thanks for reading if you have been able to read this far and see you in the next post, when I’ll be talking about Chile!