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Upon boarding the bus to Montevideo, we saw that there were people in our seats. Always an awkward situation. Usually, I feel I am in the right to sit in the seat I’ve been assigned to, but not when it’s a family of 5 (with 3 small kids) spread over 4 seats; 3 of which our ours.
Their pleading eyes and our human hearts were not going to make them stand up in the swaying corridor of the bus for 2 hours, babies in arms. So Lina, Georgie and I ended up sharing 2 seats between us, and the family shared the other two. With me pressed up against the window, Lina falling through the gap in the middle, and Georgie half-sitting in the corridor, any right to personal space was lost – lucky we know each other so well.
After dumping our stuff at the hostel, we set off in pursuit of a cashpoint. Now, in South America, finding a cashpoint that will accept the good old caxton card is like finding a needle in a haystack.
We spent over an hour doing circles around the city centre, begging various shops with financy sounding names to help us out. We hadn’t eaten all day and were super hungry; but couldn’t pay until we had got money out.. Gah.
At around 5.30, we finally found a cashpoint that worked – in a museum of all places – and ate strange Uruguayan soya burgers and fried potatoes. I say strange because as well as lettuce and tomato they had chopped up boiled egg in them. Who puts boiled egg in a burger? Euch.
We then wandered around the street vendors, and got caught up in a conversation with a Rastafarian bag seller, who started singing some Bob Marley to us and was weirdly obsessed with Lina’s “beautiful Hindu culture”. We had definitely had our dose of joy for one day anyway; the happiest person I had met in a while!
By complete chance we were lucky enough to be in Montevideo over the few days that the annual carnival runs. You can either buy tickets and have seats at some point along the 10 blocks of parade, or wander around and try to get a glimpse where you can. I am glad we did the latter! It was a fun cultural experience of people dressed up to the nines in jazzy outfits and face paints, right down from extravagant feathered hats to sparkly heeled shoes. Hoards of tribal-looking drummers, glitzy floats, mini equality-movements waving banners, women dancing fiercely wearing barely anything, and lots of music filled the streets of Montevideo that night.
After a few hours we had seen enough, our feet were aching and our beers warm. We headed to a bar and enjoyed some sauvignon blanc and somehow began chatting with some of the drummers from the parade; up close they didn’t look so impressive with their cracked face paint and battered drums.
When they invited us to jump in their cars and head back to theirs for some “bebidas”, we decided it was time to call it a night. We escaped to the hostel and crashed out from the long day.