Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Garra Charrua!

All The Year Is Carnival

If you're lucky enough to be enjoying the energy of a Uruguayan futbol match, you might hear "Garra Charrau" chanted from the stands. A rallying call to the players, it's also a tribute to the indigenous people of the area, the Charruas, who refused to convert to Catholicism and defeated the Spanish invaders. The chant calls upon one to "prevail in the face of certain death."

There is a spirit, an energy, a passion to enjoy life, as well as a fierce determination to be free and expressive not only in that futbol chant, but in the daily life of the Uruguayan people as well. As former President Jose Mujica, a man who took office in March 2010 but never moved into Uruguay's presidential palace and was once referred to as the poorest, most humble leader in the world, once said -- "Be yourself and don't try to impose your criteria on the rest. I don't expect others to live like me. I want to respect people's freedom, but I defend my freedom. And that comes with the courage to say what you think, even if sometimes others don't share those views." 

From the south where the extra-wide waters of the Rio de la Plata hide a bustling Buenos Aires lighting up the sky, to the northern border shared with a massive neighbor Brazil, Uruguay prides itself on its independence. It may be the second smallest country in South America but it's strong in so much nonetheless. A representative democratic republic, it's had an economic growth streak for the last 15 years. From 2003 to 2015, the middle class grew from 39% to 71%. Its per person income is now the highest in Latin America. It sells more beef than its larger neighbor Argentina. Without using government money, it converted to renewable electricity sources and now 95% of its energy comes from hydroelectric and wind parks. It was the first country to legalize the production, sale, and consumption of cannabis. Same-sex marriage and abortion are also legal. Long ago, a woman's right to divorce by simply appealing to do so at the courts was established. Church and state have been formally separated since 1916.   

Whether sipping mate from a traditional calabash gourd in a park in Montevideo, jogging along the seemingly endless Rambla, or enjoying the sun and surf at Punta del Este, it's likely a native is looking forward to the next carnival celebration. Life's always a heady mixture of work and play, love and basic joys from the surprises and mundane cares of everyday life. As the locals say, "Es lo que hay!"  While literally this translates as "it is what it is," this is more often said as a positive affirmation, to remember that nothing is better than what you already have. My days in country gave me so much more than what I had before I arrived, as the following photos demonstrate so well.



Old City Gate

Street Art


Old City

Old City

Uruguayan smoky-style beef

Old City Accommodations

Old City

Old City Park

Street Art

Old City Park

Independence Square


Street Art


Old City Pedestrian Walkway

Grocery Vendor

Tango Drawing

Old City near port

Old City

Old City


Carnival Art

Carnival Costumes

Carnival Museum

Carnival in 1935

Carnival Costume

Carnival Costumes


Old City Pedestrian Walkway

Old City Pedestrian Walkway

Street Art

Street Art

Old City cannon

Old City Waterfront


Recent Carnival Photo

Carnival costume design drawing

Carnival in 1936

Local wine served with beef

Sidewalk bills posted

Old City street

Street Art

Sidewalk sign outside restaurant

Accommodations in old city

Cat in patio

Barbie in cage

Flan

Old City restaurant


Wide-open countryside outside Montevideo



Overlooking Piriapolis

Tourist stop vendor

Tango art

Sofitel Montevideo Carrasco Hotel And Spa


waterfront view

waterfront park

coastline nearing Punta del Este


Carlos Páez Vilaró's Casapueblo's art


vinyards on way to Punta del Este

Punta del Este in distance

Carlos Páez Vilaró's Casapueblo's collage

Carlos Páez Vilaró's Casapueblo's home, hotel and museum


Carlos Páez Vilaró's Casapueblo's home, hotel and museum

Carlos Páez Vilaró's Casapueblo's home, hotel and museum

Carlos Páez Vilaró's Casapueblo's home, hotel and museum

Carlos Páez Vilaró's Casapueblo's home, hotel and museum

Carlos Páez Vilaró's Casapueblo's home, hotel and museum

Carlos Páez Vilaró's Casapueblo's home, hotel and museum

Punta del Este home

Punta del Este home

wavy bridge


Punta del Este

Punta del Este

Punta del Este

Punta del Este

Punta del Este

Punta del Este

nearing sunset on Rambla


Pasta business

Grocery store

La Rambla street view

Ghandi at beach

futbol field on Rambla

one section of Rambla

one section of Rambla


waterfront view

La Rambla

waterfront view

lighthouse

lighthouse

waterfront view


old city property

driving along Rambla

game in park

park

park

Old city property

Carnival sign

Dawn at airpot

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