Arriving in Uruguay
So I arrived in Montevideo on the 20th of November. After three of the best hitchhikes so far. One brought me from Quebrada de los Cuervos to Treinta y Tres, saving me the 25 km hike back to the main road. There, after a good coffee, I was picked up by a guy who wanted to pay for my bus ride between Minas and Montevideo because it was getting dark (hitchhiking in the dark is sort of a no go, mainly because often it does not work). There was no bus but he gave me 500 pesos anyway (17 euro) after which a guy managing 10.000 cows brought me into Montevideo, showing me the city by night because he had to drop off a lamb and piglet as presents to his (wealthy) friends. He then took me out for a good Uruguayan steak and so I was droped at my hostel with a full stomach and money for two nights to stay. Welcome Chiel in Montevideo!
This all happened after a time of struggle and what could be called my worst hitchhike ever. As I wrote under this picture above: ‘This guy took me on a ride with his local wine… Honestly, I had a severe blackout and just some memories :-s Woke up in a hotel where some other people apparently dropped me off. With my stuff, just my sunglasses, a roll of cookies and my (empty) small day-backpack missing. My first worrying experience hitchhiking; do not drink local wine from people you don’t know… Even if they are friendly and weird.’
The time of struggle ended in Quebrada de los Cuervos (see pictures above) where I had this very strong inner call in the morning during my hike around the park. At the riverside I thought and said to myself: ‘I’m going home, I’m going to Montevideo. Today.’ Thereby skipping the coastal area of Uruguay. I felt strong and indeed, I made it into Montevideo that day.
The short tale of Punta del Este
Now I’m in Uruguay for about 8 weeks, one of which spend in Punta del Este. Yes, that would be the city where I was going to earn some money to get me going in this country. But a lot of my plans have changed since I’m here, not all is or worked out as I thought it would. No surprise but surprising it is 😉
Punta del Este is just vacation apartments, bars and beaches. A one-track-mind Concrete Jungle for the wealthy. Add to that that I do not particularly like beaches (except when approached from a sailboat or during rough weather for long walks) and you can imagine what I felt like the first day. During my short stay I found out that most of the money here is old money. Rich people with hostels and bars that never really seem to have worked themselves and don’t feel like sharing their wealth with the people working for them. I would make like 300 dollars in a month (and simple food and shelter) for working 6 days a week. That is in one of the richest places of south america! I thought to myself, why am I doing this? I’m 29 and did my part of shitty jobs. I do not feel like spoiling rich (and it must be said, with few exceptions, often obnoxious) people for 3 months for no money. In comparison, on St. Martin I earned about 3000 dollar a month (with one good and one exceptionally good job that is). So I returned to the quiet, warm and welcome Montevideo.
I met great people here. In the hostel I encountered She, a young Chinese women from New York who was helping out in a gallery here. I went to the opening and hung out with her a good time around the city. Looking for art but ending up in antique stores. The next day she was doing an art performance with the material she gathered interviewing Chinese immigrants here. She had an idea but not about what she was actually going to do. So I ended up helping here designing, preparing and coaching the piece. An experience that would later lead to the insight that I did enough shitty jobs and that I want to work with my talents and with nice people.
That evening I fell in a warm bath of intelligent, divers and nice people at the gallery Casa Mario. University teachers, writers, artists, architects, psychologists, researchers, and poor neighbors CasaMario is an initiated gentrification project. A gallery paid for by investors to make the neighborhood a more interesting place. No so much by art alone, more also by interaction. So I try to help out a bit and it is here I met Niklaus in who’s house I stay now.
New year, new plans
Meanwhile in the hostel I just missed out on a job as receptionist in the night (while I was in Punta del Este). But made friends with the super cool owners and they are almost eager to help me! By now I helped in their bar and hostel a few nights. No job jet but I got some pesos so the fridge of the house I have for two weeks is filled with that penny money (2.5 dollar per hour).
So I translated my resume and searched for jobs in the offshore industry (perfect combination of good money and several weeks of work including housing and food after which I would have several weeks off for traveling and doing nice projects around). Also I applied in close to all hostels for a night job (perfect quiet time to work on other enterprises and on my Spanish). And I looked into a broad range of other opportunities. To be fair, exchanging time for pesos here is not going to keep me traveling. I have to find something else. Just one ‘rule’, three jobs I won’t do (unless I go broke, really really broke), supermarkets, call-centers and banks. So it is time to get creative!
Having a house for these two weeks around Christmas and New Year is a blessing and a pleasure. To not be in a hostel and have my own space to go to the toilet with the for open, listen to my music loudly, do my yoga, invite friends and smoke some in the garden is such a wonderful rich feeling. I gave me the piece of mind to incubate some plans and finalise some growing feelings, also resulting in this blogpost. The creative energy is flowing towards the countryside. In search to combine mindfulness and friends, doing something meaningful and earning money, I’ll be spending this month at different places in Uruguay. To find the next move on my travels. And in the meantime I practise to feel ok not knowing what to do for a while. To be continued