I’ve been on the road for about three weeks now. So it’s about time to give you some news. Though it’s hard to put some order in my thougths and impressions. The fist one might be “cold”. What was I thinking when I left spring to go back into winter? I can’t say it’s really freeezing. At least not during the day. But the fact that they don’t have heating in the houses (except the few lucky ones that have an open fine),… Let’s just say that, sometimes, I get envious when I see pictures of my friends having a pic-nic in the sun in Brussels’ parks.
But that feeling never lasts long because, even though you still have to discover everything about it, you get warned as soon as you arrive here: Uruguay is the best country.
And, anyway, the warm character of the Urugyayans makes it kind of OK to have cold hands and feet every now and then. They include you really easily, talk to you as if they’d always knwon you and are willing to share everything. If they’re eating, they offer to join, if theyr’re smoking a cigarette, they’ll ask if you want one. I spent an evening wiht students where everything was shared: the cake, the 2 glasses of water, the 2 coffees, the 2 packs of tabacco… for 8 people. As Europeans, we might wonder why not just everyone got his own cup of coffee. But I like the spirit of this. The “mate”, the traditional drink of the country, is quite representative of this “sharing” spirit. Everywhere they go, they bring this small cup full of herbs with them, along with a thermos of hot water. They fill it up, sip, pass it on to the next one. If they’re at home, they’re having mate. If they’re shopping, they’re having mate. If they’re waiting for the bus, they’re having mate. When they are IN the bus, they’re having mate… Though in this case, it actually depends on the bus company. I have seen signs prohibiting mate as they prohibit to smoke. If they’re driving, they’re having mate. And I have to admit that the moment they are filling up the water makes me kind of nervous. Both hands are oof the steering wheel and they are looking at the mate instead of the road. During those few seconds it’s actually better if you don’t look at the road either.
As Uruguayans bear that “sharing” instinct deep inside them, it seems only logical htat they recently legalized marijuana. Although they didn’t wait for the leglaization to consume it. Until today, I think I have only met two or three people that don’t smoke weed. Which makes them even more tranquil and friendly people than they already are.