The Comfort Pursuit

Uruguay, or the ‘Switzerland of South America’

On our way to the south of Brazil last November, we flew from Australia to Chile and then to Montevideo in Uruguay. When friends in this part of the world ask me what is the best place in South America I always say the same: Uruguay is its best kept secret. Yes, Buenos Aires is bigger, there is more to see and do and it is a city with an European feel by the River Plate. But while Buenos Aires has all the same problems big cities around the world face, Montevideo – which also has its European baggage – is a hidden quiet gem, and better, by the sea.

Uruguay has been considered the Switzerland of South America in the 70’s. Nowadays it carries the heritage of that time, and has a bucolic feel in its streets full of (not so well kept) heritage. With a very educated people, you can talk to seemingly every Uruguayan, no matter social class, about their country’s history. Uruguay (or Uruguas as we call it in the south of Brazil) is also the country with the lowest violence rate and the highest education standards in South America. Pelotas, my home town in Brazil is located around 140km from the border with Uruguay, and 570km away from Montevideo. I have been lucky enough to enjoy frequent visits to this country and city.

This small country, with a population of lesst than 3,5 million people and land area smaller than New Zealand, is the homeland of Jorge Drexler, one of my favourite artists, who became world famous with the song Al Otro lado del Río, which was the main soundtrack of the movie Motorcycle Diaries. But the song that really makes me think of Uruguas – and somehow makes me go back even though I am physically distant – is Drexler’s song Un País con el Nombre de un Río. Below is an unofficial youtube video. The translation of the lyrics to English is below the video.

You can also see more photos of our trip here.

 

A country named after a river
Jorge Drexler

I’m from an empty meadow
a country named after a river
a forgotten paradise
a field alongside the sea

Not a lot of open roads
all eyes on the airport
golden years,
a country used to long for something

It’s hard for me to love you
it’s hard to lose you
it’s hard to forget
the smell of the wet earth
the sea breeze,
sea breeze,
take me home, sea breeze,
where is home? sea breeze
take me home, sea breeze

A dream and a passport
like the birds, we go north
when winter approaches and the cold starts to get worse

and this is a long winter
there’s been various five-year periods of bitter times
and we got older waiting for flowers from
Jacarandá.

It’s hard to leave
it’s hard to stay
it’s hard to forget
the smell of the wet earth,
the sea breeze
sea breeze,
take me home, sea breeze,
where is home? sea breeze
take me home, sea breeze

I’m from an empty meadow
a country named after a river
I’m from an empty meadow
a country named after a river, named after a river

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