I’ve been in Montevideo, Uruguay for a week now.  This is a smaller South American capital – some 1.7 million people.   I am here to live for awhile, to figure out the people, and most importantly to decide if I like what the city has to offer.   

A few years ago, for three months, I traveled around Argentina and felt as though I somewhat understood their way of life (from a Gringo mentality at least…which probably doesn’t say too much?).  I expected the Montevideo culture to be very similar.  And it has been.  People here look the same as Argentines (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish roots mainly), speak the same Spanish (although most all Uruguayans will disagree with this saying that Buenos Aires, and even more so people from Cordoba sing rather than speak), and they drink mate.  Trust me, this says a mouth full.

Mate is a tea-like drinking tradition that involves a cup, a metal straw, and yerba leaves – mainly drank in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and southern Brazil.  But here in Montevideo, if not the whole country, this tradition is taken to a whole new level.  Sure, in Argentina people drank mate…very frequently throughout the day actually.  But not until I continued to see people walking the streets with their mate cup and thermus with hot water, did I understand the Uruguayan commitment and possibly get closer to understanding their culture.  Only time will tell…