Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Montevidean markets and mate

We like visiting markets in the places that we visit.  Whether the market is focused on food, crafts or just general goods, it is an excellent place to see the locals.  The things being sold, and the people visiting, give you a glimpse of who they are and how they live. While here we visited two main markets.

The first was the Mercado del Puerto, down by the docks.  It is a beautiful old wrought iron building, that is now full of parillas.

The Montevideanos gather here, especially on a Saturday, to look at the craft stalls outside and, more fundamentally, to eat steak.   You get hungry just being here and smelling the meats cooking.  Needless to say we found a table and joined in the eating. We also tried out the local tipple; medio y medio, or half and half, is a mix of white wine and sparkling wine that is very popular here. It wasn't bad.

Nearby, we sat in a park for a while and watched while some green parrot like birds vandalised the trees. There were some trees with lovely pink flowers on and these birds kept picking the flowers off and dropping them to the ground.  As far as we could see they weren't eating anthing from them, but I guess they had their reasons.

Our other market was the general street market on the Sunday.  This is apparently one of the largest street markets in South America, and it was certainly big.  You seem to be able to buy most things here, from everything connected with mate, through clothes and bric a brac, to pets and poultry.  It is said that if your house is robbed in Montevideo, then the chances are you can come here and buy your stuff back.

We also noticed that the passion for Mate appears to be stronger here than anywhere else. You constantly spot people from all walks of life going around with their mate cup in hand and their flask under their arm. If you don't know about mate, the flask contains the hot water to top up the mate cup over the Yerba.

After wandering around the stalls for a while, we stopped for a late lunch in one of the little cafes. It was a busy place with tables close together.  As we played cards waiting to be served a woman came in with her little boy.  We bought our cards in the Falkland Islands and they have gentoo penguins on them, so when he spotted them he was immediately interested in them and us.  He started asking us lots of questions, but he spoke very quickly and we found it hard to catch some of what he was saying.  His mum didnt speak any English but she helped out by repeating what he said or finding another way to say it if we didn't hadn't understood.

The little boy was both fascinated with the fact that we were from such a long way away, and completely unable to comprehend that we didn't speak Spanish properly. And when he asked my name and I told him what it was, the look of confusion on his face was absolute.  He actually tapped his head as if trying to make it compute such a strange and unusual name.  Mum was pretty surprised too, but she absorbed it more readily and in fact made a very passable attempt at pronouncing it properly, which is quite unusual.
Now those of you who know me will be aware that children are not my strong point, and it is especially hard going when you add a language barrier, but we managed to get by.  Amongst other thing, we discussed that he loved penguins, that we had been to Antarctica and seen lots of penguins - and yes it was very cold there - , and that Nic supports Liverpool and they have Suarez from Uruguay on their team. When the time came for them to go, I got the traditional goodbye kiss from both.  Nic also got a kiss from mum, and a rather solemn handshake, albeit with the wrong hand, from the boy.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We like to hear from you too, so please leave us a message here. We are also happy to answer any questions if we can help. Comments are moderated so will not appear straight away and there could be some delay in replying if we are travelling.