On this Sunday, we bused over to the Market, an endless line of vendors hawking everything imaginable, shoes, belts, clothing, electronics, birds, fish, jewelry, bootlegged movies and software, futbol stickers, mate gourds and bombillas, fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices and more. It was quite the scene, really, especially on Sunday, replete with shoppers sporting mate gourds and hot water thermoses, the local opium of the masses, well mate and soccer and for some marijuana too, which is legal.
After the market, we headed to El Cerro, the hill, for a spectacular view of the city and to see the monument to the murdered and disappeared Uruguayans during the dirty wars of the South American dictatorships of the 70’s. The monument is a simple glass installment with the names of the victims about 100 in all, many of them women, stenciled in white.
I don’t know much about the poverty statistics in Montevideo, but clearly there are many impoverished families living on or near the hill. Taking a bus to this remote part of the city was like crossing into another country. What I saw, reminded me very much of the houses and conditions in Guatemala, a much less developed country than Uruguay: poor sanitation conditions, trash overflowing, skinny and snarling, territorial dogs all about. Many of the roads leading to houses were not paved. My daughter keenly observed that there weren’t as many advertisement in the neighborhood as we had seen in the city proper, but there were more political campaign slogans and graffiti.