Uruguay feels like home. As I have noted on previous blogs, Uruguay is a special place where it appears that government corruption is lower and transparency is higher than many countries including the USA. A recent news story concerning the “poor” President of Uruguay, Jose Mujica is one such example. You can read about it here.
How much money do you really need to be secure and happy? I wonder. Only you can answer that, but it seems that accumulation of wealth in Uruguay for its own sake is not the highest goal – like keeping score. Could it be that wealth invested in doing something positive, like building your community – however you define that may be a higher goal? The “Gordon Gekko” character of Wall Street movie fame may not feel quite at home in Uruguay – except maybe placing his money in Uruguayan banks and partying in Punte del Este. ¿Quién sabe?
Here’s another story from Denis Molloy who just returned from Uruguay. Uruguay is feeling like home to him. Denis writes:
My plane arrived in the early morning in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. I immediately felt a sense of comfort, even in the airport. Why? I think it might be the people first of all. Everyone is neatly dressed, even the maintenance personnel. We had a U.S. air crew, and they are never squared away like the South American crews. I am back in a culture where people in the service business really seem to care about their appearance.
I have arrived at Carrasco Airport several times before and it has a welcoming feel. It is plain in design and looks like it will retain that newness for a very long time. The simplicity of Carrasco is emphasized by the roof over it appearing as a giant bent surfboard.
When I arrived for the first time in Uruguay, it was 5 a.m. Sunday morning. Surprised by the $75 USD cab ride to downtown, I have learned alternate ways to get downtown since then. Nowadays, I merely walk a few steps in front of the terminal and take any bus that says Montevideo for about $2 USD to the Plaza de Indendencia – $73 saved. Any driver will help known when to get off the bus. You will most probably want to stay very close to this Plaza on your first visit. If you need to go a little further, a small cab fee from the Plaza will be much more reasonable than the big ride charge from the airport.
Another suggestion I would offer is a hotel. I don’t always make reservations, but you can if you want. One hotel I suggest, that I most recently stayed as a result of a friend’s referral, is the “Ambassador” (address – Calle San Jose 1212-14 and telephone – [+598]29020012) in Montevideo. My first choice is the Ambassador because the staff seems to care and rooms are clean and reasonably priced. The sycamore lined streets in front of the hotel remind me of Rome. The trees in Rome actually come from South America.
My second choice is “The Oxford” but it is slightly less appealing than the “Ambassador.” Another new one for me is the “Viewport,” about as nice as the “Ambassador,” but it’s closer to the old city. Most hotel prices are about $60-75 USD for a single with breakfast. Prices are rising due to inflation.
The access to affordable restaurants around these hotels also make it very desirable location. My dinner at the “San Rafael” was $23 USD including drinks, a steak, and a tip. This restaurant has a special table reserved for the poet Mario Benedetti who occupied the table for years to dine and work. He is deceased now, but the table is still dedicated to his memory.
For lunch I eat at the food carts along the street which are clean and inexpensive. The food carts have very enticing sandwiches with a multitude of dressings and your choice of relishes.
Ever since my last visit to Montevideo, I have wanted to see the local town golf course that I missed last time. I missed it because it because it’s a private club practically hidden on a hilltop. The “Club de Golf del Uruguay” is surrounded by trees and fences that obscures its view from the general public.
Everything looks just like a stateside golf club. Although it’s a private club, on Mondays non-members are allowed to play free because the club was built on city land so the membership had to agree to one free day open to the public. This was explained to me by the congenial club pro Eduardo Payovich. Eduardo insisted on introducing me to the club president.
The club president was a charming man who welcomed me to his club. He said hoped I would enjoy the club. Eduardo asked if I would like to see the course by cart, and I readily agreed. We visited about half the 18 holes of the 6600 yard course. He stopped to point out vistas every so often.
This course was designed by Alister MacKenzie, who also created Augusta National of Masters fame. The fairways and greens were meticulously cared for, and Eduardo kept insisting that I must play the course. He offered to loan me his clubs to entice me to play. I really must return to try my skill at this historic course built in 1921.
This is the house which was the home of the head green’s keeper. It could easily be mistaken as an old Spanish mission church. Nice digs! Nobody seemed to know why he no longer occupies it.
Many tournaments pro and amateur are held here. The schedule of events is crowded and a devoted membership and staff are diligently at work to keep up the standards of this excellent club in an ideal location.
I cannot wait to play the course next time. Coincidentally, I met a member the day after being shown the course and he has extended an invitation for me to play with him and his group on my next return.
There are many affordable opportunities that exist in Uruguay now. The large city life of Montevideo with its cultural advantages and the resort possibilities along the Uruguayan coast provide a wide variety of life styles.
So you might consider Uruguay as your first or next trip to Latin America. You may like it so well that you will want to stay longer than you think. It’s just another reason to check out the “Switzerland of South America.”
You can learn more about Denis Molloy here.