Monthly Archives: April 2007

Semana Criolla; Gauchos.

This is Semana Santa, officially dubbed Semana de Turismo by the government and also, Semana Criolla.

Semana Criolla is (among other things I suppose) where people from the Interior (everywhere outside Montevideo) come in to show their lifestyle to the city folk, sell their wares, cook meat and rodeo. It’s a great event.

Gauchos are Uruguay’s cowboys and are, in my opinion, Real Men. An elaboration:

  1. They wear cool wide belts apparently for the sole purpose of toting useful tools.
  2. Said belts are adorned by large and elaborate buckles that I find more impressive than any other style of buckle that I have heretofore seen.
  3. Said belts also serve the primary purpose of being a place in whence to store a large, ornate knife used for all manner of cutting.
  4. They wear sweet leather boots. With pants tucked in so everyone knows they are wearing sweet boots.
  5. Their hats have ornate metal straps.
  6. Gauchos can make even berets look tough.

Note, so far we have only dealt with their clothing. There is more.

  1. They ride horses. Well.
  2. They raise delicious beef, and not in CAFO‘s.
  3. They live in the real country.
  4. They drink large quantities of mate.
  5. Did I mention that they carry large ornate knives everywhere they go?

I could go on, but suffice it to say that being around gauchos makes me want to swear off computers, move to the country and become a Real Man.

Photos to elucidate (click to enlarge):
spur

men

hands

carry

horse

Finally, a video to further illustrate:

And, if you’re still reading, you might be interested in “Nay, a tumblelog” where occasionally I tumble Uruguay related bits.

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Phone Etiquette in Uruguay

phone - by jenny
Answering the phone here is simple:

Hola.

Putting someone hold is a little different, but simple:

┬┐Me esperas un momento? No me cortes por favor. (Will you wait a moment, don’t hang up please!)

It’s at the time to say goodbye when things get interesting. Rather than the typical “bye bye” (adios) you try to sneak in a few of the following at the moment of hanging up:

  • chau – ciao.
  • chau chau – because two ciaos are better than one
  • dale – roughly “alrighty”
  • dale bueno – “alrighty, good”
  • nos vemos – see you later
  • hasta luego – a more formal see you later
  • adios – bye
  • besos – kisses (commonly used among anyone, including men and married women, men among themselves, children etc.)
  • abrazos – hugs (also used among any two people)
  • saludos a la familia – greetings to your family
  • me saludas la familia – give your family my greetings
  • que la pases bien – have a good evening/morning etc.
  • buenas noches / buen dia / buenos dias etc. – good night, good day, good morning etc.
  • igualmente (you too–said in response to the greetings of your caller)

The more you string together in succession and the faster, the better! I have a sneaky suspicion that there is a secret competition that goes on each time you hang up in which both parties try to best the other by inserting more and better greetings before the phones click.

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Carnaval is great, especially the Murgas

Carnaval in Uruguay is long. I’m not sure how long but more than a month. Basically it consists of groups of (mostly men) performing short (aprox 45 minutes) plays on stages in neighborhoods throughout the city and ending in a final competition in the main theater – Teatro de Verano.

The plays fall into 3 categories–Comedy, Parody and Murga. Murgas are the most traditional and seem to be the most popular. They’ve been doing them since the early 20th century. Mostly they are politically themed and consist of three parts – the greeting, the… middle… and the ending or ‘despedida.’ The beginning and end are the most important parts, the middle seems to often be a mixture of spoken word and singing.

Murga groups are about 15 men. They sing loudly and vary their voices in a sort of falsetto harmony. Hearing it live is impressive. It’s the kind of thing that gives you goosebumps. Costumes are elaborate. Extremely elaborate. Competition is stiff.

I went to the last night of Carnaval and though I didn’t understand a lot of what they were singing about I really enjoyed it.

Ok, this is turning into a Wikipedia entry. Let me stop by linking there and putting in a video of a Murga so you can get the feel for it and… there you go. Don’t miss Carnaval. I’ve never seen anything like it.

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Filed under montevideo, uruguay