Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Wild West Should Meet the Original Gaucho

On Sunday, we got opportunity to go to a Uruguayan rodeo and fair. Holy Week, the week before Easter, has been renamed Tourism Week as part of a separation of Church and state process that began the 19th century and as part of last week they put on a week of festivities here in Montevideo. They call it Semana Criolla, roughly translated at Heritage Week. Gaucho (the cowboy of the Southern Cone) culture is a huge part of the Uruguayan tradition and much of it was being celebrated while in different presentations we were able to attend while we were there. First, Ximena (one of our Spanish lab instructors and good friends) took us to see the end of the rodeo part. The riders, dressed in Gaucho wear, would mount a horse tied to a post and ride the bucking bronc swinging their whips above their heads. It probably wouldn’t have been the favorite place of a PETA member, let’s just throw that in there. Then, we walked through an artisan market while looking for some other form of entertainment. We found a magic show/circus in progress and I at least had a very good time watching the proceedings and trying to understand what they were saying. Man it’s hard to come back to Montevideo and hear Spanish after listening to the clear speaking of Peruvians! Then we went to see a song and dance show presenting folk dances and music of the past. It was very fun. Mom, you would have loved it. Other than that, we were able to talk with Ximena about different aspects of Uruguayan culture and share with her some of the funny things that we do in the States that is different than here.

I tried to take notice of the similarities and differences between a fair/rodeo here and back home. Honestly they were very similar. We saw a lot of families spending time together and the smell of hotdog and hamburger stands filled the air. The biggest difference was the lack of games or rides that you would normally find at a fair in the states. It was a relief not to be accosted by carneys every step you took.

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