Top 5 Things I've grown to love during my year abroad in Montevideo, Uruguay
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I can’t believe I’m saying this but: I’ve now been living in Uruguay for over two months! It’s such a strange feeling because although the time has flown by really fast, it also feels like I’ve been here forever. By spending this time here, I’ve realised that I’m growing quite a fondness for some things that I never used to like or pay attention to before. Here are the top five things it seems I have grown to love during my time so far in Uruguay…
1. MateYes, I finally tried this mysterious green beverage that everybody in Uruguay is so obsessed with! At first I wasn’t sure what the fuss was about; it kind of tastes like green tea but a little more bitter. Yet when I was offered it again, I found myself accepting more and more enthusiastically each time; it was a cold and windy day and there was something oddly comforting about holding the mate gourd in both hands and sipping such a hot drink through the special metal straw (bombilla), I suppose just as us Brits would find comfort in a good cuppa. Also, I never realised this before, but yerba mate is crazily caffeinated - it contains as much caffeine as coffee! Now it’s definitely easier to understand why people are so addicted to it.
2. SweetnessOf course like any child I used to enjoy the odd pick’n’mix, butI’ve never really had a ‘sweet tooth.’ In fact I was so terrible at eating sweet things, anything with too much sugar or chocolate would get too sickly for me to eat after even a few bites, and I’d always choose a savoury snack like crisps over a sweet one like cake or biscuits. However, just as they did with my quick transition from good vegetarian to ravenous Uruguayan carnivore, things have changed completely… I now have grown to rather like to Toddy biscuits, which are Uruguay’s answer to Chips Ahoy! chocolate chip cookies. And when I say “I’ve grown to rather like,” what I’m really saying is “I’ve developed a completely unhealthy addiction to.” Honestly, you wouldn’t believe the rate at which I could devour a packet, and it doesn’t help that the shop downstairs sells them, so I can pop down even in my pyjamas and get a packet charged to my room whenever I like! (Help me!) I’m even coming round to enjoying dulce de leche, a substance so sickly sweet that I at first found it repulsive. But everyone eats it here, and, little by little, I find myself liking it; I wouldn’t be surprised if come this time next month I’m writing about how I’ve got myself addicted to that too!
3. Shopping at the MarketNow I promise, not all of the things I’ve grown to love about Uruguay are super unhealthy! I’ve also developed a rather healthy habit of buying my weekly groceries at the Sunday street market in Montevideo; which means lots and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. So I don’t feel too guilty about my addiction to biscuits when the majority of the time the rest of my diet consists of fresh blueberries, apples, bananas, avocados, sweet potatoes, etc. Not only is the market a great place to buy cheap and delicious food, I also love it because it feels so special. Shopping at the supermarket feels like a chore, whereas waiting to go to the street market every Sunday is more like a fun morning out, and it’s definitely worth the pain of heaving a heavy bag home afterwards. Going there is a real chance to feel immersed in the Uruguayan culture; it’s bustling with people buying, selling, (and yelling!) and there is often a band playing there too. The street is so huge that you can spend all morning exploring, and it doesn’t just sell fruit and vegetables, you can find anything and everything there… you can buy clothes, souvenirs, plants, and mate cups, there are stalls that sell pets (including the cutest little kittens and bunny rabbits I have ever seen) and stalls that sell hundreds of books.
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