Tourist days come in all kinds of packages.

You are sleeping in strange rooms, surrounded by people you don’t know, eating food on the go that your stomach doesn’t recognize. There is television in a different language, obsessing with schedules, making connections, keeping up a big river ride on a little inner tube.

Your tourist day is as free as you want to make it, but limited. You don’t have friends here.You don’t work or have responsibilities. You are passing through. How involved you want to get depends on your mindset.

Standing at the hotel desk listening to three hotel employees talk about Uruguay is an education.They know enough English for me to understand what they are saying and I want to hear what they have to say.

Patricia is a hotel maid who lived in the U.S. but came back to Montevideo to be with family. Veronica is one step away from becoming a Doctor and is studying to re-take a final board oral exam that has to be passed before she can practice her passion. Virginia, another maid, speaks very little English but nods her head when she agrees with what another in the conversation has said.  As a tourist, you don’t always have a chance to know people in a country you visit. People in the tourist industry are unpaid and unappreciated Ambassadors for their country.

” It is hard, ” all agree.  ” My paycheck, ” Patricia says, “doesn’t even pay my rent. Without family here, it is really difficult. ”

Glowing reports about other countries often fall short. For people who hold Uruguay together by their daily work, economics is a daily rope climb in a daily obstacle course.

Even in Socialist countries, you still see people sleeping in the streets.

There is a security blanket here, but it has some holes.

To achieve what they want, people, around the world, still have to work hard, no matter what kind of government they have.

 

 

 

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