We started and ended our visit in the city of Montevideo, Capital of Uruguay, that is a vibrant modern city of 1.5 million inhabitants. The city has many plazas, and handsome surviving architecture of bygone eras.
The homes of some of our relatives are located in a residential area of Montevideo called Carrasco. Carrasco is an engaging neighborhood of tree-lined streets with a beach close by. Some homes are newer modern
houses. In general, houses range from midsize to mansions.
Among the largest industries of Uruguay are sheep and cattle husbandry, and associated industries in the the production of leather and wool. The grassy rolling land is well suited for raising cattle and sheep. Ranch hands that herd cattle and sheep were known as gauchos in years past, and are often still called gauchos.
Fences in the rural areas of Uruguay are made of seven strands of wire threaded through holes in the wooden posts. The wire is not barbed wire even though cattle and sheep are contained behind these fences . Approximately every eighth post is a large post, sometimes made of concrete, and is the only post buried in the ground. At times, an electric cattle fence can be seen inside the usual fence.
Even though palm, eucalyptus, cedar, and pine trees are abundant in Uruguay, the omb˙ tree, sometimes thought of as a bush, caught our attention as special to Uruguay. There is a grove of omb˙es called, Monte de Omb˙es, in the interior of Uruguay that is the largest of its kind in the world. The omb˙ trunk is thick and short. The wood has the consistency of paper when dead and dry. It is interesting how eucalyptus trees are planted in groves so as to grow tall and slender. We assume such planting allows the trees to be more productively used for lumber.
An unusual bird's nest in Uruguay is made by the hornero bird, and is seen on the top of fence posts or in trees, but more often is on top of a telephone pole. The nest is made of mud and straw, and hardens in the sun to a clay-like substance. It provides an enclosed area sheltered from rain and wind. As we traveled the roads in the interior of Uruguay, it seemed that every tenth telephone pole along the road had a nest.
The production of food crops has escalated. We saw large fields of sunflower, sorghum, corn, and other various crops. Fruits such as apples, pears, oranges, lemons, etc. grow in abundance. Excellent wines are produced from Uruguayan grapes.
One food product that is still a staple of the Uruguayan home is dulce de leche, a smooth-spredding sweet brown substance made from the cooking of milk. Dulce de leche translated literally means milk jam. We also ate an unusual food, bu˝uelos de algas. They are a mixture of dough and seaweed deep fried into small round balls, a type of fritter.
A popular beverage in Uruguay is Mate that is a tealike beverage made from the leaves of an evergreen tree, Ilex paraguariensis. After the dried leaves are placed in a small gourd or other type of small hand held container, hot water is poured over the leaves. The Mate is then sipped from the container using a metal tube with a strainer on the end as shown in the picture taken on one of the beachs at Cuchilla Alta. This particular beach at Cuchilla Alta, where we stayed for two weeks had a type of flora that was prevalent up and down the coast of Uruguay. Cell phones in use throughout Uruguay were also in use at beaches. Bikinis were abundant on the youthful crowd, and more reserved bathing suits in use by the mature crowd.
Uruguay has at least three main hot springs resorts. We visited two of the hot spring resorts, but stayed overnight at the Termas de Arapey that has five large pools. The water in all pools is 38 degrees centigrade, (100.4 F) and is OK for relaxing, not swimming. We tried to swim laps of sixty feet or so, but found the water too warm. The resort maintains aquatic gardens with flowers in and out of the water.
On our way to Colonia, Uruguay, we stopped in a small town, Rosario, and saw street wall paintings. After arriving in Colonia, we went directly to the historic part of Colonia settled in 1680, named Colonia del Sacramento. There are museums, old streets and buildings, etc.. One of the oldest streets is La Calle de los Suspiros. The lighthouse is particularly striking. Two of the houses were newly reconstructed houses, 1) a house with a Santa Rita tree in front, and 2) a hostel.
There are fine restaurants throughout Uruguay. Fortin Santa Rosa Inn, up the coast from Montevideo, had a restaurant with excellent food and quaint ambiance. Even a restaurant that served as a rest stop on a highway had superior food, and clean attractive interior. While staying in Carrasco (section of Montevideo), we would often walk to the Carrasco Beach. A block from the beach was a glassed-in restaurant where one could sit and watch the world go by while sipping coffee or eating lunch.
Monuments, statues, cemeteries, and plazas are a common feature of the cities of Uruguay. The town of San Jose has the original and the famous statue of Artigas, Artigas being the patriot-hero of Uruguayan independence. However, many of the small towns in Uruguay have duplicates of the same statue of Artigas. A duplicate of the statue also stands in Washington, D.C.