Football fans from India will recognize Uruguay because of their success in the last World Cup and their soccer stars Luis Suarez (at Liverpool) and Diego Forlan (Inter). For those who don't know where Uruguay is, its located on the Eastern coast of South America, just south of Brazil and east of Argentina.
Very few Indians probably make the trip to this country as its too far away and probably not a major tourist attraction. Most Indians who prefer the more popular destinations like the US, Europe, Australia and the Far East. Fortunately for me, the company I work for has an office in Montevideo, the capital and I get to visit this less visited country. Over the next few days, I will share my experiences of life in Montevideo from the eyes of someone from India. Let me see what things Desi I can find here. If you would like to take this journey, follow me on Twitter.
I will begin with Day 0, getting to Montevideo. I took a flight from the US and in most cases, the best way to get directly into Montevideo was from Miami via American Airlines. The flights to Montevideo are usually red-eye flights and the travel time is about 9-10 hours. Getting to the gate, I realized that Uruguayans, like Indians, like to shop a lot abroad because the cost of luxury goods is almost twice the price in their home country. There were lots of duty-free shopping bags waiting to be handed to the passengers as they boarded their flights.
Once you get into the plane, you realize that most of the US airlines reserve their older aircrafts to fly to these countries. Much like how flights to India are, where the European legs have newer planes but the leg to India is nothing more than a flying bus. They probably played a movie and turned off the entertainment for the rest of the flight. Fortunately the plane was quite empty and being tired and and sleepy, was able to stretch my feet and get a good nap.
After about a 10 hour flight, we arrived at the Carrasco International airport. I had imagined a much bigger airport like the size of Bangalore or Hyderabad perhaps but it was really small and has only 4 gates. The airport is really modern and highly rated. It was very clean, with clearly marked signs etc. I made it through immigration smoothly. With only 4 gates, not too many flights can arrive at the same time. My suitcase was really light because I just had my clothes, but the locals all had a couple of really heavy bags. I found out on my flight that many Latin Americans find it cheaper to fly to Miami and shop for goods there and many make a trip there just for the purpose of shopping. Kind of like Dubai and Singapore for many Indians.
I came outside to find my cab driver waiting for me. In speaking with him, I realized that I am in for some fun not knowing any Spanish except Uno, Dos, Tres (which may be from a Ricky Martin song?) and No Habla Espanol (I dont know Spanish). The driver knew no English but of course he knew where to go so I made it safely to the hotel. My team speaks excellent English but its seems like the locals do not know the language at all. Guess, my hands will have to do the talking.
The ride to the hotel was quite short so I got to the see just the outskirts of the city. My first impressions of this part of the city was Mumbai meets Bangalore (but from 25 years ago). Being on the coast, the weather is really humid and you can feel it everywhere. This, along with the sea-breeze reminded me of Mumbai. The bungalows and greenery reminded me of Bangalore.
Feeling a bit tired, I decided to take a short nap before venturing out for lunch and other adventures. More to follow tomorrow, stay tuned. So far, no sign of anything Indian here but I will be looking.
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