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Uruguay

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Uruguay is a country in South America. It has a South Atlantic Ocean coastline and lies between Argentina to the west and Brazil to the north. It is the second-smallest country in South America (after Suriname).

Regions

Cities

  • Montevideo – Uruguay's capital, home to well over a third of the country's population as well as architecture, beaches, and festivals
  • Punta del Este – super-popular beach resort
  • Colonia (Colonia del Sacramento) - a well preserved old colonial town and UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Piriapolis – a beach resort, a bit more laid back than Punta del Este
  • Chuy – right on the border with Brazil
  • Durazno – in the heart of Uruguay, featuring festivals and a bit more
  • La Paloma – another summer beach town
  • Paysandu – across the river from Argentina, with hot springs, riverside beaches, and more
  • Salto – located on the border with Argentina and known for its hot springs and historic buildings

Other destinations

Beaches on the Atlantic Ocean:

  • Cabo Polonio
  • Fortaleza de Santa Teresa
  • Punta del Diablo

Understand

The name Uruguay means river of the colorful birds. It is related to the name Guyana: Arawak Guayana, land of many waters.

Often called the Switzerland of South America not for geographical features but for a stable democracy and social benefits such as free education. In 2002 Uruguay faced one of its biggest economic crises which had very negative effects on safety due to the rise in crime, and although the activity levels in 2008 were at pre-crisis levels, crime is still relatively high, but still low for the region. Long a desired country for immigration, Uruguay has been suffering from high levels of emigration for almost four decades, mainly of highly trained workers and people with high level studies (brain drain) seeking better opportunities abroad.

Uruguay has a rich agricultural and civic history among its indigenous people. The dominant pre-20th century live stock driving techniques are still utilized in some areas, and are less visited tourist attractions than the pleasant beaches and city centers. The country has a mostly low-lying landscape. Cerro Catedral, the country's highest point, is 514 m high.

Climate

Uruguay is the only South American country in the temperate zone. The country is flat grassland and all locations are particularly vulnerable to rapid changes from weather fronts and forceful winds as there are no high mountains that could act as shields. As Uruguay is located south of the Equator (approximately at the same latitude as Johannesburg and Sydney), summer and winter are reversed compared to the Northern Hemisphere. In the winter temperatures under freezing are rare but not unheard of.

History

Uruguay was discovered by Spanish Adelantados in the late 16th century, and was part of the United Provinces of the River Plate until 1811. (Although plata literally means "silver" in Spanish, "plate" is the traditional and correct translation as it was used as a synonym for precious metals up until the 19th century.) Originally, Uruguay was simply known as the Banda Oriental, or Eastern Band, of colonies along the eastern edge of the Uruguay and Plate Rivers.

When Buenos Aires expelled the last Viceroy, Baltasar Cisneros, the capital moved to Montevideo. The rebel navy sailed from Buenos Aires in an attempt to overcome the Spanish troops in that city, aided by the local rebel troops.

When Montevideo was finally freed from Spain, Uruguay intended to secede from Buenos Aires, only to be invaded by the Brazilian Empire, which started the Argentine-Brazilian war in 1813. After a variety of confusing twists, the war ultimately ended in a stalemate. With the assistance of mediation by the British government, both warring countries agreed to end their territorial claims on the Banda Oriental in 1828, thus giving birth to the new Eastern Republic of Uruguay. A constitution was subsequently drafted and adopted in 1830. British assistance in the creation of Uruguay led to a long history of British influence (including the habit of driving on the left), which ended only with World War II.

The Argentinian Civil War which ravaged that country during the 19th century was not a stranger to Uruguay, which soon gave birth to two opposing parties, the Whites (liberals) and the Reds (traditionalists) that eventually also led to a Uruguayan Civil War that went on in various hot and cold phases until the beginnings of the twentieth century. The story goes that the parties' colors originally came from armbands allegedly torn from the Uruguayan flag, but the conservatives switched to red armbands when they realized that red faded less quickly in the sun than blue.

However, the simmering tension between the left and right wings of Uruguayan politics persisted. From 1954 to 1967, Uruguay tried an unusual solution borrowed from Switzerland: a collegiate Executive Office in which a different member was designated President every year. In this way, Uruguay became the "Latin American Switzerland" for a while, acting as model of democracy and banking liberties until a military coup ended all this.

A Marxist urban guerrilla movement, the Tupamaros, launched in the late 1960s, led Uruguay's president Juan María Bordaberry to "agree" to military control of his administration in 1973. (They returned the favor by firing him from his job in 1976 and appointing the first of several puppet presidents.) By the end of 1974 the rebels had been brutally crushed (and Tupamaro leader and future president Jose Mujica was imprisoned at the bottom of a well), but the military continued to expand its hold over the government, by engaging in widespread torture and disappearances of alleged insurgents and anyone unfortunate enough to be perceived as opponents of the regime. Civilian and democratic rule was not restored until 1985.

Today, Uruguay's political and labor conditions are among the most free on the continent. In 2004, a leftist coalition (the Frente Amplio or Broad Front) which included the Tupamaros won elections which left them in control of both houses of congress, the presidency, and most city and regional governments. In 2009, former guerrilla leader Mujica was elected president.

Culture

Uruguay has its traditional elements of Gaucho culture, and culturally the country is closest to its large western neighbor Argentina. There are also some Lusitanian influences, like the large Rio-like carnivals in the first months of the year in many cities, the historical old town of Colonia — a Portuguese 17th century outpost and Uruguay's only UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the Portuñol language spoken near the Brazilian border. Amerindian traits can be found in Uruguayan culture, from cuisine to vocabulary, but there is no Amerindian population left. Finally the Uruguayans share the passion for association football/soccer with Argentina and Brazil and the very first world championships were actually held in Montevideo in 1930 — won by the host nation.

Holidays

  • January 1 - New Year's Day
  • January 6 - Children's Day
  • Tourism Week (moveable)
  • April 19 - Landing of the 33 Patriots Day
  • May 18 - Battle of Las Padras
  • June 19 - Birthday of José Gervasio Artigas and Never Again Day
  • July 18 - Constitution Day
  • August 25 - Independence Day
  • December 25 - Christmas

Get in

Holders of passports (or MERCOSUR ID cards) from the following countries can enter without a visa: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, South Korea, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Dominican Republic, Czech Republic, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Seychelles, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela. Travellers from other countries should contact the local consular section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But usually Uruguay has its borders open to tourists and visitors from all countries and it is quite easy to get in or out.

By plane

The country's largest airport and primary hub is Carrasco International Airport, located 20 km east of Montevideo. Carrasco is a relatively small airport and most travelers outside Latin America will have to connect at least once or twice to get there.

From Carrasco there are flights to several destinations in Argentina and Brazil, Buenos Aires and São Paulo having direct connections to many major airports on other continents. Other Latin American destinations include Santiago de Chile, Asunción, Santa Cruz, Lima and Panama. Moreover there are flights to Miami, Madrid and Paris.

Other airports in the country exist, but they have just a one or two flights to Montevideo or Buenos Aires a week — given the short distances and affordable and frequent bus transportation these airports are of marginal use for most travelers. If you are heading to western Uruguay, consider flying into Buenos Aires and continuing by bus or ferry.

The former flag carrier Pluna ceased operations in 2012.

By train

There are no international train lines to Uruguay.

By car

There are land border crossings from both Argentina and Brazil. Some ferries between Buenos Aires and Colonia also carry vehicles.

In Uruguay, drive on the right just like in most of the rest of South America. The highways are in good shape and the speed limit is 90 km/hour to 110 km/hour on most of them but it's not enforced.

You should have the "carta verde" licence to drive in Uruguay, you can find it in the embassy. The legal limit of alcohol contentration is 0.0%—do not drive after drinking.

By bus

There are many buses running from the Brazilian cities of Porto Alegre, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Bus service is very extensive and there are many services that run from Montevideo to different cities across the country. Terminal Tres Cruces, Agencia Central and Terminal Ciudad Vieja are Montevideo's three main hubs. Travel by bus is very safe. International services are available to São Paulo, Porto Alegre, (Brazil), most of the Argentinian provinces (Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Mendoza, Entre Rios), Asunción (Paraguay) and Santiago de Chile. The service is catered and buses have an outstanding level of service, much better than the average European service.

By boat

The Buquebus ferry service operates between Buenos Aires, Argentina, and both Colonia del Sacramento and Montevideo, Uruguay. Some services continue from there to Punta del Este. For the Buquebus-Ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento there are two options. One takes three hours and the other one hour to get there. A ticket to Montevideo for the three-hour ferry is about ARS147 (03/2010) and ARS190 (03/2010) for the fast one.

Colonia Express operates between Buenos Aires and Colonia by one hour ferry and then by bus to Montevideo. Ticket prices to Montevideo from ARS149 (03/2010) or even cheaper in special web offers.

Seacat Colonia operates as well between Buenos Aires and Colonia by one hour ferry and then by bus to Montevideo and Punta del Este. Ticket prices to Montevideo from ARS142 (03/2010).

Get around

By train

There are limited commuter train services around Montevideo, provided by the Administración de Ferrocarriles del Estado. There are some tourist trains which do not have a fixed schedule. You need to find announcements for them at the Montevideo train station, located at the corner of Nicaragua and Paraguay. There is no regular long distance train service. The most usual means of public transport is the bus (local buses inside Montevideo and from Montevideo to other main cities of the country).

By bus

Uruguay has an extensive internal bus system and in practice the only way of getting around between cities if you aren't driving. From Montevideo interdepartmental buses leave from the Tres Cruces station which also serves the international buses. There are often several companies serving the routes and the buses are frequent, safe, comfortable and the fares are affordable.

Depending on the company, tickets can usually be bought online, at bus stations and on board the buses themselves. If you buy tickets before departure you will get a reserved seat, otherwise you can sit at seats that don't happen to be occupied (otherwise there's place to stand in the aisle). At least on board the buses of the COT company there was a separate ticket salesman/inspector on board selling and checking tickets.

By taxi

Taxis in Uruguay are safe and fairly affordable, costing about USD2 per km. All taxis in Uruguay use meters and have fixed costs.

By car

The main highway is the one that goes from Montevideo to Punta Del Este (main tourist city of Uruguay), it is double lane from both sides. However this is the exception and most of the highways are single lane and therefore you should take precautions when driving long distances (a "long distance" in Uruguay is 500 km max), trying to pass another car. Always keep your distance from the car in front of you.

Car rentals

To rent a car in Uruguay, residents of many countries (including the United States) need only their driver's license, passport, and credit card; only residents of certain countries must obtain an International Driver's Permit. Vehicle imports and gasoline are both heavily taxed. Therefore, most Uruguayans prefer to buy cars with fuel-efficient manual transmissions, which in turn means that vehicles with automatic transmissions are rarer and much more expensive. If you can drive a manual transmission, you are looking at about USD $50/day and up, while those who can only drive automatic transmissions (primarily residents of Canada and the United States) are looking at USD90/day and up for a car rental.

It will cost USD60 and up to fill up the gas tank just on a regular small sedan like a Chevy Aveo. Traditionally, the sole gasoline retailer in Uruguay was the state-owned monopoly, ANCAP. (ANCAP is the "National Administration" for "combustibles," alcohol, and Portland cement, hence the name.) Today, ANCAP competes with Petrobras and Esso. All gas stations are full service, so you will need to know enough rudimentary Spanish to tell the attendant to fill it up.

Driving

Driving in Uruguay is very similar to European driving, but with less traffic lights and lots of roundabouts. North Americans accustomed to wild big-city driving (New York or Los Angeles) will not find it too difficult to adapt to. As in many developing countries and parts of Europe, Uruguayans have a tendency to split lanes or make their own lane. Since manual transmissions take longer to spin up, Uruguayans like to watch for the cross-traffic's yellow light and then jump the green about a second in advance, which means you should never run yellow lights if you can brake safely. Many intersections are marked only with yield signs. If you don't see a sign, treat it as a yield. If you see a stop sign ("Pare"), it means stop, please stop, probably because it's a blind intersection and someone was killed there.

Uruguay has not yet implemented sensor loops, so all traffic lights are on timers and you will have to sit there regardless of whether the cross-street has traffic. (Some local drivers will just run the red after sitting for a few minutes if cross-traffic is nonexistent.) Right turns on red after stop are not allowed. Headlights must be turned on at all times while moving.

Like much of Latin America, Uruguay has a fondness for giant speed bumps at the edge of towns the road passes through, this is true also for major roads. These are signed well in advance and require drivers to brake to 20 km/h or less; failure to brake in time will send one's car flying.

Uruguayan law requires drivers to keep both hands on the steering wheel while moving, which means you cannot use a handheld cell phone while driving.

The speed limit ranges between 75 km/h to 110 km/h on most intercity highways, with 90 km/h standard on most stretches. Uruguay does not have any long-distance freeways, expressways, or motorways. Some short stretches of Routes 1 and 5 to the west of Montevideo have been upgraded to freeways.

Look out for pedestrians and slow-moving traffic in the roadway, especially in rural areas and poorer suburbs. Because automobiles are so expensive, many Uruguayans get around solely by foot, taxi, scooter, motorcycle, or bus. Like many developing countries, Uruguay lacks the resources to properly maintain sidewalks in poor neighborhoods, so sidewalks often have cracks, potholes, or worse. Therefore, you will see pedestrians frequently walking in the street even when there appears to be a sidewalk or footpath next to the road.

Navigation

Uruguayan national highways are well-maintained, well-designed, easy to drive, and in excellent condition; they are maintained by the private Highway Corporation of Uruguay (CVU) under the supervision of the National Highway Directorate (DNV). CVU charges a standard toll (U$55 for a regular auto) to traffic in both directions at toll plazas strategically sited throughout the country near bridges over major rivers (where it is difficult to find a toll-free detour). Transitions between CVU/DNV and local department highway maintenance are always marked with large signs (if the jarring change in the quality of the pavement doesn't already make it obvious). Roads under local maintenance tend to vary widely in terms of quality.

The most important long-distance highway in Uruguay is the Ruta Interbalneria linking Montevideo to Punta Del Este, which is a four-lane road with a broad median. Note that the IB was built as what people from western North America call an expressway; that is, cross-traffic still crosses at-grade at intersections rather than at interchanges with overpasses and underpasses. Most other highways are two-lane highways.

It is nearly impossible to obtain paper road maps of Uruguay outside of the country. Fortunately, ANCAP sells an excellent map package at all its gas stations which, as of 2012, includes three maps. Two are large foldable sheet maps. One is an overview-level highway map, which has the entire Mercosur bloc on one side and all of Uruguay on the other. The other is a detailed street map of Montevideo. The third map is a booklet with detailed street maps of all departmental capital cities and several other major cities, including Punta del Este.

Google Maps, Bing Maps from Microsoft, and OpenStreetMap all have excellent coverage of Montevideo, and the first two also have good coverage of the rest of the country. Although there are now mobile apps available which enable users to download OpenStreetMap data in advance to one's mobile phone, OpenStreetMap's coverage of areas outside of Montevideo and Punta del Este is still incomplete.

Another important quirk to keep in mind is that only online map services accurately depict the one-way streets common in Montevideo and other Uruguayan cities and towns. Virtually all Uruguayan paper road maps (including the ANCAP maps and the official maps from the Ministry of Tourism and Sport) lack arrows to show the direction of one-way streets.

Emergencies

Take notice of the emergency phone numbers prominently posted on the highways and keep them in mind. Uruguay is not a dangerous country, but since it is mostly agricultural and very sparsely populated between the towns, if your car breaks down it can take you a long time to walk to the nearest pay phone. It is recommended to carry a cell phone with you. Antel is the state company and the main provider.

By thumb

In rural areas hitch hiking is fairly common and as safe as hitching is anywhere. Uruguay has the lowest level of violent crime in the Americas, outside Canada. If you are female don't hitch hike alone. Play it safe but it's more likely that the car is going to crash (1 in 100 chance) than something bad is going to happen.

Talk

Spanish is spoken everywhere. The pronunciation and the use of the vos pronoun instead of tú is practically the same as the Spanish variety spoken in Argentina, also known as Rioplatense Spanish. However it is remarkably different from e.g. the Spanish spoken in Spain both when it comes to pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. If you are not familiar with the local dialect, be prepared to regularly having to ask people you're talking with to repeat themselves.

Although most Uruguayans have studied English at school, they do not actually speak or use it. However, some Uruguayans have studied English at private institutes, so they can speak it well. Outside Montevideo, Colonia and Punta del Este there are few English speakers. In most tourist spots (shopping centers and in Punta del Este) there is someone who is proficient in English and upscale restaurants and those that cater to tourists often have someone in the staff that speaks English. In practice, knowledge of basic Spanish is indispensable for independent travel in Uruguay.

Portuñol (or Brasilero) is a mixture of Portuguese and Spanish used near the Brazilian border.

If you want to study Spanish in a language academy, you may want to check out the Grupo de Turismo Idiomático, a private sector initiative supported by the Ministry of Tourism.

See

While there are interesting things to see all over Uruguay, the main sights of interest are concentrated on the coastline. Perhaps unsurprisingly the largest concentration of things to see is the capital, Montevideo. There the "father of Uruguayan nationhood", general Jose Artigas rests in a mausoleum under an equestrian statue of himself in the middle of Plaza Independencia surrounded by buildings iconic to the capital such as Palacio Salvo, the old and new presidential palaces, the city gate and the Edificio Ciudadela. Passing through the city gate one will arrive in the old town of Montevideo hosting several museums, old buildings that once were the residences of wealthy families as well as the Puerto del Mercado. Other points of interest not to be missed in Montevideo include the neoclassical parliament building Palacio Legislativo, the Centenario Stadium and the adjacent football museum and the 22 km long beach promenade Rambla stretching along the Atlantic shore with several sights next to or nearby it.

A two and a half hour bus trip west takes you to Colonia del Sacramento, a city established in 1680 by the Portuguese. While the modern part of the city isn't much of a tourist attraction, the barrio historico can pride itself on being the only UNESCO World Heritage site of Uruguay. As it is located a mere one hour from Buenos Aires by catamaran, it is also a popular daytrip for visitors to the Argentinian capital.

East of Montevideo there is Punta del Este, a beach resort popular among the rich and famous and the city where the Los Dedos sculpture and the Casa Pueblo resort museum are located. Not far away from Punta del Este is the city of Maldonado with the lighthouse of José Ignacio. Closer to the capital is the city of Piriapolis where you can visit the Castillo de Piria.

Do

  • One of the best experiences to have while your stay at Uruguay is to watch a football game between Nacional and Peñarol, the two most followed football teams in the nation.
  • Sunbathing, surfing and bathing at the beaches of the Atlantic coast. The most important beaches are in Punta del EstePiriapolisLa PalomaLa Pedrera, Cabo Polonio, Punta del Diablo and Santa Teresa (national park and camping).
  • Birdwatching at Rocha's touristic "estancias".

Buy

Money

The Uruguayan currency is the peso (ISO code: UYU). Prices are often quoted using the U$ symbol, which may be easily confused with the US$ (US dollar) symbol.

Prices on costlier goods and services (over US$100, generally speaking) are often quoted in American dollars instead of pesos, and US dollars are surprisingly widely accepted even at some fast food restaurants. Many Uruguayan ATMs, at least in Montevideo, can dispense US dollars in addition to pesos. Places that cater to foreign visitors often also accept Argentinian pesos or Brazilian reais. As all of these currencies use the symbol "$", check which currency the prices are in if you're unsure.

Credit cards are not as widely accepted as in North America or Europe - smaller establishments often accept only cash (efectivo). Try to have more or less exact change as they even in a mid-size supermarket can have some problems giving you change back if you are paying for U$600 worth of purchases with a U$1000 bill.

Stores

Uruguay is like many developing countries in that the retail industry is still dominated by small specialized shops, small supermarkets, and small, crowded shopping malls. There are no true department stores in the country remotely comparable to the giant stores found in New York or Paris. Even the shopping buildings along Avenida 18 de Julio in central Montevideo are not department stores but collections of 10-20 smaller stores. In the entire country, there is only one true hypermarket, Geant (operated a joint venture between local chain Disco and the French chain Geant), that constitutes a reasonably decent facsimile of hypermarkets elsewhere (down to the huge parking lot, high ceiling and wide aisles). Uruguay does not have the big box "category killer" stores for which the U.S. is famous (and which have been copied to a lesser extent in Australia and Europe).

One quite widespread supermarket chain is Ta-ta. These relatively small supermarkets sell a wide range of products from food and household items to clothes and even things you can bring home as souvenirs. If you've forgotten to bring something for your trip you can probably find it there. Most of them are open seven days a week.

Products

Uruguay does not manufacture most consumer goods locally. Most items in the stores have either been imported from China, or from Argentina or Brazil. Even worse, Uruguay charges high import tariffs and high value-added tax (IVA) of about 22% on virtually everything. Accordingly, imported goods cost as much as in Australia, Canada, or Europe. Uruguayan products on the other hand - chiefly comprised of food and leather products - can be very affordable.

Some parts of Uruguayan stores feature numerous high-quality brands familiar to any North American, like Dove soap, Colgate toothpaste, Listerine mouthwash, Del Monte canned fruit, and so on. There are other brands with familiar logos but strange names; for example, Coca-Cola's South American juice brand is del Valle, which has a logo similar to Coca-Cola's North American juice brand, Minute Maid. However, Uruguay is not a major priority for most other brands found in the developed world, which means their products are rare or nonexistent here. Locally available brands (as noted, imported mostly from China) tend to be of poor quality. Because the Uruguayan market is so small and most Uruguayans are still relatively poor compared to consumers elsewhere, Uruguayan retailers lack the bargaining power of their North American or European counterparts. In turn, Chinese factories often sell their highest-quality product lines to the dominant First World markets and send their mediocre-quality product lines to Uruguay and other small developing countries. For example, while American and European consumers are accustomed to advertisements for luxury bedding made of 700+ thread count textiles woven from Egyptian or pima cotton, luxury bedding in Uruguay consists of 250+ thread count textiles woven from cotton/polyester blends.

Popular items to buy include yerba mate gourds, antiques, wool textiles, and leather goods: jackets, purses, wallets, belts, etc. With regard to textiles and leather goods, although the prices may look like great bargains, one must keep in mind that local designs are inferior to designs elsewhere. Uruguay is still decades behind other countries when it comes to the quality of metalworking, which is a serious problem since leather goods like purses and belts have metal parts like clasps and buckles.

Eat

Uruguayan cuisine is typical for temperate countries, high on butter, fat, and grains, low on spice. It has an important Italian influence due to the strong Italian inmigration. If you are from the Mediterranean, you will find it bland, but if you come from the Northern Europe, Russia or the US, you won't have trouble getting used to it.

Prices

As of May 2014, breakfast for 4 people (a liter of fruit juice and two packages of biscuits) can cost as little as U$100 in a supermarket, a serving of fast food costs about the same while meals in sit down restaurants generally speaking start from U$300.

Restaurants and some other services give discounts if you pay with a foreign credit card. (The discount, which was established by the government to encourage tourism, is technically a reduction in value-added tax.)

Specialties

There are many public markets where you can get a hundred varieties of meat. Vegetarians can order ravioli just about anywhere.

Empanadas (hand-sized meat or cheese pies) make an excellent portable, inexpensive, and delicious snack or lunch. You can find them easily at many corner bakeries.

Uruguay has traditionally been a ranching country, with cattle outnumbering people more than two-to-one, and therefore features excellent (and affordable) steaks. One dish that should not be missed is chivito, a heart-attack-on-a-platter sandwich (some guidebooks call it a "cholesterol bomb") that is made of a combination of grilled tenderloin steak, tomato, lettuce, onion, eggs (hard-boiled and then sliced), ham, bacon, mozzarella cheese and mayonnaise and fries. There are two versions of chivito. Al pan means it's served "on bread", this is the classic variant and it looks like a hamburger served on a plate. If it is served al plato it is like a hamburger minus the bread and often with more vegetables.

Asado is a typical Uruguayan barbeque, consisting of a variety of grilled meats (beef short ribs, sausage, blood sausage and sweetbreads and other offal) over wood coals. Almost all Uruguayans know how to make it and its variations appear on most restaurant menus. For a traditional experience, try it at the "Mercado del Puerto" market, in Montevideo's port area. As many of the European immigrants to the area around Rio de la Plata a century ago came from Italy, Italian dishes have a special place in the local cuisine, often with a local twist. The Central European schnitzel's local relative Milanesa is made with beef instead of pork and is also available as a sandwich.

Uruguay, with its long shoreline, also enjoys an excellent variety of seafood and fish. The flavor of the most commonly offered fish, brotola, may be familiar to people from North America, where it is called hake.

For desserts, dulce de leche, a kind of caramel made with sweetened milk, is found in all manner of confections, from ice cream to alfajores (dulce de leche-filled cookie sandwiches), or Ricardito, a famous Uruguayan dessert (available in all supermarkets).

Drink

Yerba Mate is widely drunk on the streets, but can hardly be ordered in restaurants, as young and old go around with their own cup and thermos bottle on the street there would likely not be anyone ordering it in a café or restaurant if they would offer it. You may have to buy a package at a supermarket and make your own. The drinking gourds are widely available and range from economical to super-luxe silver and horn. Yerba Mate is a social drink. If you are with a group of Uruguayans they will probably offer you some, do be mindful, it may taste somewhat bitter. If you try some it will make everybody happy.

Uruguay is also acquiring a reputation for its fine wines, especially those made from the Tannat grape.

Alcohol is relatively inexpensive. Beer often come in large, 1l bottles that can go for as low as U$50. The two brands found everywhere are Pilsen and Patricia, Zillertal being a distant third. Imports are available too but other Uruguayan brands probably exist but are hard to find.

The most common strong alcohol beverage is surprisingly whisky, even many famous brands such as Johnnie Walker being manufactured in Uruguay under license. A 1l bottle of the cheapest brands can be bought for U$250 in a supermarket.

Sleep

For nature lovers, birdwatchers, and those seeking a respite from the fast-paced world, there are many "estancias" in serene and peaceful environments, surrounded by many species of native and migrating birds, which offer a unique opportunity to reconnect with nature.

There are many more beach houses to rent along the coast than actual hotel rooms. They are plentiful, and outside the high season affordable. During the first two weeks of January it's impossible to find anything, every cottage and hotel room is booked months in advance.

Work

There are numerous English language schools which are looking for native speakers as teachers. They can arrange papers or pay teachers under the table. The pay is not good, but enough to live on in Montevideo. Work permits are not particularly difficult to obtain and Uruguay lets you convert a tourist visa to a work visa without leaving the country. Residency visas without permission to work simply require you prove access to USD500 a month.

Stay safe

Historically, Uruguay has enjoyed a very low rate of violent crime compared to its neighbors. Thus, Argentines and Brazilians traditionally go on vacation in Uruguay because they love not having to worry about being carjacked, kidnapped, or murdered while on vacation. Even today, Uruguay is still relatively free of those types of crimes.

However, this does not mean that Uruguay is crime free. The major differences are that most Uruguayan crimes are either nonconfrontational or do not involve the gratuitous use of firearms. Montevideo in particular has seen its crime rate gradually rise since the severe 2001-2002 financial crisis, and now has moderately high levels of theft, burglary, and robbery similar to those found in major U.S. cities. Fortunately, Punta del Este and most rural areas continue to enjoy relatively low crime levels. As long as you take basic precautions in Montevideo (i.e., use a money belt and/or hotel safe for valuables, look alert, and keep out of obvious slums), you will have a very safe trip.

Cannabis is one of the most widely used drugs in the country and legal as well. Uruguay is the first country in the world where the sale, growth and distribution of cannabis is legal. Regarding the legality of marijuana, possession for personal use is not penalized if it concerns minor quantities (a few grams), either Uruguayan or foreign. Possession of major quantities (for example, one kilogram) is illegal and punishable by law. Remember that the recent legalization of this drug as for the personal use (medicinal or recreational), sale or storage of the plant (~480 grams per year) is only for Uruguayan citizens of 18 years and above (natural or legal citizenship) with legal capacity. Likewise with alcohol, driving under the influence of marijuana is not allowed, and such breach may carry a fine.

In an emergency, call 911 or 999. For firefighters, call, 104.

Stay healthy

Tap water is safe to drink in all major cities. The Hospital Britanico (British Hospital), SUMMUM and BlueCross & BlueShield Uruguay have a European-quality service and they are clean and efficient. Asociación Española, Medica Uruguaya and CASMU are the largest healthcare companies in Uruguay and they have a European-quality level. Just don't make any unwise drinking decisions.

Tropical diseases present in Uruguay include chagas disease. Its prevalence is low and endemic only in the north of the country. Mostly, the only way of transmission is vertical (from mother to child). No vaccine exists against either of these, so you need to watch out for mosquitoes. In practice you won't encounter insects in Uruguay very frequently, at least during the Southern Hemisphere winter.

Respect

Uruguay is a socially progressive country. Women got the vote in Uruguay 12 years before France. Uruguay is a secular state unlike Argentina, Chile or Paraguay; the Uruguayan state has not supported any religion since 1917. The population is mainly Catholic, but not very practicing.

There are a few gay and lesbian bars in Montevideo and in Punta del Este, but outside those two cities there is no public "queer" community. The only public monument to sexual diversity is in Ciudad Vieja (the old city).

However, it was the first Latin American country to pass a civil union law and is considered to be safe and welcoming to gay and lesbian visitors. Uruguay is ranked 6th in the Spartacus Gay Travel Index. Civil unions are legal in Uruguay, which convey the full rights of marriage, and gay and transgendered marriage was legalized in mid-2013. Even in rural areas, gay travelers experience little overt discrimination.

Connect

Telephone

The national landline telephone monopoly is Antel, which provides all public pay phones and is also the sole provider of landline Internet service.

Although Antel pay phones only take Antel's proprietary magnetic cards, it is possible to use international calling cards to call home by taking the phone off the hook, waiting for a dial tone, and dialing the correct access code. However, note that many public pay phones are not properly maintained. If you do not hear a touch tone emitted for each key, that means the phone is defective and you must try another one.

Uruguay's country code is +598. Montevideo and suburbs have phone numbers beginning in two, while the rest of the country has phone numbers beginning with 4.

Antel also operates a cell phone network, and in this field competes with two private companies, Movistar and Claro. All three have numerous kiosks and stores throughout the country. The standard is GSM and both the European (1800 MHz) and North American (1900 MHz) frequencies are used.

Mail

The national postal service is Correo Uruguay. Most of their post offices are very hard to find and are open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday; some are open from 9 am to 12 pm on Saturdays.

Letterboxes for depositing outbound mail are made out of cheap blue translucent plastic and are extremely difficult to find outside of post offices. Some post offices have three boxes: one for the local city, one for domestic mail ("interior") and one for international ("exterior").

Uruguayan letterboxes are designed only for indoor use. Keep in mind that Correos licenses many retailers, such as pharmacies, as postal agents, and letterboxes can sometimes be found around those agents' premises as well.

Internet

Antel is the only provider of landline Internet service, while Dedicado is the main provider of fixed wireless Internet service. WiFi is ubiquitous and can be found in virtually all decent hotels as well as many restaurants, cybercafes, and shopping malls.

Antel WiFi hotspots are normally available only to Antel landline Internet subscribers, unless you are in a place with free service like Carrasco International Airport, in which case a public username and password for free access are prominently posted and always username: antel password: wifi. Dedicado WiFi hotspots are free for everyone.

Some public parks also have free (but unreliable) WiFi provided by the government—look for a network with a name like "Ceibal" or "Ceibalwifi".

Go next

Uruguay borders on Brazil and Argentina. The border of Paraguay, the next closest country, is about 500 kilometers away from the extreme northwest of Uruguay.

Hello, 2017. You’re a sight for sore eyes.

You’re also, so far, a bit of a mystery. Since I started this blog, I’ve never kicked off a year with less travel on my plate. In a way, it’s thrilling — anything can happen! — and in another it’s a little scary. Can I really let a year pass by without ticking one of my dream trips off my list? For someone who often can’t fall asleep at night because they are so consumed by all the places in the world they still have yet to see, it’s kinda of a panic-inducing thought.

Travel Plans 2017

And yet I find myself quite content, settled back in Koh Tao with a bright and cheery little apartment, a faithful little motorbike and unpacked bag nestled in the corner of my closet. As I do weigh up options for the year, I’m torn as always between revisiting old favorites (oh hello, island I’ve been returning to for seven years and currently living on again) and big bucket list dream trips (oh hey there, diving in Mozambique, which I daydream about constantly yet have no plans to actually make a reality).

Anyway, last year’s post outlining my 2016 travels was fairly accurate — it will be fun to see how this one fares!

January-May // Asia

I state this with a pretty inordinate amount of pride for someone who makes a living as a travel blogger, but at the moment literally only like 14 out of the first 120 days of 2017 will be spent not in my bed here on Koh Tao. I need this for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being I am so backlogged on content here on Alex in Wanderland. I just need to lock myself away and furiously type until I’m caught up writing on all my trips! I’ve already nixed two opportunities to travel to new countries in the first quarter of this year, with this being one of my primary reasons.

So what will I be getting up to?

In January, I will spend just three nights off Koh Tao — a quick trip to Bangkok to see my sister off. (In fact, I’ve already come and gone!) I actually wasn’t planning to leave the island at all as I really just got here in December, but alas, I can’t say no to Olivia — nor can I turn down a weekend in one of my favorite cities in the world. In fact, what started as a fun fantasy over the years solidified on this quick jaunt into a very strong determination to rent an apartment in Bangkok for a month or two someday, and see what it’s like to experience one of my favorite places for longer than just a few days at a time. Maybe in the fall that will come to fruition.

Bangkok

I have some pretty exciting plans at home for the rest of the month, though, like a week-long aerial silks workshop with Flying Trapeze Adventures and all my favorite shows re-starting after their winter hiatuses (don’t judge).

In February, I’ll be taking my “big trip” of this Southeast Asia stretch. First, I’m cobbling together a big crew to take to Wonderfruit, a festival in the Pattaya countryside that I couldn’t be more excited about attending. Between the fanciful stages hosting musicians from around the world, the wonderfeasts by some of Thailand’s top chefs, and the workshops on everything from yoga to living a plastic-free life, I’m not even sure which aspect I’m looking forward to the most.

Wonderfruit(source)

After the festival, Ian and I are off to Penang, Malaysia — Ian has to go to process his Thai work permit, and I’m tagging along for fun (and to reactivate my own visa.) I’ve never been to Penang other than in transit and look forward to exploring the city of Georgetown and hiking in Penang National Park. I’m still fairly bitter that the direct flight to Penang from Koh Samui has been discontinued, but alas, I still want to go. Who knows, we might even tack on a few days in Bangkok in-between!

Penang(source 12, and 3)

In March, I currently have no plans to leave Koh Tao. Gasp! Now that you all convinced me to get PRK surgery I am considering blocking off a week to go to Bangkok and do it then, but I also might also put it off until the fall. Back on Koh Tao, there’s going to be a big new festival that I’m pretty excited about (if you haven’t sensed a theme for the year yet, you will soon!)

In April, I’ll pop over to Koh Samui for a few days to meet a friend and possibly attend Paradise Island Festival. Otherwise I’ll be on Koh Tao enjoying Songkran, Easter, and my last long stretch of stillness for a while.

In May, I have a one last little trip in the works before catching my flight to the US for the summer. It’s all in pencil now but it involves a river cruise, showing Ian around one of my favorite Thai cities, and (duh) more Bangkok. Fingers crossed it all works out!

Ayutthaya(source 12, and 3)

May-August // USA

I’ve fallen into a pattern of spending more and more time back in the US every year, however I have to be frank — our current political climate makes me want to spend less time there than ever before. I’m not being defiant or trying to make a statement. It’s just that my heart literally sinks out of my chest every time I think about home, and unless that starts to fade I don’t know how many consecutive months I can walk around with that heaviness. I’ve never felt more disconnected from the place that made me. I’m adrift. Here’s hoping some peace and clarity find me in this department in 2017.

That said, I have three confirmed weddings and one other up in the air, one confirmed festival and a few others on the back burner (wink wink, fellow playa fans!), and lots of family and friends I love dearly and need to catch up with, regardless of what else is happening around us. Here’s a peek:

In May, I’m flying to Florida for the wedding of one of one of my closest high school crew in Sarasota. I’ll also be visiting my girl Angie in Jacksonville, heading to Orlando for a bachelorette weekend I’m planning at Universal Orlando, and hanging with my two favorite aunts in Tampa. I’m obsessed with Florida and would be thrilled if time allowed for me to dip over to Miami to see my cousin Eric, do some diving, or maybe even take that road trip down to Key West I’ve been dreaming of… but allegedly there are only thirty days in this particular month, so we will have to see how flexible the time space continuum ends up being.

Florida(source 12, and 3)

In June, I’m going back to Bonnaroo. Even better? I’m bringing my mom and her boyfriend Miller! The two of them hit it off big time with blogger bestie Kristin this past summer, and we all vowed this would be our year for fulfilling Miller’s dream of making it to ‘Roo. A festival as a family affair? I can’t wait to try it.

In July, I’m going to Maine! This is actually the only new state and/or country I currently have on the docket for the year, which is kind of crazy pants. Another one of my dearest friends from high school is getting hitched in Harpswell, and I’m pining to turn it into an excuse for a full-blown road trip. At an absolute minimum I want to spend a few days in Portland and check out Kennebunkport — and if the calendar shakes out enough days for me, I’ll venture north to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, too!

Maine(source 1, 2, and 3)

In August, I’ll head to Chicago for my cousin Kirsten’s wedding (congratulations to the beautiful bride-to-be!).

Aside from those anchors, the summer is still fuzzy. Here are some maybes: I might be sticking around post-Bonnaroo for a bachelorette party in Nashville. I will most likely be in Martha’s Vineyard the first week of July for family time — and I’m also considering popping over to Nantucket for the Nantucket Yoga Festival! I may have another family wedding in Illinois before the year is out.

And then there’s Nevada. I may return to the playa — Burning Man is still very much on my radar. I may put into action the Nevada road trip I’ve had percolating for the last year or two (I need to see Britney’s revamped show, visit the Seven Magic Mountains art installation and camp in Valley of Fire National Park, stat) so if those came together it would be pretty perfect.

Nevada(source 12, and 3)

Also, some big changes are heading my way and while I’m not ready to discuss them publicly just yet, I might be popping down to Central America for a bit over the summer to let them percolate in private first. More details coming your way soon.

September-December // And beyond…

Nine months down the line is simply too far to predict with too much accuracy where I’ll be. This time last year, I could have never guessed I’d spend these months in the United Kingdom, Hawaii and Jamaica (content coming soon!)

In the last month, as I started to feel the pressure of writing this post and having basically nothing on the horizon — a lot of the above has come together in the last thirty days! — I started to think more about really prioritizing my dream trips rather than just waiting and seeing what the universe throws at me or what’s convenient, as I have fallen into a habit of doing. In fact, I recently started working on actually putting pen to paper and writing a comprehensive travel bucket list, which I may turn into a blog post soon.

So in that spirit, here is a sampling of some of my dream trips that feel feasible for 2017, which I may work on slotting in somewhere from June onward, en route back to my winter basecamp of Thailand.

• Uruguay: I just really want to go here. I don’t know why. I feel like Uruguay is usually an afterthought tacked on to trips to Argentina or Brazil but I’m completely captivated by this little country. Maybe it’s my obsession with tiny nations, maybe it’s my love for their famously humble ex-president, maybe I just like beaches and wine and yoga. Bonus! This would be a new country for me. However, Uruguay’s beach cities and towns have a fairly tiny window of action in December-March, and since I’m in Asia through May this would have to be a December trip.

Uruguay(source 12, and 3)

• Burma, Borneo and/or Brunei: It’s now been eight years since I first began traveling to Southeast Asia, and I regularly marvel that there is still so much I have yet to see. Including both the countries of Burma and Brunei (I still have Timor Leste still to visit as well, but I’m shelving that one for the moment) and the Malaysian state of Borneo. Eventually visiting every country in this region is important to me, and so I hope that either a trip to Burma or a joint trip to Borneo and Brunei is in order for late 2017.

• Jamaica:  I’ve had a Jamaica road trip on the noggin for a while now. My surprise trip here at the end of 2016 (more on that coming soon!) only made taking a big one feel more urgent. I want to rent a car, hit the open road, and explore the raw, soulful side of this island nation in a way that few get the opportunity to do. Unlike Uruguay, Jamaica is a place I’d be thrilled to travel in the low season, and so summer or fall might be the perfect fit.

Jamaica(source 12, and 3)

• Mexico: There’s a glaring un-scratched swath on my scratch-off travel map, and it’s Mexico. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to wait and really do justice to, but I’m starting to think I just need to start somewhere and dive in there and get hooked so I can keep coming back over and over again. It’s hardly unchartered territory, but The Yucatan Peninsula is calling me pretty loudly. Whale sharks of Holbox… here I come! And yup, this would be another new country to add to the list.

3-devide-lines

I have a lot of other dream trips rambling around in my mind — CONTINENT OF AFRICA HI I WANT TO BE IN YOU — but these are the ones that I feel I could realistically tackle right now given my current energy levels and priorities and desires, though clearly, a lot can happen in a year. I think I kind of need a lower-key year in order to get my house in order — lol JK I don’t have a house but it’s a thing people say right? — and get really whipped up into a travel frenzy again for some wild adventures in the future.

When I first began this post I fretted that you all might think it a bit boring. Now that I’ve put it together, I couldn’t be more excited about the year ahead! Festivals, weddings, and so many favorite old places to fall even further in love with.

Love 2017

Okay so now that I’ve dished… what are your travel plans for 2017? Which of these trips are you most excited to virtually come along on?

Looking forward to talking all things travel in the comments!

bison

Photo: Kabsik Park

Bison are back at Banff.

After more than a century, Canada’s oldest national park is welcoming back plains bison. How did they get there? In a shipping container attached to a helicopter. There’s a video. [CBC]

President Trump’s travel ban is bringing U.S. tourism down.

Trump signed an order on Jan. 27 temporarily banning citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States in order to keep out “bad dudes.” Although the ban was temporarily ruled unconstitutional by federal Judge James Robart, flight bookings to the United States dropped 6.5 percent between Jan. 28 and Feb. 4, compared to last year. Flights from the seven impacted countries dropped 80 percent. [CNBC]

But there are people in Europe who like it.

Among those who have praised the travel ban are the leader of France’s National Front Party, Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders from the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom and the leader of the UK’s Independence Party, Nigel Farage. [CNN]

There are only 30 vaquita porpoises left in the world.

They’re called “the panda of the sea” and mostly live in the northern end of the Gulf of California, which separates Baja California from Mexico. They’ve experienced a 49 percent loss in just this past year. But conservationists are on it. [Smithsonian]

Photo by Savethewhale.org.

The Trump family is racking up hella travel expenses.

Eric Trump went to Uruguay recently to visit an unfished Trump Tower in Punta del Este. The secret service went too. The trip cost U.S. taxpayers $97,830. [The Washington Post]

France’s tourism is back on track.

Two years after a string of Jihadist-inspired terrorist attacks, the last three months of 2016 brought a small tourism rebound. The number of nightly stays booked by foreign tourists in Paris hotels increased 4.5 percent. [Reuters]

Northwest national parks realize they had a great year in 2016.

Eighteen million tourists visited the Pacific Northwest parks region last year. [The Oregonian]

The mother of a slain backpacker says her daughter wasn’t killed by terrorists, despite Trump’s claim that she was.

Mia Ayliff-Chung was a 20-year-old British citizen who was killed in an Australian hostel last year while traveling with a friend. President Trump has claimed her murder was a terror attack that was ignored by the media — it was included on a list of 78 killings that the White House claims were inspired by ISIS. Ayliff-Chung’s mother, Rosie Ayliff, says no, that’s incorrect. Links to terrorism were quickly ruled out last year. [NBC]

Washington state is like, “Give us more tourism!”

Washington eliminated its tourism office back in 2011, but lawmakers are now pushing to contribute $5 million from every two-year budgeting cycle to the Washington Tourism Marketing Authority. [The Journal Times] More like this: Action alert: reject Trump's Muslim ban

Photo: Rob Briscoe

As a parent,

I used to think about travel experiences that would keep things easy and comfortable for everyone involved. I took Ava, my horse-obsessed daughter, to Lexington, Kentucky to basically visit every horse within a three hour radius of the city. I took my surfer daughter Stella to the beaches of Uruguay. I took Noah to Galapagos where he chilled with the giant tortoises.

All good, but I’ve found that these experiences are not the ones that have shaped them the most, not the ones they end up talking about years later.

The ones that have are the ones that initially scared the shit out of them.

One of Ava’s biggest fears is open water, so I took her scuba diving in Puerto Piramides in Peninsula Valdez of Argentine Patagonia. For days before she threw out a lot of sassy teenager “I am NOT going”, but, lucky for me, she happens to get her stubbornness from her mother. We went.

Two days before, I planned snorkeling with frolic-y sea lions with Patagonia Divers, because I couldn’t imagine that anyone with half a heart couldn’t enjoy playful, curious sea lions. It was basically baby steps toward scuba. After scoping out the friendly animals, she was the first one in the water and the last one out, GoPro in hand and a beaming smile on her face, ready to rock Instagram the second she got back online (I’ve found this to be a successful tool in getting kids to do things they are afraid of — make the activity social media-worthy, and before you know it, they will be hashtagging #yolo and #travelstoke pretending like they have been psyched about this activity all along.  Okay, maybe not #yolo. As soon as I wrote that I can just imagine my kids rolling their eyes, saying “that is SO 2014”).

It’s normal that kids feel fear, but I don’t think it’s okay if we let them dwell in it.

Scuba day came and as soon as she saw all of the equipment and heard about orca sightings that morning, everything became much more real. She turned quiet and pale, but impressed the hell out of me when the guide asked who wanted to go first and she raised her hand. The twenty minutes she was under were long for me, not being able to know how she was reacting, what she was going through emotionally. Watching her surface to give me a thumbs up sign was so gratifying — she had faced a fear head on and came out the other side a champ.

My son experienced something similar with white water kayaking.  We signed up for a weekend intensive course, not having any experience. I think we both imagined ourselves cruising down the river, one with the current, looking fierce AF. Instead, every practice roll made us both feel intense panic, wanting to scream and cry from the claustrophobia of feeling trapped in the kayak submerged underwater, basically hating life and the fact that we voluntarily signed up for this waterboarding.  After a few practice rolls he decided that he would spend the afternoon instead practicing his paddling technique and turns. I could see that the rolls had him as terrified as they had me. I was so beat up emotionally and physically that when the next morning of the course came, over coffee and French toast I found myself inventing super lame excuses of why I might not be able to go kayaking that day.

Noah called me out on it and informed me, the supposed mom in the situation, that he thought about it and the only way out was through. We would be afraid until we confronted the fear completely. And that meant getting in the kayak and rolling. All day long until it became no biggie emotionally. And at the end of the day when the instructor asked who wanted to continue with the sport, he was one of the very few who confidently raised his hand.

It’s normal that kids feel fear, but I don’t think it’s okay if we let them dwell in it, or if we plan all of their experiences tiptoeing around it. Create travel experiences that will drive them towards the fear and accompany them as they safely confront it. These are travel moments that will shape them into being stronger, more adventurous, and more resilient human beings. More like this: I have two daughters I adore. But here's why I actually love it when they feel fear

ONCE ECLIPSED by California’s gastronomic glamor and the bright lights of Vegas’s celebrity chefs, Arizona is coming into its own as a culinary hotspot. Tucson was named America’s first UNESCO World City of Gastronomy in 2016. Several months later, Taco Guild in Phoenix nabbed one of the top five spots for best Mexican grub in the country on Travel Channel’s Food Paradise.

All of this national attention has made the 48th State a killer home for cutting-edge cuisine. Here are a dozen Arizona chefs and restaurants that are red-, white-, and blue-hot right now.

THE CHEFS

Chef Michael Powell of Simplicit (Tucson)

Chef Mike Powell

Photo: The Cable Show

Don’t let the laid-back attitude fool you — Tucson chef Michael Powell started serving patrons at Simplicit less than a week after completing the paperwork to start his new restaurant at Tucson’s Temple of Music and Art. That’s record timing for UNESCO’s first American City of Gastronomy (and even faster than ex-Google employee Hetal Shah could whip up a surprise Indian eatery, August 1 Five, in San Francisco). An Arizona native, Powell’s intimate Mediterranean cuisine is largely inspired by his Cyprus-born grandfather’s home cooking.

Chef Nobuo Fukuda of Nobuo at Teeter House (Phoenix)

How many chefs get their own movie? Granted, it’s a small documentary film, but James Beard award-winning chef Nobuo Fukuda made headlines when culinary cinematographer Andrew Gooi (Food Talkies) released a 46-minute flick about the chef in January 2017.

It’s been over a decade since Fukuda first gained national attention; he was recognized by Esquire’s John Mariani and Food & Wine some 15 years ago, and he took home that James Beard Award in 2007. Today, Fukuda can be found slicing and dicing in his circa-1899 cottage-turned-izakaya (a bar serving small dishes and snacks), Nobuo at Teeter House.

Chef Scott Conant of Mora (Phoenix)

Chef Scott Conant

Photo: Eric McGregor

Arizona foodies started salivating the second that celebrity chef, Food Network star, and noted onion-hater Scott Conant relocated to Metro Phoenix in 2016. Known for his handcrafted pastas and his work judging quick-fire cooking competitors on Chopped, Conant is also a CIA graduate — that’s Culinary Institute of America, not Central Intelligence Agency — and winner of the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in 2003.

In January 2017, he opened a new Italian concept, Mora, with longtime Phoenix restaurateur Stefano Fabbri. The menu is still in flux, but one thing is likely — you won’t find any raw red onions here.

Chef Stephen Jones (Phoenix)

Chef Stephen Jones didn’t follow his childhood dreams of being a star on the football field. That’s great news for the rest of us, who can now be ever-grateful that he chose the kitchen instead.

The 30-something culinary wunderkind made a name for himself locally at Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails before opening a trio of eateries inside the eclectic Desoto Central Market in downtown Phoenix. His Cheetos-dusted fried pig ears left a trail of sticky orange finger breadcrumbs straight to our collective foodie hearts, and his $30,000 grand-finale win against Robert Irvine on Guy’s Grocery Games solidified his standing in the culinary community.

Don Guerra of Barrio Bread (Tucson)

Don Guerra

Photo courtesy of Barrio Bread

Phoenix native Don Guerra is more than just a baker. Part cook, part artist, and part food-scientist, he uses slow fermentation processes and locally sourced grains to craft fresh-baked breads in the tradition of his mother and grandmother at Tucson’s Barrio Bread.

Prior to starting in the food biz, Guerra was an anthropology student at University of Arizona and later taught elementary school in Tucson. Now, he teaches Arizonans how to work with heritage grains like ancient Khorasan wheat, and how to appreciate the art that is real bread.

THE RESTAURANTS

Shift (Flagstaff)

Denver transplants Joe and Dara Rodger are major overachievers. After a stint at the renowned Tinderbox Kitchen in Flagstaff, the husband-and-wife team shifted Flag’s culinary scene with the addition of an upscale — yet unpretentious — restaurant that goes beyond seasonal menus and open kitchens. Shift’s exposition kitchen sports a dining counter that puts guests up close and personal with the chefs, and the rotating menu of progressively larger dishes incorporates local ingredients like butterscotch bread pudding and spring vegetables with fazzoletti pasta.

Mariposa (Sedona)

Mariposa Sedona Arizona

Photo: Lauren Topor

Named one of Zagat’s Five Hottest Restaurants in Sedona, Mariposa is the brainchild of restaurateur and world traveler Lisa Dahl (Dahl & DiLuca). Her travels through Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay influenced the cuisine, with tapas plates like Ecuadorian shrimp ceviche and chorizo-spiked mussels leading the global menu. The floor-to-ceiling windows exposing Sedona’s red rock buttes alone make Mariposa worth a visit, though the butter-slathered filet and minty salmon might also inspire a few returning customers, too.

Modern Round (Peoria)

If you thought the Greek tradition of breaking plates during a meal was odd, brace yourself. The idea of getting loaded at dinner takes on a double meaning at Modern Round, a new restaurant opened by a former Smith & Wesson executive. Diners can fire off replica AR-15s at VR zombies, animals, and other targets while downing Arizona-grown Angus Beef and fried-dill-pickle chips. And, yes, you can go back and read that sentence again.

Arizonans are such fierce innovation-lovers that the city of Peoria actually paid Modern Round over half a million dollars to settle here. Not hard to see why…even those who don’t identify as gun nuts can’t help but be intrigued.

Fat Ox (Scottsdale)

Fat Ox Scottsdale Arizona

Photo: Lauren Topor

On the surface, Fat Ox comes off shiny and almost a little too done up. But under the glitz and glam, this new Italian joint has two extraordinary cooks — co-founder Matt Carter of Zinc Bistro and chef de cuisine Rochelle Daniel, formerly of L’Auberge de Sedona — slaving over pots of boiling water. Housemade pasta dough is rolled in small batches for an exclusive feel, and the shapes are quirky (seriously, who this side of Sicily has heard of casoncelli?). More than just noodles, Fat Ox also satisfies label-obsessed omnivores with high-end meats including a $110 dry-aged porterhouse, Jidori chicken, and Duroc pork.

Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room and Osteria (Cottonwood)

Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan nailed it when he opened a tasting room for his moderately priced Merkin Vineyards wines. Unlike his fancier Caduceus Cellars stop-off in Jerome, this vino joint serves homey pasta dishes and garden greens to help soak up those sulfites. To seal the deal, Keenan rocks it local with Arizona grapes, Top Knot Farms poultry and beef, and produce from his Verde Valley orchard.

Barrio Café Gran Reserva (Phoenix)

Silvana Salcido Barrio Cafe

Photo courtesy of Barrio Cafe

Tucked along a tree-lined section of Grand Avenue in downtown Phoenix, this new outpost of Silvana Salcido Esparza’s Barrio Café allows the James Beard nominee to showcase her talents with ever-evolving dishes and a menú de degustación (think “chef’s choice”). Signature dishes like Esparza’s tasty cochinita pibil — pork marinated with tangy achiote — make an appearance, but it’s the historic pie factory digs, intimate dining room, and special tasting menu that make dining here feel like you’re spending a night in Esparza’s private cocina.

Contigo Latin Kitchen (Tucson)

Enrique Iglesias isn’t the only one who wants to live Contigo. After an unexpected closure, this longtime Tucson favorite reopened at the Westin La Paloma resort last year with a fresh new menu of heirloom Spanish dishes. Look for chimichurri-marinated lamb, chorizo-stuffed dates, and flavorful tapas, washed down with a glass of sangria. Enough said.

 

Arizona_GCS_blue-green logo This post is proudly produced in partnership with the Arizona Office of Tourism. Advertisement

 

My daughter isn't really into travel

Photo: Allef Vinicius

I’m a travel writer and editor and all-around wanderlust junkie. I guess I had always assumed that any kids of mine would turn out the same. While my 14-year-old daughter Stella looks to be heading down the backpacker/travel writer path and will probably put my extensive travels to shame one day, my 16-year-old daughter just isn’t that into it. She would rather hit up Lollapalooza than Laos, would rather check out the shopping mall than the Sahara. It confuses me, it annoys me, but here’s how I have learned to deal:

Just because she has other priorities now doesn’t mean they won’t change.

People change, that’s a given. Just because she isn’t interested in travel right now doesn’t mean that something won’t spark it for her later. Maybe it will be a boyfriend who invites her on a romantic surf trip to Uruguay. Maybe it will be accompanying her best friend on a rowdy road trip to Buenos Aires. Maybe it will be her dream job offer that happens to take her to Thailand.

It’s passion that I want to see her have. It doesn’t necessarily matter for what.

Travel makes me feel alive. It makes me feel like I am growing and learning. It makes me feel both independent and it makes me feel like I have community. I want my daughter to feel all of these things, and maybe she will because of her love of horse riding, or maybe because of a fashion business she starts. If she really knows what it feels like to be passionate about something, does it really matter if it didn’t come because of travel?

My travels are an example for her regardless.

She doesn’t have to accompany me on trips or even understand my love of travel, but what I hope she at least sees is a mom who is in love with life. A mom who has abundant curiosity and follows it. A mom who wants to question and be questioned while interacting with foreign cultures. A mom who takes risks, who throws herself into the unknown, and who trusts that everything on the road will work out to be one grand adventure no matter what.

Travel does not have to be somewhere far away or exotic.

I tend to think that travel doesn’t ‘count’ unless it’s a 38-hour plane ride away or in a place where I don’t speak a word of the language. I had to realize that while my daughter would probably not get excited about a girl trip to Rio, she could enjoy a weekend together at a spa in a cute little mountain town nearby (with good shopping). For her, being away from home was travel. In the end, we were spending time together in a new place, so that had to be considered a win-win.

She helps me to clarify exactly what I love about travel.

“You’re going to Kenya? Why the heck would you want to go there?”, “Why do you want to go hiking? Don’t you see enough trees from our back yard?” This type of constant questioning forces me to share exactly what it is about the adventure that excites me, what I hope to do, see, and learn there.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through parenting is to embrace and celebrate each child’s individuality. I’m not here to make a little mini-me. As long as my travels inspire her in some way (even if it’s not to actually travel), and she fosters passion within her towards something that makes her glad to be alive, I’ve learned to be good with the fact that she couldn’t care less about travel. More like this: We're a family that hosts travelers from all over the world. Here's how many bad experiences we've had.

I read once that local of Rio often say “tenha uma boa praia,” or “have a good beach” over the much more standard translation for “have a good day.” It’s a culture-revealing phrase not unlike Thailand’s famous “gin khao reuyang?”, a way of asking “what’s up?” which literally translates as “have you eaten rice yet?”

In much of Brazil, the beach isn’t a place you go for a few hours on vacation. It’s a lifestyle. I was warned ahead of time that Rio in particular has a strict beach etiquette and rules that had to be heeded — luckily when it comes to all things sand and sea, I’m a quick learner.

Despite wildly overscheduling my trip and visiting in autumn, when Brazil’s beaches are lightly buzzing but not overblown with people, I managed to hit the beach in Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro, Buzios, and Jericoacoara. Here are a few strict rules I learned along the way — the rare kind that are more fun to follow than to break.

Brazilian Beach Culture

Take as little as possible

The frumpy schlep of coolers and chairs and endless beach supplies is a major faux pas in Brazil. A towel in particular is considered a horror-inducing no-no. A canga (the Brazilian term for a sarong), some cash, and maybe a volleyball are basically the only acceptable items to take — anything else you need can be supplied on the sand.

Cangas are fabulous alternatives to towels — they can be worn as cover-ups walking to and from the beach, they can be laid out on the sand to lie on, they can be used as scarves and towels and a million other purposes in a pinch. In my mind, they are a travel essential! They also make for amazing gifts and souvenirs — Ilha Grande in particular was a fun place to shop for a few.

Brazilian Beach Culture

Wear as little as possible

In Brazil, tops stay firmly on – regardless of how small – but another body type entirely is on display. You can’t talk about Brazilian beaches without talking about butts. Women of every age and every size subscribe to the “suns out, buns out” line of thinking, and men don’t stray far behind with their own sunga swimsuits, a kind of modified speedo that would leave most American men recoiling in horror. Why put any extra fabric between your body and the beautiful sun, sand and sea, the thinking seems to go?

I quickly purchased several teeny, cheeky bikini bottoms for myself after receiving several stare-downs for wearing a fralda (or “diaper”, as Brazilians refer to the more full-coverage American bikini). Believe it or not, wearing more modest American styles is apt to draw even more attention than a teeny tiny thong — you’ll stand out as a gringa and some say make yourself more of a target for petty crime from those who target tourists!

Brazilian Beach Culture

While I felt seriously self-conscious at first letting my cheeks and inhibitions fly, I just looked around the beach for inspiration — Brazilian women appear unburdened by the body-hang ups that plague many other cultures, and I marveled at the confidence that strutted down the sand in so many different shapes and sizes.

One government worker from Brasilia who I met while she was vacationing in Jericoacoara told me she dreamed of visiting Miami, but the horror of wearing an American bathing suit had stopped her so far. I am afraid people will look at me in my bikini, but, I just cannot wear that diaper! I cannot!

Brazilians are known as some of the sexiest people on the planet and having shared the sand with them, I feel like I now know their secret — it’s confidence! It speaks to the major difference in our cultures that I uploaded and deleted the following photo so many times, wondering if it was inappropriate to post on my own dang travel blog, even though it’s a beautiful photo that I love taken by one of my closest friends — because the wrong square inches of skin are showing. In Brazil, a grandmother wouldn’t bat an eye wearing these bikini bottoms to the beach with her family. I love this aspect of Brazilian culture!

Brazilian Beach Culture

Say yes to snacks

It’s almost considered rude to bring your own food to the beach in Brazil. Acai cups, caipirinhas, seasoned cheese on a stick, iced tea, puffed crisp Globo and empanada vendors will walk along the beach calling our their offerings and you simply wave them over if interested. Eating out is incredibly expensive in Brazil and so sitting on the beach and grazing on snacks all day is not only fun, it’s also a great way to balance out the pricy dinner you might go out for later.

The very cool thing that I loved was that unlike in other countries where you apparently sign a blood oath to make a purchase if you so much as accidentally make eye contact with a beach vendor, the Brazilian ones were fairly low key and didn’t mind if we called them over to take a look and then decided not to buy. Everything was low-key and done with a smile. (We did encounter one over-aggressive bikini salesman who had a hard time hearing no in Copacabana, but he was the exception to what seemed to be the chilled out rule.) Normally I loathe beach vendors but in Rio they were one of my favorite things about the city.

The other beach cities I visited didn’t necessarily have the roaming vendors walking around, but they did have little stands where you could grab any snack you’d need.

Brazilian Beach Culture

Understanding Brazilian Beach Culture

Understanding Brazilian Beach Culture

Where you beach matters

In Rio especially, all sand is not made equal. The city’s main southern beaches stretch across over five miles of shoreline and are divided by 12 postos, or numbered lifeguard stations. These are for more than just giving directions; they are for finding your tribe. There is a saying in Brazil that you can tell everything you need to know about a person by three things: their favorite soccer team, their favorite samba school, and which posto they lay their canga at.

Understanding Brazilian Beach Culture

While Copacabana is the most widely-known to foreigners, it’s far from the hip place to be among Cariocas, or Rio residents. We spent an afternoon on touristy Posto 4 in Copacabana but far preferred the trendy, see-and-be-seen Posto 9 in Ipanema, where we spent two beach days in Rio. Certain Postos denote gay beaches, family beaches, and beyond.

Each posto is lined by barracas, semi-permanent beach bars where you can buy fresh coconut water, cold beer, and more caipirinhas, and also hire beach chairs and umbrellas. I was particularly enamored with Barraca Uruguay at Posto 9, both for the lively atmosphere of the easy-on-the-eyes crowd and the fact that the employees were primarily from Uruguay and Argentina, which meant we could chat in Spanish.

Brazilian Beach Culture

When you beach doesn’t really matter

Because there’s never a bad time to be at the beach. We were pretty amazed that even on a Monday in May, the beaches of Rio were pretty darn busy. While summer (December-February) is certainly the most popular time for Brazil’s beaches, don’t expect to ever have the popular ones to yourself. But no worries — that’s part of the fun!

Brazilian Beach Culture

Watch your stuff

This is probably fits int he “duh” category for most travelers, but don’t go swimming in the sea and leave your stuff unattended. Brazil’s crime problem is pretty notorious so I’m guessing most travelers don’t need to hear this, but it does warrant a warning. If you’re really blending in with Brazilians, you brought next-to-nothing to the beach (kudos!) but if you’re like me and can’t resist bringing your phone and camera, too, ask a trustworthy-looking neighbor to watch you things while you go for a dip.

It’s common practice in Brazil and as a bonus, is a great way to get your feet wet with Brazil’s notoriously social beach vibes (see what I did there?)

Understanding Brazilian Beach Culture

Don’t you dare bring a book

I’d read before my trip that Brazilians almost never read or listen to music with headphones in at the beach. Well, they can do what they want but I’m going to read my darn magazine, I thought, stubbornly throwing an old issue of Afar into my tote en route to Ipanema.

Yeah, no. I didn’t crack a single page. The beaches of Rio are alive in a way that you just can’t look away from. Impromptu fútball games, flirty chats with the barraca boys, beach vendor picnics…. who could read when there’s so much to do and see?

Brazilian Beach Culture

I suddenly understood the disdain for towels and personal beach chairs. Some beach-goers, I noticed, more or less spend the whole day standing. If they aren’t already engaged with someone, they are scanning the crowd and checking out the scene. It’s one of the most hyper-social situations you can be in, and the people-watching is unmatched.

Heather and I weren’t even being particularly outgoing; with our busy schedules our beach days did double duty as our hangover days and we were still just soaking it all in and getting into the Rio groove. Yet one day, we had a long, in-depth conversation with an empanada entrepreneur around our age who plopped down on the sand to answer our questions about the legalities of beach selling, and on another it only took two trips to our barraca for coconut waters before I was politely asked for my phone number by a cute Argentinian who intended to take me on a date. Some things are worth skipping the next chapter in your beach read for!

Brazilian Beach Culture

Brazilian Beach Culture

Brazilian Beach Culture

Brazilian Beach Culture

Brazilian Beach Culture

Stay for sunset

Don’t leave, the party is just getting started! Sunset on the beach in Brazil is, quite simply, a must. In Ilha Grande, we booked a hostel on the water so we’d never miss one. In Rio, we took it in at Aproador where a huge crowd had gathered to watch surfers and sip caipirinhas delivered by an enterprising local with a cooler. In Jericoacoara, it was a nightly ritual for the entire town.

Understanding Brazilian Beach Culture

Understanding Brazilian Beach Culture

Understanding Brazilian Beach Culture

Understanding Brazilian Beach Culture

Understanding Brazilian Beach Culture

Understanding Brazilian Beach Culture

. . .

It’s no secret that in many ways I found Brazil to be a frustrating and challenging country. And yet all that seemed to melt away when I was by the sea — I left Brazil completely enamored with its unique and special beach culture.

As much as I loved the tours I went on and the attractions I took in, I vowed that my next trip will involve summer, and include about four times as many unscheduled days to do nothing but plop my bare bum on the beach and watch the Brazilian world go by.

Brazilian Beach Culture

So Brazilians — and Brazil lovers! — tell me what I missed! 

3-devide-lines

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Understanding Brazilian Beach Culture

Understanding Brazilian Beach Culture

3-devide-lines

Of course, a few days baking in the Brazilian sun hardly make me a cultural anthropologist — please forgive me any misinterpretations of the local culture, and feel free to set me straight in the comments if I’ve erred!

Moving to Uruguay

Juan Ignacio Pita

Moving to Uruguay is full of first-hand information on what it’s really like to move to this small nation. Written from the perspective of an expat and a Uruguayan, it is bursting with need-to-know information, from big things like how to get a visa to smaller things, such as a breakdown of customs unique to Uruguay. The guide is laid out in an easy-to-read manner to avoid overwhelming the reader. We also provide links to useful websites and apps that Uruguayans themselves use to make their lives easier. Inside Moving to Uruguay: • Advice and references to help you decide if it is actually feasible to move. • Language and culture help to put you in the Uruguayan mindset. • A guide to expat renting and a breakdown of the different cities and neighbourhoods. • An introduction to the school system with details of different schools and créches. • Personal tips coming straight from our experience and mistakes. • Photos to show you day-to-day life in Uruguay. • A list of contacts for over 100 different hobbies to kick off your social life. • Over 30 categories full of relevant, up-to-date information. Written and researched by Claire O’Brien and Juan Ignacio Pita - Feeling Abroad

Uruguay (Bradt Travel Guide)

Tim Burford

They won the first soccer World Cup and there's a lot of beef raised on the pampa. That's all most people know about Uruguay. Bradt's Uruguay remains the only dedicated English-language guide to a country that's small yet bursting with character showing that the adventurous tourist can uncover much more. It provides in-depth coverage of the capital Montevideo, where the colonial Old City is being restored. There's also detailed information on the coastal city of Colonia (which is on UNESCO's World Heritage List) as well as Punta del Este, where the Buenos Aires beautiful crowd flocks to the beaches each summer. There's advice, too, for active travellers who can rattle their whips on cattle-ranching estancias and spin their sticks in a game of polo or two and for nature enthusiasts keen to watch wildlife in the western wetlands and birds in Cabo Polonio and Santa Teresa. Plus, the book investigates the Brazilian influences behind Uruguay's music and dance, and the country's Afro-Uruguayan culture, most noticeable in Carnaval.

Guru'Guay Guide to Montevideo, The

Karen A Higgs

The Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo is the first REAL insider’s guide to Montevideo, capital of Uruguay, and still one of South America’s off-the-radar destinations. Up until now it's been virtually impossible to find a good guidebook on Uruguay. Why? Because they are written by people who fly in for a week and then leave. This guide is by a Spanish-speaking Brit, resident since 2000. While the guide focuses on Montevideo, it's indispensable for anyone visiting Uruguay.

Features in-depth information on:

LOGISTICS

flying into Uruguay, including a candid look at airlines to avoid getting to (or from) Montevideo from Buenos Aires The fastest, cheapest and most leisurely routes best time to visit and how long to stay Insights only a long-term resident can give public holidays when Montevideo pretty much shuts down, so it's essential to know when they are and festivals you must not miss, like the mysterious Sea Goddess celebrations best neighbourhoods to stay based on your personal preferences architecturally-lovely accommodation Options for all pockets personal safety Dispelling myths and tips specific to neighbourhoods getting around on public transport like a local driving and car rental The logic in seemingly erratic traffic patterns and driving habits tipping demystified eg why you don't tip taxi drivers but do tip street parking attendants money exchange including troubleshooting ATM withdrawals

THINGS TO DO

guided tours to wine, marijuana, soccer, carnival and more great day trips, from UNESCO heritage site Colonia de Sacramento, to glitzy Punta del Este, to the Santa Lucia wetlands architectural highlights in possibly the city with the biggest concentration of Art-deco after New York art museums and underground art coops beaches including which of the 10 is best for children, windsurf and boat rental, etc shopping and buying original gifts Really. Ever heard of a guidebook that helps you with this thankless task? shopping for wine-lovers Wow, right? Where to go to get expert advice and dah goods why Carnival in Montevideo is so unique and where and when to track down the best (and worst) of carnival, even off-season tango Here tango is something the locals do, it's not “for export”. One milonga, or dance salon, even takes place in a living room. the best live music and live acts that Montevideo has to offer Tiny Uruguay has a huge share of highly talented musicians. Pay under 10 USD to see a world-class band in a tiny cafe. gay Montevideo has a small but charming scene

FOOD & DRINK

what time the locals eat and how Uruguayans survive through to a 10pm dinnertime street food wine and craft beer from Uruguay are winning prizes internationally. The guide points you to which to try and why restaurants for people desperate for gourmet and veggie options restaurants for wine-lovers historic cafes The most charming, and the grittiest

SOCIETY & CULTURE

history How did this tiny country get to be so progressive? Your burning questions answered. the Uruguayan character, a chapter of entirely personal anecdotes that illustrate that Uruguayans (from presidents to petty thieves) are friendly and down-to-earth expressions EVERYONE uses on the street and what they mean films to watch, albums to listen to and books to read before you come

URUGUAY Country Studies: A brief, comprehensive study of Uruguay

CIA

A brief yet detailed report on the country of Uruguay with updated information on the map, flag, history, people, economics, political conditions in government, foreign affairs, and U.S. relations.

Uruguay / Montevideo Travel Reference 1:800K/1:10K ITMB

ITMB Publishing LTD

This edition is significantly altered in its updated form to justify a fresh ISBN. Most of the changes are more technical than visual, although the style of the map appears different as a result. Most of the changes occur on the Montevideo side of the sheet, thanks to our reasonably recent visit to the city. Uruguay is one of those smallish but nice places to visit. The interior is mostly ranching country, but pleasant to see. Colonia, across from Buenos Aires, is well worth a visit and Punte del Este on the Atlantic shore is the local Miami Beach. For my money, the best thing about Montevideo is the old Coca Cola fountain shop right out of the 1920s. It s like moving back in time!

The Uruguay Amethyst (An Ainsley Walker Gemstone Travel Mystery)

J.A. Jernay

“Well-paced and skillfully told, with an outstanding sense of place, an enjoyable main character, and entertaining supporting cast.... [It] swept me off my feet.” -- Venus de Hilo, 5-star review “A delightful book – it will enchant you with exotic places and interesting characters.” -- Linda Osborn, 5-star review For fans of Nora Roberts and Janet Evanovich…. Dumped by her husband just as he finishes law school, and disillusioned by her loss of another unsatisfying office job, Ainsley Walker is approaching thirty with nothing to show for it. THEN She accepts an offer from an elderly art dealer to travel to the country of Uruguay—the forgotten jewel of South America—to purchase a valuable amethyst treasure, El Árbol Negro. In a runaway adventure that propels her from historic auction houses to remote villages, from beef ranches to elite beach resorts, Ainsley finds joy, pain, friendship, duplicity, and murder— --and, most importantly, a new purpose in life. From an author who worked on the foreign desk of The Washington Post … …who explored North and South America for nearly twelve months… … who was a finalist in a prestigious short story contest sponsored by the estate of F. Scott Fitzgerald … …comes a travel adventure that will change the way you see your life. Second in the series.

Fodor's Buenos Aires: with Side Trips to Iguazú Falls, Gaucho Country & Uruguay (Full-color Travel Guide)

Fodor's Travel Guides

Written by locals, Fodor's travel guides have been offering expert advice for all tastes and budgets for 80 years. The most European of South America's capitals, Buenos Aires charms with its cobbled streets and wrought-iron balconies and dazzles with fast-paced tango dancing, thrilling soccer matches, and a seemingly endless array of eateries and nightclubs.This travel guide includes:· Dozens of full-color maps · Hundreds of hotel and restaurant recommendations, with Fodor's Choice designating our top picks· In-depth breakout features on dance, Iguazu Falls, and cowboys· Major sights such as Parque Tres de Febrero, Calle Museo Caminito, Plaza Dorrego, and Museo Evita · Side Trips from Buenos Aires including Buenos Aires Province, Iguazu Falls, Montevideo, Colonia del Sacramento, and Punta del Este· Coverage of Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, Gaucho Country, and Uruguay Planning to visit more of Argentina? Check out Fodor's country-wide travel guide to Argentina.

Total Uruguay Expat eBook

Glen Lee Roberts

The Ultimate Guide to Living in Uruguay: Are you looking for information on Uruguay? Are you considering a move or retiring in Uruguay? Have you been tirelessly scouring the internet? We're here to help. Here at Total Uruguay we have begun developing this helpful Expat Guide To Uruguay to assist you in answering all those burning questions.Our guide is written by expats, for expats, and aims to provide honest, helpful, practical information that will help you in your relocation process. Find out all about residency requirements and legalizing your documents, read up on how to rent and buy property in Uruguay, check out what types of health care are available and much more.Most of it is written with a mix of personal experiences and raw how to information. We really hope that our guide will help make your move to South America a pleasant one, and when you arrive in Uruguay make sure to come and take part in our weekly expat lunch in Montevideo (Pocitos). We've been meeting every Sunday since November of 2005 and new faces are always welcome!As the ultimate expat Glen L. Roberts renounced his U.S. Citizenship and became Stateless in June, 2013.

Exercise normal security precautions

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Crime

Street crimes such as pickpocketing, armed robbery and muggings occur with some frequency in Montevideo, particularly in Plaza Independencia, the port area, La Ciudad Vieja (the Old City) and Avenida 18 de Julio. Avoid the "Cerro" neighbourhood and be cautious when walking downtown, including in well-travelled areas.

During the summer (Canadian winter), tourist police patrol the following Montevideo neighbourhoods, where most hotels are located: Pocitos, Punta Carretas, El Centro, La Ciudad Vieja, El Cordón and El Parque Rodo. Uruguayan law enforcement authorities have increased the number of uniformed police officers on foot in areas where criminal activity is concentrated, as well as the number of patrol cars in residential areas. The clearly marked patrol cars are equipped with cellular phones, and the phone numbers are painted on the vehicles.

Petty crime also occurs in towns bordering Brazil. Do not display large amounts of money in public. Ensure that your personal belongings and travel documents are secure at all times.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations occur regularly in Montevideo. Avoid all demonstrations and public gatherings and do not attempt to cross roadblocks, even if these appear unattended. You should also refrain from approaching any demonstrations with cameras and communications devices.

Before travelling by road from Uruguay to Argentina, monitor local news reports to confirm that there are no scheduled blockades or demonstrations on the bridges connecting the two countries. Local transportation services are occasionally disrupted.

Road travel

Exercise caution and common sense when travelling by motor vehicle. The accident rate is high. Roads are often winding, the terrain is hilly, and most intersections do not have stop signs or traffic lights. Many cars are poorly maintained, and traffic regulations are routinely ignored. It is advisable to buy gas near urban centres because the next station may be a long distance away. The main toll road to Punta del Este is good and well marked. The use of cellular phones while driving is prohibited.

You should exercise caution when choosing taxis in Montevideo. When possible, select one with three-point seat belts in the back seats or insist on sitting in front along with the driver. Taxis are equipped with a thick glass partition installed to protect drivers against crime. About three injuries a day are reported as people are thrown against the partition when the driver brakes suddenly or is involved in an accident. Injuries can be severe even in minor collisions.

Air travel

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Emergency services

The emergency number in Montevideo for police, fire and medical assistance is 911. In the rest of the country, dial 02-911 to connect with the Montevideo central emergency authority, which will then contact the local emergency service.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in South America, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South America. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in South America, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness)West Nile virus and yellow fever.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.


Malaria

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in South America, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Laws

Customs authorities may strictly enforce regulations concerning the import or export of items such as precious jewels, gold, firearms, antiquities, medications and business equipment.

An International Driving Permit is recommended.

Money

The currency is the Uruguayan peso (UYU). U.S. dollars can be converted. Major hotels and restaurants accept credit cards.

Climate

Droughts and floods occur. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.