Uruguay: A Traveler's Birthday Wish

Uruguay: A Traveler's Birthday Wish

I am obsessed with Uruguay.

I have been for a couple of years now. I saw the Uruguayan soccer team play in the World Cup on a TV back in 2010 and recalled “Uruguay, that’s a fun (country) name!” and since then, I’ve been obsessed. 

But why Uruguay?

  1. Uruguay, the second smallest country in South America, is about the size of Washington State and snuggles between Argentina and Brazil. Its name, which originates from the Guarani language, means “river of the painted birds.” Each of Uruguay’s 19 sections, called departments, embellish the coastline like charms on a bracelet, possessing a unique personality, but somehow fitting in with whole. Rolling plains and fertile farmlands merge seamlessly into white sandy beaches and coastal fishing towns, and large, vibrant cities have pathways to the tranquil river. Uruguay pleases the historian, the cultural aficionado, and the antique or craft and art collector. Foodies and gourmands take delight with Uruguay’s hormone-free farming practices, rich local wines and organic vegetables. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy surfing, fishing and para sailing. - BootsnAll
  2. The appeal of Montevideo lies not in novelty but in its timeless backdrop of fin-de-siècle architecture, shady plazas and riverside promenades bordered by sandy beaches—places where laid-back residents indulge in life’s simple pleasures. - New York Times Travel
  3. In other countries, men would weep, priests would renounce their gods, children run crying to their mothers, but in Uruguay it is beloved, revered. It is, in fact, the national dish… - Anthony Bourdain
  4. Uruguay has made some news lately — all of it indicative of a country that wants you to enjoy yourself. First, Uruguay beat out Argentina as the highest per capita consumer of beef, a real victory for the smaller country in this meat-loving part of the world. Last year, The Economist named Uruguay Country of the Year, partly for legalizing same-sex marriage and partly for becoming the first country to legalize the production and the sale of marijuana, saying that those actions have “increased the global sum of human happiness at no financial cost. - New York Times
  5. All these ridiculously beautiful South Americans, eating incredible yet simple food, mostly cooked over fire, drinking caipiroskas, with good music in the background, right on the beach. You just can’t help but fall in love with it all. - Fathom

Uruguay is a small country nestled between Argentina and Brazil. It’s South America’s version of New York’s Hamptons - beaches, wine, rich estates - but better. Uruguay has meat bars (no, really.). Uruguay has penguins (my favorite animal!). Uruguay has cowboys (called gauchos). Uruguay’s President is super chill. I’m sold.

No one talks about Uruguay. An email blast to some of my closest travel biz pals proves no one knows much about the country I haven’t shut up about. Some recall wonderful meals beachside, others can’t recall much other than taking a ferry from Buenos Aires. The closest connection I have to Uruguay aside from the stories I constantly share online are a distant friend who shares my passion for Uruguay who has not returned in years and a Uruguayan native now turned New York Times Travel writer who I sometimes follow online. I also scored a press pass to this year’s New York Times Travel Show just to meet the guy manning the Uruguay Tourism booth. He wasn’t excited to see me. Needless to say, planning my dream trip to Uruguay has not been easy. That won’t stop me.

I am going to Uruguay for my 29th birthday. 

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I plan on drinking a lot of wine, making friends with chefs who grill seafood beachside, venturing inland to hang with gauchos, pulling up a stool at a meat bar, and eat my weight in chivitos. I want to get back to my journalism roots, sharing stories in hopes to spotlight Uruguay the way it deserves to be.

But first maybe a stop over in Buenos Aires or Santiago for a Chilean hot dog…

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