Author: Dominic DeGrazier

Hostel Finds

Hostels are a beautiful way to get to know a new place.  Most times the owners/workers enjoy sharing views on their respective cities or towns (unlike some of the hotels I have occasionally stayed at).  And they do so without expecting tips as well. But one of the best feelings while traveling happens when I find a fantastic hostel.  This doesn’t mean it has all the trendiest amenities or styles.  It is due to the people staying in the place, and the general feel of the environment. Well, after staying in a rented apartment for a few months, then bouncing around to a few friends’ places, I have found a gem of a hostel.  It is in “the more dangerous” part of Montevideo (Ciudad Vieja), but it really isn’t dangerous if you don’t call attention to yourself.  It’s awesomely mellow, feels like a second home, and isn’t too costly either.  If you are ever in town here, and are not looking to bring the party back to your “home”, check out Posada al Sur. For more information and pictures on daily life in Uruguay and Montevideo, go to Dominic’s blog at...

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Murgas, Humoristas, Parodistas, and More of Carnival

There is more than one style of Carnival performers competing for the best group title here in Montevideo, Uruguay.  We have the murga groups who sing and dance (a little, and a little strangely) about current issues…many times focused on political themes.  The humoristas who are the funny guys (and occassional girls) not as focused on singing. Then we have the Parodistas.  Yes, there are a few other styles of Carnival performers, but for now let’s stick with the Parodistas.  Last night I went to a show with two murga groups performing, followed by a humorista group, and then ending with a parodista act.  My immediate and elongated reaction to the whole show was along the lines of, “Wow, I thought I knew Spanish better than this.”  But that is not the point right now. Parodistas are undeniably and unabashedly Uruguay’s version of the 21st century Backstreet Boys.  It was troubling, interesting, painful, intriguing, humorous, impressive and more all rolled into one. For more information on Dominic’s times in Montevideo and the surroundings, go to:...

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Here Comes Carnival…In Montevideo

The festivities where scheduled to begin last night for one of (if not the) longest Carnival celebrations in the world.  But something(one) upstairs was not ready to start; hence the strongest downpour of rain that I have seen here in the past 3 months arrived…along with the strongest wind. But don’t fret, these Montevideans are not giving up and have scheduled to start the parade on Sunday – when the forecast says the first clear day will arrive.  They don’t mess around with their Carnival times here. On a sidenote, I am hoping that they can somehow figure out how to put Queen or Duran Duran tunes in with the Carnival season festivities.  I have been shocked before with their love of the 80s music, and I would be happily shocked again… For more information on Dominic’s times in Montevideo and its surroundings, go to:...

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80s Tunes in Uruguay

I’m sitting in a small restaurant in an even smaller beach village on the east coast of Uruguay.  I’m completely unconnected to the outside world (i.e. I had no internet connection and the mobile phone service was not too strong) and loving it. Then the music starts up.  It isn’t an Uruguayan or Argentine band. It’s the Stone Temple Pilots. Then follows a string of about ten 80s songs, including Queen, among others. And my Uruguayan friend is singing along to these songs without skipping a beat. Uruguayans are infatuated with the 80s music. In fact, they even have a night (August 24th) that is set up for the blatant celebration of 80s music. I love it.  I am intrigued. I am listening to the most 80s music that I have heard since living in the 80s. Dominic is an incurable world roamer. He has traveled and at times lived in various parts of Europe, Australia, Asia, and South America after graduating university. He is a published writer and photographer looking to explore more of the world — whether in his own backyard or outside of the US border. More of his writing can be found at...

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The Samba of Rio de Janeiro

I never became an extraordinary samba dancer in my week’s trip to the city.  I tried three times, moved the feet, and acted like I knew what I was doing – but I didn’t.  I still don’t understand the steps of the quick samba. But I do understand the vibe and rhythm of the music’s energy.  The samba scene is full of smiles, carefreeness, and unity.  Look around a samba bar and you are likely to find a healthy mix of white, black, old, and young among other people. Actually much like the capoeira dance circles.  Along the strip of Ipanema Beach, I stood mesmerized for 20 minutes watching a group of dancers from ages 8 to 50 (approximately) face off against one another.  No importance given to the age.  No importance placed on the skin color.  No importance the level of dancer/fighter.  All were there to simply enjoy the late afternoon’s weather and the sounds of the music. The culture of Rio, with its transparent and fluid mix, was a complete pleasure to...

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January´s River, Brazil

There is no river here from what I can find, but still Rio de Janeiro goes by the name.  It´s a huge bay with a lot of action coming in and out of its ports.  But clearly that is not why I came here for a week (from Montevideo, Uruguay) – to get a glimpse of the culture was the goal.  And in this goal, dance always has to be experienced…for me at least. Enter last night in the center of town.  Walking into the spacious building with ceilings of at least 35 feet in height, I knew the night was going to be a good one.  The live band set themselves up, and the samba-ing began. Is that samba?  What are they doing with their feet?  There is no order to that right?  Well, long story short, I made a sincere effort to be a samba-er but I think I was simply seen as that lone foreign dude who was trying to make a simple salsa step look more complicated. Onto the next...

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Punta del Este, Uruguay

I have been hearing about this beach town since I arrived here in Montevideo.  From everything I heard, it sounded like a Miami in Uruguay.  I had to go, clearly. 2 hours outside of Montevideo rests the town of Punta del Este.  During the months of January and February the place is packed with people – a lot of Brazilians and Argentines.  People here have some money – some dock their mansion-boats, others drive around in luxury cars. Then there is Bikini Beach – a must spot to go to in order to see the daytime festivities.  At night the clubs aren’t worth going to until 2 a.m., and stay open all night into the daytime.  If you are looking for a party on the beach while getting your fill of people-watching, Punta del Este is your...

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Mercado del Puerto and Feliz Año

A lot of my friends headed for the beaches of Punta del Este or Rocha for Uruguay’s New Year times.  But I had heard of the spectacle here in town.  From everything I heard, on the day of the 31st the Mercado del Puerto sounded like a soggy version of Marti Gras in New Orleans. I say soggy because the whole day involved people pouring, throwing, or spraying each other with a 4% alcohol apple cider drink.  It was nothing short of amazing.  The crowd showed up at 1pm in the market area.  Plastic bottles of the apple cider started to be hurled around the area at about 1:30pm.  A mime was chanted into kissing a girl in the crowd (which the group reveled in afterward as a mosh-type scene erupted). Bottomline: if you are in Montevideo around New Years and would like to see a crowd of wet drunks, go to this party.  But make sure to leave no later than 4pm as the ambience and environment starts to get...

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I am Devin Galaudet the Editor in Chief of ITKT. I am asked all the time how I did it? Was it worth? Changing my life around to make travel a priority. The short answer is yes. It was really a lifestyle choice. It hasn’t always been easy but I have never regretted it. If you are like me, you might want to explore what I did to get started.

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