Does Uruguay Suck?

Posted on 11. Aug, 2016 by in latin america

Wife and I are planning a second honeymoon.

Our daughter was born in January. We brought her to the States to introduce her to the gringo family in June. Before arriving in St. Louis, however, we were supposed to spend four days in San Jose, Costa Rica during a long layover. Relax, see a new country, etc.

Avianca would not let wife board the plane. She hadn’t had a yellow-fever shot and she didn’t have six months’ validity left on her passport, which expires in October.

Sidenote: Costa Rica’s requirement that Peruvians get yellow-fever shots is a little gringo-ish and superior. But tourism drives Costa Rica’s economy. So if there is a mosquito-borne illness outbreak, the economy could go into recession.

Another sidenote: Costa Rica is trying to join the Pacific Alliance, the political and economic bloc formed by Peru, Colombia, Chile and Mexico. The bloc aims for free trade and openness. But it goes further than the free movement of capital and goods by requiring the free movement of people. So if Costa Rica wants to join the cool kid’s club, they’ll have to dump this requirement.

We cancelled our flights and received a one-year credit to go to Costa Rica.

Two months later, I’m looking at good times to go for a vacation. Then wife says, “What about Zika?”

Oh yeah. Two months ago we didn’t know she was pregnant. Now we do know.

I find out Zika is everywhere in Costa Rica below an altitude of 6,500 feet, which is basically everywhere and all the tourist attractions. Then I think about that yellow-fever shot during pregnancy. I learn that it’s technically OK to get the vaccine while pregnant if completely unavoidable. Then I remember it’s rainy season in Costa Rica until November.

Costa Rica’s out. Anywhere with Zika is out. So let’s go somewhere cold.

Now I’m going to have to pay some money to change the destination, and if I’m going to do all that, I’m going to leave the children at home with my in-laws. That’s how this became a second honeymoon, or a vacation from the children if you will.

I get Avianca on the horn and ask about Buenos Aires or Santiago. How easy is it to change this flight, and what’s the least expensive way to do it?

The agent tells me that what everybody’s doing is flying into Montevideo, and then taking a ferry into Buenos Aires. He says flying into Buenos Aires is complicated right now.

I get a little excited about the idea. I’ve been to BA and I loved it, and it’ll be a great second honeymoon. But it’ll also be nice to see Montevideo and cross another country off the map.

But the ferry deal sounds strange. I email two expat friends in Buenos Aires, and I was surprised to see their answers.

Friend #1:

I think you got some bad gouge from the Avianca agent. BA is generally cheaper than MVD for flights from LIM – on account of much higher capacity in the market. The ferry between BA and MVD ain’t cheap either. Plan on $150 round trip for the slow ship which is two hours. Shuttle into downtown from EZE airport should be around $20 with Manuel Tienda Leon, which is what I use.

As far as Montevideo is concerned, I was pretty underwhelmed with the place. Rather dull city with nothing interesting going on. Food sucks too. Wine is good and cheap though. The beach is what Uruguay is all about. Punta del Este rocks from Christmas through February, with outrageous prices to match.

Friend #2:

Place is kinda boring. Good for relaxing or seeing something new. But not very exciting or remarkable.

One thing that sucks about Uruguay is the taxes. If I remember correctly, taxes are like 25% on most goods and services. So you get your bill for whatever good/service you ordered and you see this big charge for taxes. It adds considerably to the cost down there.

More taxes than a lame duck democrat.

For the most part, the people are ugly. There are a few hot Uruguayan girls. Not many though. Way hotter argentinas, brasileñas, peruanas, paraguayas, colombianas, venezolanas. Uruguayas aren’t the ugliest of South America, but they are close. Gay guys tell me the male population is ugly too, and they have no sense of fashion.

Otherwise, not much more to say.

I couldn’t believe it. I told the news to wife, and she said everybody says that. Not gringos, she says (obviously). All the Latinos who visit Uruguay say it’s boring too.

I had no idea. I knew the entire population was like 3.5 million, so more a city than a country, and I knew it’s one of Latin America’s wealthiest countries per capita. I knew they were good at soccer and that they legalized weed. And I read Open Veins.

But I didn’t think it would be so bad it’s not worth a visit. Of all the expats I’ve met, and all those in contact through this blog, I don’t think I’ve ever met an expat in Uruguay.

So what do you say folks? Does Uruguay suck?

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6 Responses to “Does Uruguay Suck?”

  1. Friend #1

    12. Aug, 2016

    I should say that while Montevideo has little going for it – just another shitty South American dumpster/city – Uruguay actually has a lot going for it.

    If you head 20km east from the Punta del Este/Miami-esq bullshit and Argy posers/cunts, you end up at a place called Jose Ignacio. Its really cool, but almost played out and expensive now. Head north from there, up toward Brasil…….and man, you’re talking about the South American gig we all dreamed about. I could go full on hippy and build a shack on the beach in that part of world. Get a chica, drink some wine/smoke a little dope with your vecinos and fish.

    The inner-country is full on Gaucho country. Pretty cool and very laid back. Big steaks and the local grape is called Tannat.

    An old landlord/friend takes her annual beach holiday to a place just east of Colonia, which is a short ferry ride from BA. We’re talking great beaches, cheap, humble Argy middle class turistas, no posers – and a 10 minutes cab ride from the ferry terminal. The ferry is an hour from downtown BA. She showed me pics -I still couldn’t believe it.

  2. Mike

    13. Aug, 2016

    I was there about two years ago, and in my opinion, the country’s not really worth a trip in and of itself, especially if you’re not going for the beaches. My circumstances were a bit unusual: I have a good Uruguayan friend whom I met teaching English back in the States, and he invited me to stop by on a side trip from Buenos Aires. I was in the country about three days total, and felt like I saw most of what there was to see–which is not much. Colonia del Sacramento is charming, a nice day trip from BA, and Montevideo has a few historical sites, but in all frankness, for me the best thing about the trip was seeing my friend, not the country itself. The chicks are OK, not as cute as Argentines, but not bad. I didn’t go to Punta del Este, since I was there during winter.

  3. Dan

    19. Aug, 2016

    My wife and I lived in Uruguay for three years, the first year in Pocitos (Montevideo) and the balance near Punta del Este and Piriapolis. Since I have been accused of being unnecessarily negative when talking about life in the land that time forgot, I will focus only on the high low points.

    The weather at times can be relatively pleasant. Unfortunately it usually is cold, wet and windy. The cold lasts throughout the 3 winter months plus at least a month on either side. That isn’t so bad as there is no snow to shovel or ice to scrape. And it might even be livable if the damned buildings had heat, which very few do. To counter the cold, the options are electric heaters and splits that can easily double an already expensive electric bill or propane gas heaters that fill up the room with extreme levels of humidity. If you like black mold, go for the second choice.

    If you enjoy ham and cheese, you may be in food heaven. Otherwise the food really sucks. I’m convinced there is only one restaurant menu for the entire country and the various establishments just add their name/logo. Basically there is almost no variety, the food is bland to the point of totally tasteless, the inexpensive wines (particularly the local Tanat) are terrible and the better wines are quite expensive.

    The taxes, as mentioned, are high. IVA is around 22% depending on the product or service. Electrical service from the government-owned utility is very expensive, Internet speeds, unless they have improved dramatically, are below 5Mbps, gasoline is above $7 per gallon, mobile phone service is also expensive and the drivers, particularly in Montevideo, are dangerous at best.

    Montevideo was and still could be an interesting city with some great old world architecture. But after years of total neglect, it is now just an old, dirty, noisy city that is hardly worth seeing. Punta del Este is like South Beach for 2-3 months and a ghost town the rest of the year.

    Of the 40+ expats we met during our time in Uruguay, only 4 or 5 are still there. After the hype about Uruguay from International Lying and other publications, many of us found it was simply not a good place to live. So we left. Go there if you wish but I think at best you will find Uruguay is just another stamp in your passport.

  4. josh

    20. Aug, 2016

    Most of the expats in UY are older retirees, comprised of gold bugs, conspiracy freaks, tin foil hat people and some hard-core religious types. The few younger people are there for legal marijuana and/or legal prostitution.

  5. Laura

    30. Aug, 2016

    Hi, I’m from Uruguay and I would agree with some of these comments up to a certain point. As a short term tourist, you won’t have to worry about black mold, cost of electricity, expats, marijuana, etc. If you compare Uruguay to the States, it’s not really that exciting: no theme parks, no awesome science museums, no Broadway shows. However, if what you want is a low key second honeymoon or a family vacation, and you are interested in seeing as much of the world as possible, I believe it’s a good place to visit. If you only visit places that have similar attractions to the ones you’ve already visited, then what’s the point?

    I’ve been living in the States for 15 years and my kids were born here, but they still love going to Uruguay. Of course, for us, the main attraction is visiting family and friends. People are friendly, open, and accepting of anybody and everybody. But you won’t have time to experience that since you’re only going on vacation. But you can still have a good time. Here are some tips:

    * Travel in the summer or when it’s warm enough to at least walk the beach (November to March)

    *Rent a car and drive up the coast (northeast): you can hit Punta del Este, Piriapolis, Rocha beaches, and Cabo Polonio, which is an awesome place with undisturbed sand dunes (you can Google some of these places). You can stay at a more popular place like Atlantida, Punta, Piriapolis, La Paloma or at any of the small fishing villages. First look at a map in Google to get the names of the many possibilities and then go to Vrbo, Homeaway, or any of those sites. We once rented a house across the street from the beach in Atlantida for a very affordable price (we wanted our kids to go to the beach but still be close to Montevideo to meet up with friends).

    *While you’re in Montevideo, there are several art museums you can visit, you can tour the Palacio Legislativo (Congress building) for free or at least you could in the past.

    * You can go also drive west instead of east and go to Colonia del Sacramento, which is a small, colonial town. I didn’t see much more than that in that area, but if you keep driving, you can get to the hot springs in Salto (Termas del Dayman)

    * There are also many working farms throughout the country that are open to tourists, which can be fun if you’re a city person or if you have young kids. Just Google “Estancias Turisticas” and see what you come across.

    Like I said before, you can’t compare it to Disneyland or the Grand Canyon, but if you enjoy visiting museums, easy going vacations, historical sites, then you can have a good time. It will definitely be less exciting than zip lining in the jungle in Costa Rica or visiting Machu Pichu. If you want something unique and memorable and being able to enthrall your friends with the stories of your adventures, Uruguay is not the right place to visit. I hope you find the perfect place for your vacation!

  6. Ward

    06. Oct, 2016

    I’ve never been to Uruguay but did I read that right you’re expecting a new baby!? Congratulations, life with 3 kids is a whole new adventure!

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