What I am most interested in when I’m traveling is meeting people, getting better acquainted with the local habits, the do’s and don’ts. But, of course, the point of traveling is also to see new places.
I got to Montevideo after a 31 hours’ journey, going from Madrid to Rome, from Rome to Buenos Aires, from one airport of Buenos Aires to another (where, who would have guessed, I missed my connection flight) and from there to Montevideo. Did you know there are direct flights from Madrid to Montevideo? Did you know this would have taken 13 hours? Well, so did I. But when you decide to do budget traveling, you start doing those pretty weird things. So I finally got to my destination and there was Valentina, waiting for me, sipping some mate.
I stayed a few days in Montevideo, hosted by Bruno and Nikolas. Having been hosting some people myself in Brussels for the last two years, I decided to travel using couchsurfing. It’s the best way to discover places and to discover how things work in an environment you’re not familiar with. Meeting different people, you also get different points of view on politics, social reality,… Not to mention the fact that you get some company, which, when you’re traveling alone, is more than welcome. I hosted Bruno when he visited Belgium last year and he offered I stay at his place when I would land in Montevideo. And although I will have to leave soon, I have to admit I am starting to feel quite at home here.
I celebrated my 34th birthday on May 20th, the same day as Pepe Mujica, the country’s president who I think is probably the world’s coolest president. He used to be a leader of the Tupamara guerilla, during the dictatorship in Uruguay and spent a few years in prison. As a president, he became famous for breaking the etiquette: he seems to be allergic to ties, refuses to live in the presidential palace, preferring to live in his country house; still rides his 20 year old car, and donates 90% of his salary to charities. During his term of office, Uruguay voted three important laws: abortion, same-sex marriage and the legalisation of marihuana.
The highlight of the day was the cake Cecilia, Bruno’s girlfriend, baked for the occasion. Chocolate cake with dulce de leche. Dulce de leche is literally “milk jam”, a confection which is popular in several Latin American countries but especially in Uruguay. I am just crazy about this stuff. And combined with chocolate it’s… well… mmmmh… Heaven!